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Dedicated to Duane
Submitted by Sharon
Staring blindly out of the airplane window watching the last of the land fade away, panic gripped her throat, almost choking her on the sip of coffee she'd just taken. It was mind numbing fear that was beating against her brain.
What was she doing? Why was she on this plane? What did she expect to find after all of this time?
Taking a deep, slow breath, she began mentally chanting the mantra she'd created for herself, and had repeated so many times over the past two months. The one that had helped her make the reservation, buy the ticket and board this flight.
"It's going to be fine. It doesn't matter if I don't find love after all these years. I'm going to have a wonderful time. I'll be in Hawaii. It'll be beautiful, and wonderful, and warm. It's going to be good and I'll have memory photos of a place I've always wanted to visit. Going to Hawaii is good."
Relaxing her grip on the plastic cup, Lisa reflected on the events that had led her to this moment. It had started with a dare from a friend who was happily entertaining herself with online dating and thought everyone should do the same.
"What a character," Lisa mused to herself, "Nora is just one of a kind...so vivacious and full of life." When Nora's divorce ended one chapter of her life, she had wasted very little time on regrets. Instead, she started looking for the simplest way to meet interesting and attractive men. It hadn't taken Nora long to launch herself into the internet dating scene, and had a steady stream of men proving their worth to her through coffee dates for bookstore browsing.
She was having such a great time, Nora routinely tried to pass off her "Too Nice-Reject" date list to her friends. Lisa had resisted all her efforts for months, but one day while visiting Nora's house, she'd let her talk her into looking a online photos of a few men she thought Lisa might be interested meeting.
Lisa had been amused and amazed by the hokey pickup lines posted by other would-be Romeos. And both of them were convulsed with laughter by a whole array of 'recent photos' showing men much younger than the ages on their profiles, all wearing clothing on the cutting edge of become a retro fad.
Suddenly, Lisa's attention had been riveted to the name below one of the smiling faces. It couldn't really be him… could it? It had to be someone with the same name… didn't it? Almost holding her breath, Lisa clicked on his profile and started to read about the man with a name she remembered. Everything she read sounded like plausible outcomes of the life story of the man she had known so long ago, but was it him? She clicked back to his photo to see if she recognized any facial characteristics, then realized that he was one of the few men on the website who was using a current photo. She stared at his face for a long time, not really recognizing any familiar feature.
Disappointed, Lisa turned away, but Nora wouldn't let it go. "Hey, look, even if he doesn't look like the same guy you knew, why don't you at least make contact and just make sure. I'll even help you write an email to him to break the ice. Come on, it's not like you'll lose anything by writing. You'll only lose by not trying to reconnect with an old friend."
Lisa had written. He had responded. It had taken a while, but they eventually established that he was in fact, NOT the man she had hoped he would be. What she discovered was a new friendship that had rapidly blossomed into a long-distant romance with a total stranger. Emails led to phone calls and phone calls led to the inevitable decision of planning a face to face meeting. Once they decided they would meet, he wanted it to be in the most memorable setting he could find, and had asked Lisa where she thought the most romantic location was on earth.
"And the rest, as they say, is History". Lisa mused to herself on the plane heading for Hawaii. Except, not really, it wasn't history yet, they still hadn't met. Since Thanksgiving they had been talking on the telephone every day and she sometimes felt during their marathon calls that she knew him better than she knew herself. Now as Valentine's Day approached, here she was, on an airplane heading to Hawaii to meet this man… a man with a name she remembered but a face and life she did not.