"Oh," he smiled back, revealing an endearingly tilted front tooth. Friendly Man With The Hinged Tooth And The Eager Eyes was an uncle, although I do not know if for the first, second time or otherwise. I did not ask for clarity either, but his sister was preparing to give birth and wanted him present for the baby shower. Where there was mostly joy, I could sense his irritation at the additional five hours of flight time he had ahead of him, after the grumpy aunts and uncles made their ways to May Pen or Halfway Tree or Portmore or Pembroke Hall once set free from Norman Manley in the middle of the day. "It's nighttime me reach," he continued. The rest of his explanation—something about complications with her traveling to him in New York—drowned out somewhere between the whir of the plane engine outside and the see-sawing of his thick accent.
Eventually, though, one has to bend to warmth and good nature. The craning continued until I saw him reach down into his carryon from the corner of my eye and pull out a jumbo Ziploc bag—the kind mom uses to store her pre-seasoned chicken, fish and pork in the freezer—full of miniature sized candies. I saw his open hand extending towards me, with packets of Skittles and Swedish Fish resting in the middle. He smiled, and as I took them, so did I.
I'm still learning to receive love in all its many forms, especially when I can't readily recognize it. It took sweets handing underneath my nose to melt the tough exterior I've built up around myself. Not because of protection or anything (I'm nobody's brokenhearted girl), but for focus. I'm too focused, so tuned in on avoiding commotion and planning "what's next" that I sometimes miss the innocent splendors of now. Like the kind person looking to exchange positive energy that will ultimately enrich me, not distract me. I've been living the most unproductive, distraction-free life. All of my life's edges and and folds are neatly tucked, not to be moved. Why? As a Piscean, I am extremely adaptable to others, but not to my own stubborn ways and my ideas of what I should be doing (or should have been doing) to ensure success finds me, but what have I done to ensure that happiness finds me just as easily?
I swear, I've got to be passing by happiness like I do hagglers on the street, blocked out by self-imposed blinders. I'd now like to argue that the case for pursuing your dreams like a horse with blinders is a phony premise. Who knows how many interesting detours I've missed in my 28 years that probably have fields of fresh air and flowers that don't make me sneeze, and idyllic views from altitudes bound to prompt moments of clarity? All I've kept focused on is the succession of cobblestones beneath my feet, stretching for unseen miles in front of me. I don't really know if they turn, dip, stretch into stagnation, who knows. All I know is that "this is my path."
I think I'd like to get lost on a different one. It'll probably be more challenging, but it's got to be more fun and, eventually, more rewarding, right? And these are not paths I wish to sprint on. I'd fancy a nice stroll. You know, take the scenic route. Make some pit stops. Have some snacks. Meet some people along the way, much like my friend here two seats over—still craning his head quietly as I scribble in this notepad—has done.