15 Years Ago ...
Fifteen years ago this week, my life's journey reached a crossroads. Little did I know (in early 1993) that a trip with our lab's ski club would leave such an indelible mark on my future.
The irony is that I wasn't supposed to be on this particular trip (a week-long ski trip to Jackson Hole, WY). Being young, single and poor (albeit with a decent job), I had decided that the sum total of my skiing that season would be on the club's day-trip to Bear Mountain. But on the return drive from Bear back to San Diego, Gary Curtis (the ski club president) announced that "Someone has canceled their Jackson Hole reservation, Shane, so we have one ticket to sell, Shane. So if any of you are going to buy this, Shane, you'll get a good discount." (I'm a sucker for the strong sell....)
So the first Saturday in March, 1993, shortly after 6am Pacific Time, I boarded Continental Airlines Flight 196 (San Diego to Denver). My window seat was next to our lab's head of purchasing (and her VERY pointy elbows) in the center seat. I noticed a stunningly attractive brunette board and sit in the row in front of us, and quickly classified her in the "unattainable" category.
As the cabin door was closed, the flight was packed -- except for the row in front of me. "Unattainable" had two empty seats next to her. After a bit of impromptu matchmaking on the part of our purchasing chief (who insisted all she wanted was more elbow room), I was now sitting on the aisle one row forward -- and learned that Unattainable was going to Minnesota for her grandmother's funeral. (Grandma Leona is shown in the photo above.)
We parted ways in Denver, she continuing to her hometown and me to Jackson Hole for an excellent week of skiing the largest vertical drop in North America (>4,000' from the lodge to the top of the Gondola). And a week later, after connecting in Denver for the return flight to San Diego, I found myself in another nearly-full flight -- this time next to a young mother and her wailing infant.
The fact that Unattainable boarded shortly after me, and sat one row in front of me, with two empty seats next to her, has challenged my feeble brain's concept of probability and predestination. I consider this singular event one of the most profound in my life -- even moreso that, as it happened, we both looked at each other like we expected to see each other.
A few days later I made her dinner (and secretly slipped chocolate mint cookies into the oven). A few months later we moved in together. A year after this "chance" encounter I proposed to her, and a year after that proposal we were married.
All because of a plane ride fifteen years ago this week.