Dedicated to Dano
Submitted by Jane
I was 19 years old and boarding a plane that would change my life forever. I was meeting 25 other American students in L.A. for a study abroad program in the South Pacific – Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand. Hoping to broaden my horizons and experience new cultures, romance was the farthest thing from my mind. I stepped on the plane and shyly found my way to my seat. It was my first time abroad or travelling anywhere by myself. I looked up and saw the person sitting behind me. Odd, I thought. Long, curly hairframed a face of the sort I had never seen before. To top it off, he was wearing socks with his sandals, for me a fashion faux-pas. I sat in my chair, purchased a set of headphones for the movie, put them on and suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder from behind. “You’ve got them on wrong.” Indeed I had put the headphones on upside-down. I now had a cord jutting out from the top of my head. I didn’t realize they were supposed to be worn like a stethoscope. A normal adult would have laughed hard and then forgotten it, but for me, on my first courageous trip out of the country, it was a nightmare. For 20 minutes I wanted to crawl under the seat, never to show my face again, but I pulled myself together because I’d never see him again anyway. I focused on L.A. and the other students that I would soon meet. I found my group in the airport, met the professor and proceeded to introduce myself to the other students. Then the unthinkable. Again the curly hair and sandaled socks. Not only was he in our group, but he knew I wasn’t the well-traveled young lady I was trying to portray. My cover was blown. It didn’t end there. I had to try to maintain my dignity for the next 12 hours. Seating arrangements had been made alphabetically by last name – mine Koch, his Kramer. I couldn’t get away from this guy! It was during a quick layover in Hawaii that I decided I wasn’t going to let it bother me. We landed in Fiji and had to choose where we would spend the first week of our studies. I saw Kramer written under “mountain village”. I wrote Koch under “ocean village”. I saw him a week later but this time with a twinge of excitement. He was still strange, but he carried an air of the unknown and mysterious. It was two months later in New Zealand when we let those three magic words fly. The strange and unknown had become the treasured and warmly familiar. We were both from Minnesota, but we had to fly across the ocean to fall into each other’s arms. On our way back home, we stopped once again in Hawaii, but this time with a promise in our hearts to one day return as husband and wife.