Sweet Caroline

Have you ever had sex on a plane? I have not.

Have you ever thought about having sex on a plane? I had not.

I had not until I met Caroline, and did with her a couple of things I also hadn’t done before. Saying Caroline changed my perception of flying would do little to no justice. But she did.

When you take a thirteen hour long flight there’s usually one thing you desire the most: landing. But thanks to Caroline there was nothing ordinary about this flight, and the moment of landing would be by far the worst.

I boarded the plane as usual, doing what I could to minimize the suffering, and preparing myself for another sleepless flight through the night. I was behind on work, as usual, and took out my computer to check some emails. So there I was, headphones on, shoes off, hands on the keyboard and head against the window (always choose window). And there she arrived, about to sit next to me. I couldn’t help but notice that she was beautiful, and forced my eyes back to the computer screen. I kept working, observing out of the corner of my eyes how she accommodated her stuff and herself.

Hair and eyes were light brown, short in height, sweet in smiles. My eyes lingered, however, on her unique figure, athletically built and slightly bulky, with wide shoulders, defined (but not muscular) arms, and strong thick thighs. Later I’d discover that Caroline was a Waterpolo captain, which explained it very well.

At some point, lucky me, a flight assistant signed at me to stow my computer and close the mini table. I took my headphones off and looked to my right to see her smile awaiting. Awkward hi. Awkward hi. We started talking, about our destinations, and then quickly about the book she had in her hands (One Hundred Years of Solitude, she said she was liking it, but that something about it seemed “too forcefully happy”), and then quickly about life, and then quickly about love.

Before I knew it, we were thirty five thousand feet above the ground, and my heart was soaring way higher.

You know, she said, the incredibly fast pace of the book is actually kind of nice, because you see the lives of these people passing so fast, and moving on from one generation to another, that you don’t have the time to argue against the plot or to criticize the choices the characters take, and it ends up forcing you to take a back seat and observe what happens. And when she finished talking, something felt so right I just wanted to kiss her. Like two engines from different rusty machines, we somehow sat together and fit, producing the loud weird sound of a click.

And how weird! We had met an hour ago, and we had pretty much no idea who the other person was. I felt like we could kiss. I tried to convince myself that my main motivation was her personality, rather than her physical attractiveness, but I don’t really know if it was already true by then. Physical proximity, forced by the circumstances, was playing in my favor, maybe in her favor too, why not. I made a conscious effort to not remove my eyes from hers, and I felt a crescendo of sweet awkwardness and tension building up. The scene was simple; two magnets prevented from touching each other by a kid (which symbolizes embarrassment), that are tempted by getting closer and closer, until his little hands can’t stand the strength any more. Certain tensions cannot be broken if it’s not by the desire of escaping from them.

Everything felt unreal. Our lips awkwardly touched, and we repelled for a fraction of a second. I didn’t have time to think, only to witness her face moving towards mine with purpose. She went in for a longer kiss, and did so strongly our teeth collided producing an uncomfortable white sound. Sorry, she muttered while keeping her lips against mine. You’re fine, I said, as a sudden happiness flooded my body; somehow this stranger was feeling about me in a similar way I was feeling about her.

We made out for a few minutes, holding each other’s hands. Awkwardly at the beginning, firmly by the end. I almost couldn’t notice the discomfort in my neck, and only sporadically thought about what kind of spectacle we were giving.

As she would later reveal to me, she was getting very turned on. Her brain was a juicer machine, swirling at sixty revolutions per second. Has he ever done this before? (she would actually ask that question later), what the fuck am I getting into? fuck it’s really great when his teeth try to tear my upper lip. Can we do some more? What can I do if I want to stop this? I mean there’s no escape.

The next couple of hours went by in interleaved periods of kissing and talking about the widest variety of subjects, including of course sex, music, movies and drugs.

Speaking of drugs, she said, can you close your eyes for a second? What are you gonna do? Just close them, trust me! Okay. You can open them now.

I could see in her cute small hand a tiny little plastic bag, with suspicious colorful tablets. I looked in her eyes with worry, and whispered What the fuck, how do you have this here. Don’t worry, it’s really easy, I do it all the time, they don’t have any way to find out about such small doses.

The mood withered for a second; I must confess I got scared, but I tried to play it cool and just mentioned I had never tried it. She shrugged, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. I guess I wanted to. She told me to close my eyes, and I felt her warm fingers move my tongue, and put the tablet under it. Her gentle sweet voice approached my ears and said now just relax, it will kick in about 10 minutes. An ex-boyfriend, film-student, had taught her about LSD. Caroline always had mixed feelings about him, sex on the balcony while tripping was amazing, but something about him felt like settling, and she really really didn’t want to settle.

She also took a tab and put it under her red tongue. We held hands, crossing our fingers, and put on 50 First Dates on the front seat TVs. It was a really silly movie, but I loved watching it there, with her, and she said she loved it too.

Every ten seconds a part of my brain wondered whether I was already feeling different. Maybe I’m not chill enough for drugs, but the controlling part of me always gets a bit of anxiety, and this time wasn’t the exception. Caroline, on the other hand, seemed to be having the best time. That made me feel a bit jealous, so I closed my eyes and made my best effort to start enjoying myself.

My eyeballs started to feel the weight of their eyelids, and my skin became aware of the friction against clothes and the seatbelt. Noise couldn’t have been louder, and yet my brain was blocking it all. My whole body felt like it was moving and yet I was completely still. This thing is really kicking in. The seat in front of me looked as if it was extremely close, almost touching me, and approaching, somehow, without any sign of movement. The net on it looked like it had been woven by giant black spiders, but it was not scary, just curious. I was clumsily rediscovering the world around me. And there I found them, in her eyes.

Looking at Caroline’s eyes was really amazing. Planes tend to give me claustrophobia but her eyes were like a escape window. They were definitely bigger in the inside than they looked from the outside. I walked into her gaze and saw a lot of different colorful birds, somehow I had a cigarette in my hand, and could do perfect circles of smoke that drifted up without losing their shape. The only problem is that she wasn’t in there, so I had to get out. I felt trapped for a second, but then started to hear the sound of the engine getting louder and louder, and suddenly I was in my seat again. We were staring at each other, and my eyes and tongue felt so dry I thought they were about to crumble and I’d have to pick them up. Caroline could tell and offered me water. That felt pretty nice.

All my senses were on the edge, and besides some moments of anxiety and fear, I was having a great time. I felt more lucid then that I had ever been, and even considered writing some thoughts down so I wouldn’t forget them.

We were both absorbed for a while, I don’t know for how long, but then we started talking again, and she dropped a bomb on me. Can I tell you something? Of course, I said. You’re not gonna judge me are you? Of course not, I lied, because I wanted to know. And then she leaned in and went really close to my ear. So close I could feel her lips against the tiniest hairs of my earlobe, and the heat coming from her breath. I feel like we are a single person, she said.

I felt myself freeze. Never had a sentence sounded so right and so wrong at the same time. A million thoughts I couldn’t name were revolving around me, and everything was so fast, and I needed an answer. So I said maybe I felt so too. But I didn’t really know, and, wasn’t my insecurity a proof that we weren’t actually just one?

She held my hand really tight and everything was smooth again, and I could even feel the breeze coming from the tiny ceiling fans. Was she insecure as well? Had she anticipated that, and was this her way of saying, it’s okay, there’s also a ton of things I don’t understand, and I don’t know where we’re going, but that’s why we’re one single soul.

And it wasn’t until I poured my eyes into her eyes that I realized that in the noisy crowd we were alone and somehow, by some miracle of chance, the convoluted paths of our lives, for a single instant, crossed and were one, single, lonely point.

Happy hours passed and the flight was almost over.

We promised we wouldn’t give any form of contact to the other person, no last names, no social media, nothing. This was it. A brief moment of love, wet kisses, shitty wine and 90 micrograms of acid. No orgasms, no sleep, no disagreements. Fasten your seatbelts. Oh sweet lord I’d kill that voice. I didn’t dare to look at her, and went for the window instead. We were piercing the rosy clouds and the sun was rising like if that day was no different. That mother fucking sun. When I saw the first building I knew my life was over, and I squeeze her hand like I had never done before. Fortunately didn’t break any bones. When I finally looked to my right; an image I don’t want to remember anymore. Tears were running down her cheeks, and the single point our paths had become would now start to diverge and would never come back.

Fuck, I’m so embarrassed right now, she said, and I asked even though I believed to have the answer already. She said she wasn’t expecting something like this at all, and now she had to go meet a friend and her mind was somewhere else, and she wanted to go for bottomless mimosas in that beach bar she had visited last summer, and maybe then go home and watch the shittiest romantic comedy and laugh together at the cheesy parts, and get angry about how misogynistic they are, and end up giving me head and having sex against a wall, and passing out in bed, only to wake up again to fuck once again.

None of which we would do.

I hate feeling like this, she would say, fuck I want to be stronger. I am actually really strong, I don’t know what’s wrong with me right now. I don’t love you or anything it’s just that… She couldn’t finish the sentence, and neither could I.

Looking backwards I deeply feel like at that moment of pure sadness we were, once again, just one.

We kissed and her lips now felt awkwardly cold, and tears passed from her cheek to my cheek and I hated that she was crying, because I couldn’t cry at all and yet my throat was as tense as a guitar string about to break.

She grabbed her luggage from the overhead compartment (for fucks sake, I punched my seat) and told me she was meeting her sister to take a connection flight together. She pulled out tissues, wiped her tears, and told me about her next days, how excited she was about that hike (showed me a picture, it was indeed amazing) and how she really missed her sister, who had been living abroad for a couple of years. I wasn’t saying anything at all, and suddenly she said bye and kissed me for a second and then started walking away, doubt, and maybe a hint of regret, tracing on every step.

I was petrified. When she was already twenty meters away through the hallway I thought about saying I love you, maybe just yelling Caroline I love you, but I didn’t do anything.

Now, every once in a while I see the back of a short woman with wide shoulders and light brown hair and something in my chest expands like a spring. It’s never her, of course, and I always end up going back to that song I made fun of her for.

Sweet Caroline,

Good times never seemed so good. So good. So good. So good.

I’ve been inclined (boom, boom, boom)

To believe they never would

To believe they never will.