Tuesday, July 27, 2004 -- 1:03 A.M.

It was just another miserable Monday morning. I rolled out of bed at 5 a.m., barely logging 3 hours of shut-eye. My head throbbed with annoying consistency for the first hour of awakening, no doubt enhanced by having to cancel the taxi service because its driver overslept. Mom drove me to Burbank Airport, instead.

The realization that this will be the last time I'm taking the Monday morning Alaska flight did not dawn on me until I approached the ticketing counter and noticed the new girl was working there. This will be the last time for a while that I fly Alaska, as my gig in Seattle is up.

Her long dark hair, not done in the usual braid today, flowed around her neck. Her skin is well-tanned, evidenced by her legs--never more have I appreciated the short skirt Alaska uniform. Except her taller height, which I judge to be around the 5'7" range, she looks remarkably like the crush I had in college--fairly high cheek bones, dark eyes that remind me of ponds under a midnight moon, a constantly ready wide smile, and an idle expression of contentment.

Every time at the ticketing counter, I try to land the slot in front of her. Every time, I've failed. Today, I moved in as close as I could, sliding into the self check-in machine immediately adjacent to her. As I began tapping on the machine, the man who had the prime position in front of her finished and left, and I cursed my luck--she was available to help, but I had already committed. Having done the check-in drill a thousand times, I flew through it, and the machine spit out my ticket a minute later. I amusingly noted the middle-aged man who was my care rep was so enthralled by his pretty young co-worker that he had temporarily forgotten about the bag I wanted to check, listening to her chat away about her sister's party this past weekend, his immediate universe dominated by the siren to his right.

...

"Gooood morning, and welcome to Alaska flight four-zero-one with service to Seeeatle!" she announced brightly, as a herd of passengers began to file towards her, handing out their boarding passes.

"Good morning," she said to the man in front of me as she scanned his pass, "You can board from the rear of the plane, it's closer to your seat."

I step forward, noting that my seat is 27A, pretty much the next-to-last row on this MD-80 plane. I am secretly pleased that this will be the first time she says more than two words to me as I am scanned in.

I try to say hi. I'm not sure I succeeded, because I realized my throat was as dry as dust. She put my boarding pass under the scanner, and as she handed it back to me, looked straight at me for about half a second, piercing my universe. Nothing was said as I moved on to the plane. My disappointment was paramount--I sat at 27A! I needed to know I could board from the back!

But... the look. It was a direct look, not a fleeting glance you usually give strangers. It also seemed like a familiar look, like a "hey, I've seen you before." Maybe she remembers me, knowing I've flown the Monday morning flight for the past 5 months. Maybe that's why she didn't relay redundant information to me.

Then again, equally likely is that she gives that look to everyone, that I could've imagined its directness. Equally likely that she knows I must have heard what she told the man in front of me and deduced it also applied to me. Equally likely... or even more so than "equally".

All I know is that my Monday mornings will be a lot less pretty from here on forth.


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