I had two hours in the Miami Airport. I was craving good 'ole American food. Lucky for me, the first restaurant I came to served burgers, and only burgers. And sweet potato fries on the side. It was no e-town, but it would do.
I bellied up to the bar, ordered my burger and read the subtitles on the two tv screens staring at me. News of school violence and the missing Malaysian flight were featured on one TV. A reality show featuring a dance class called the "Dancing Dolls" made me want to not return to "reality." The Dancing Dolls had just bowed their heads to pray for their upcoming booty shaking performance when the guy sitting next to me snickered. I couldn't blame him. In fact, I joined him. And this is how I met Jonathan.
Jonathan asked where I was coming from. When I told him Peru, he lit up and asked if I knew who Thor Heyerdahl was. I asked "Thor Heyerdahl"? He said "Never mind." I told him I had been in Cusco. He asked if I was in a balsa wood forest. I hadn't heard anyone mention anything about balsa wood. He went on to explain that it was an ocean-worthy material and that a guy set sail in a raft made from balsa wood from Peru to French Polynesia. This was beginning to sound familiar. I said, "The Kon-Tiki"? He said, "Yes! Thor Heyerdahl was the guy who made the balsa wood raft called the Kon-Tiki and sailed it across the Pacific. He was my grandfather's uncle!"
Jonathan was flying from St. Croix (the island) to New York. He moved to St. Croix four years ago. He and his wife Amy had split time there for the last ten years, once Amy got Jonathan hooked on diving. Jonathan is now a diving instructor. Amy passed away from cancer last year. He asked if I wanted to see a picture of her. How could I say "no"?
He scrolled through 8 photos in an album on his iPhone titled "Amy". He beamed as he showed me a picture of Amy at age 47 in a bikini and dreads half way down her back. In the next picture, Amy had no hair. And then he showed me pictures of Amy with no hair but ink on her newly bald head. She had decided to go with a Cleopatra crown design. The subsequent pictures showed a steadily shrinking Amy. When he got to the last picture, he let out a sigh and said "I was a lucky man to spend ten years with her."
My eyes welled up with tears. So did his. I wiped mine away. He let his fall. We blankly stared at the latest drama ensuing with the Dancing Dolls.
"How did you meet her?"
"I was interviewing for a job where she worked. When I met the boss, he said, 'Wait till Amy meets you. You are just her type.' He paraded me by her and as I walked away, she texted the boss to ask who I was. I got the job and I moved in with her a month later."
You may have a picture of Jonathan in your head. When he sat down next to me, I had the thought, "This could be an interesting conversation." When Jonathan got up to leave, the bartender mentioned something about me probably being relieved that that guy was gone. Actually, no. I wasn't relieved. I was thankful. Thankful that a guy like Jonathan walked into my life, shared his story, and left me pondering how amazing humanity can be... from wild Dancing Dolls to widowed dive instructors.