Life Interrupted (Prelude) rough Draft

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Many love stories start out through a chance meeting between two people that are the exact opposite and the situation throws them together.  At first the hate each other, but as time goes by they are drawn to each other.  They realize that they complete each other.  The couple eventually fall madly in love and live happily ever after against all odds.

Either that or there are two people who knew each other for a long time before realizing they are perfect for each other.  The guy runs to the airport to stop the girl from boarding the plane to go to art school in Paris.  When he gets there the plane is gone, but when he starts to sulk away the girl shows up and they run into each other’s arms.  At least that is what the movies tell us, and hey who am I to question the gospel of the “Rom Com”.

Although our story does involve love at first sight, it isn’t what you would call a common story much less a “rom com”.  It wouldn’t fall into the Hollywood trap of the standard love story.  You see, those stories are made up.  This story is anything but made up.  This is the story of my wife and I (Whoops I ruined the ending, but it is about the journey).  This is the story of finding the love of my life.  Hell, I was always told to write what I know, and this is what I know.

You see I was a 30 something IT engineer living in an apartment the Washington, DC suburbs working for a major telecom company.  My job caused me to travel back and forth to New York, but I did have an understanding girlfriend which helped out when I was gone every two out of three weeks, or maybe she just liked a free place to stay in The Big Apple.  Yeah it was probably the latter.

When I was away I could always call her and talk to her to help me feel less lonely.  It made me feel a little better when I was sitting in a hotel room by myself staring off into space being bored.  People always ask me how I could get bored in New York.  What they don’t realize is that after weeks of being anywhere in a hotel room you will get bored.  It wasn’t like I was on vacation.  I had to get up and go to work every day, or I was running to catch a plane.

Even though I did enjoy traveling I did always get a little home sick every now and then.  I missed my family and I missed my friends.  It was hard especially when you missed family parties.  I thought this trip would be a little different.  I was right, but not in the way I thought it was going to be.

I was going to fly up and work the week in New York.   My girlfriend was going to fly up at the end of the week and spend the weekend with me.  I had the whole weekend planned out.  I wasn’t going to have to spend the weekend alone.  I was really looking forward to it, but I guess fate had other plans.

I flew up into John F. Kennedy Airport on a warm September Monday morning.  It was about 7:30 in the morning when the plane landed.  I went to the baggage claim and pick my bags before meeting my driver that was going to take me into the city to my office building in down town Manhattan near where the World Trade Center used to be.  My office looked over ground zero and I would watch them build the Freedom Tower out my window.

The driver was holding a cardboard sign with my last name on it.   Most of the other drivers had their passenger’s names on a tablet, but not this guy.  He was a tall skinny Jamaican man in his early 30s with long dread locks wearing a black suit. He was looking around like he was in a rush.  I figured he must have had another pick after me.

I went up to him.  I smiled and said, “Hi.  Are you are looking for me?”

He looked at me and said, “Well, is this your name, and are you expecting to be picked up by a town car?”  It sort of made me feel stupid, but it was my own damn fault.

“Yeah that is me,” I said sheepishly.

He gave me a little smile and said, “Well then come with me.  Your chariot awaits, man. My name is Leon, and I am your man in New York.”  He turned around and started walking towards the airport exit.

This guy was like a guy out of a movie.  He wasn’t like the usual drivers that would pick me up from the airport.  Most drivers would carry your bags, but I knew there was not a chance of this guy carrying my bags.  He had long dreads, a goatee, and a thick Jamaican accent.  He was closer to Bob Marley than he was the everyday drivers I was used to being picked up by.  He even walked with a little hop in his step.

As we approached his illegally parked car outside the airport terminal an airport cop that was visibly pissed off looked at him and yelled, “I told you last week that you can’t park there.  I am going to have your car towed if you pull that shit again.”

“Yeah man, I hear you.   It will be the last time this morning,” Leon said to the cop in a way that you knew it wouldn’t be the last time that he parked illegally in front of the airport terminal.   He then hit a button on his keychain and the trunk on the town car popped open.

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I threw my bag in the trunk and asked him if he parked illegally very often at the airport, and he looked at me and said, “All the time man.  All the time.  The tow truck takes five minutes to come.  If you time it right they hardly ever get there fast enough to tow you.”

“So they do tow you sometime?  Doesn’t your boss get pissed off?” I asked genuinely puzzled on how this guy still had his job since it seemed that he was telling me that his cars sometimes got towed.  I mean that must piss off his passengers.

Leon imparted his wisdom on me, “Yeah he gets a little mad every now and then, but you can’t let the little things bug you.  No matter what you do someone is going to get pissed off at you.  The trick is not being the person that is pissed off.   That is me, man.  The person that is not pissed off.”

Leon jumped in the front seat and I hopped in the back seat.  He started the car and we started to pull out of the airport terminal.  I noticed my phone was still off so I turned the phone on.  As it was powering up he looked at me and said, “Is this your first time in New York?”

“Nah man, this is my usual Monday morning commute,” I told Leon.  Two weeks in New York.  One week in DC.  It was one hell of a commute and made for a very long Monday morning.  This Monday day was about to become an incredibly long Monday.

Ding.  Ding. Ding.  My phone was now completely powered on and I was getting text messages that were sent to me while I was in the air.  I was curious who was texting me so early in the morning.  I looked down and saw it was from my girlfriend.  I smiled at the thought of her being as kind as to text me and let me know she was thinking about me.  She wasn’t the most caring girlfriend, but every now and then she would surprise me.

“So do you have a girl at home, or do you have a here?  Maybe in both places?” Leon asked me with a little smirk.

I giggled a little bit and look down to read my text messages.  “John, I can’t see you anymore,” the first text message read.  “I met someone else who I feel is better for me,” So she was basically saying she found someone better than me and was moving on.  “I am sorry.  Don’t call.”

Like that my three year relationship was over.  “Well, as of two seconds ago I am completely single,” I said putting my phone in my pocket.  I thought to myself and wondered if we broke up from the point that she sent the message, from the point I received the message, or from the point I read the message.  I guess it really didn’t matter.  All that mattered was that I was away from home and all by myself.

“Man, I am sorry,” Leon said making a frown.  “I had a girl back in Kingston, but I moved from Jamaica to Jamaica, Queens so I broke up with her.  I lost her and that was the worst thing that ever happened to me.  Not a day goes by that I don’t I think about her.  When you find that one person and you lose them it sticks with you forever.”

“Jesus man, you really know how to make a guy feel better,” I said to Leon.  I mean talk about kicking a guy when he is down.  Now I felt really bad.

“No man, I mean you haven’t met that girl yet,” Leon said. “You going to meet her, man.  She is a New Yorker.  I feel it in my bones.  I am good at this shit.  I have gift,” and New York has seven million people so the odds were pretty good that I could find a girl, but I didn’t feel that way at the time (spoiler alert: I didn’t find her).

“Yeah we will see, but I’m not going to hold my breath,” I responded to Leon.  I really didn’t feel like talking or debating about my love life to a random driver so I just gave a canned response.  I was hoping Leon would get the hint and just let me sulk in my own pity in peace but I wasn’t so lucky.

“That is the beauty of it,” Leon said while looking back at me smiling as we were going about 70 miles an hour down the freeway in heavy traffic. “You don’t have to believe it.  It’s fate.  It believes in you and you can’t run from it and you can’t hide from it.  It will find you.  You don’t believe me, but when you meet her remember what I said.”

“Leon man, you are one of a kind,” I said to him still not buying his deep belief in fate, but I am sure he believed it enough for the both of us.

“We all are, man.  We all are.”  That was the last thing Leon said to me.  He then turned up his reggae music and sung along for the rest of the ride until he dropped me off at my office building. Just like that my friend Leon was gone forever.  Gone but not forgotten.

I didn’t meet a girl on this New York trip or any of the next trips.  To tell you the truth I don’t know why I kept what Leon said in the back of my mind, but I did.  It would be months before it all made sense to me.  I was always told “good things come to those who wait.” This quote would come the guiding principle in my life.