The 9th of November, 2016

2016-11-09-21-11-03I’m seated in 40F on the 1.05pm from LAX to JFK, waiting for the plane to take off, when the guy in front of me in 39 looks back to me through the space between the seats and tells me that he really likes my shoes.
‘I really like your shoes,’ he says, ‘I noticed them when we were boarding,’
‘Oh, thanks,’ I say of my shoes, which are a pair of very worn burgundy leather Converse high-tops, ‘I bought them at a music festival in England, years ago, second hand,’
‘Wow,’ says the man, who is wearing a dark knitted beanie, a tee shirt with an Adidas logo on it, dark blue jeans and Converse of his own.
‘Yeh,’ I say, looking down at my shoes, ‘a 20 quid bargain!’
Then he asks me if I’m from Australia and I lean forward and hang my arms over the seat and tell him yes, originally.
Then I ask him where he’s from.
‘Los Angeles,’ he says, ‘Downtown,’
Then we talk for a little while about how sketchy Downtown is, and how the apartments in the building he lives in have been bought for students by their rich parents and how there are now keg parties every night.
‘I get in the elevator to go to work and kids are smoking weed in it,’ he says, ‘and, like, I’m no prude, man, but it’s like 7am!’
We both laugh, and then he asks me if I’m ‘going home’.
‘No,’ I say, ‘I live in California, now,’
‘Oh,’ he says, ‘so, um, no escaping, then,’
‘No,’ I say, and give a really feeble laugh.
And he too laughs weakly, and even though we are not looking at each other, we know why we are laughing these feeble laughs.
And then the man frowns.
Then he rubs his stubbly chin between his thumb and forefinger and says ’My mum called me crying this morning,’
‘Yeh, I say, ‘There were a lot of people crying. I cried a lot,
‘She’s a school teacher,’ he tells me, ’A life-long Democrat,’
Then there’s some quiet between us and we are both shaking our heads.
‘She just can’t understand how it happened,’ he says.
And then there’s a bit more quiet, until he looks up at me.
‘It feels like somethings gone wrong,’ he says, ‘like really, really, really very wrong.’

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