Just BE YOU

“The seatbelt sign has been turned on. Please return to your seats, put your chairs in the upright position…” the airplane recording broke into his delirium. 

Looking up at the flight attendant he realized that they were preparing to land in San Francisco. It was a quick flight from Seattle to San Fran, it had gone extra fast since he was completely self absorbed in his own spiraling confusion. Quickly he looked around to make sure no one was looking at him, he stealthily slid the magazine into his briefcase and prepared himself to deplane.

Staring our his window, Ken watched the ground get closer and closer. With a little jerk the planes wheels made contact with the tarmac. Resting his head on the seat in front of him, he consciously worked to relax, taking in slow deep breaths, convincing himself that all was okay, he just needed time to think and be. He was thankful that he had a couple of hours in San Fran before he caught the flight to Hong Kong. Picking up his phone, he turned the airplane mode off and waited for any messages to come in. Ding, ding, ding…three of them quickly chimed into his world. Glancing at the face of his phone he saw that one was Rita from the office, one from John in Hong Kong and the last one was from Jesse. The first two he knew would be simple easy things to answer and take care of. John was just probably messaging to wish him a good flight and to confirm the meeting tomorrow afternoon, Hong Kong time. Rita likely had a simple question she needed a response to, for she was not one to bug him, he really appreciated her self sufficiency and work ethic. When he left Seattle he knew that the office was in good hands. Sharon, the company project manager was a whole other story. Ken did not trust her at all. He never would have hired her, but he didn’t get a choice, she was John’s niece, the figurehead of the YouXin. He was sure that when she was on “business travel” she was partying and spending company money to entertain and play. He worried about the image she presented to potential clients. She was just too young, inexperienced and frankly a spoiled brat. 

Ken quickly scanned the closest departure screen to make sure that his flight for Hong Kong was on time. Confirming that all was status quo, he headed for the closest Starbucks to get a breakfast sandwich and a latte. He had left the house in a rush, running late as usual, although this morning it was not just his fault, Jesse was quick to start the day with more intense conversation carried over from the night before. This is why he did not want to listen to her message, he knew it would be more about the argument they had been having over and over and over again. She wanted to start trying to have children, he did not. He could totally understand where she was coming from, for she was already thirty-five, two years older than he was and as she said, “her physical time clock was ticking.” He got it. However,  it did not change the fact that he immediately felt suffocated and caged when he thought about having a baby. Even now as he walked towards the coffee shop, he shuddered internally and externally at the thought. He knew from experience how demanding and life changing a child was. While he had not been a parent yet, he had played that role for his siblings, literally being the man of the house when his dad ran away.

Ken, felt his mind drift off to his dad. He had fond memories of his dad, he was loving, affectionate, and they had done a lot together.  As swiftly as the warm thoughts came in they left as the hurt rose to wash them away. “How could his dad leave and not look back? Not fight to have time with his kids? He totally understood why he left, being married to his mom had to be a living hell. She was such an angry, unhappy, bitter, vindictive woman, how did his dad ever fall in love with her to begin with? He had a feeling that if his mom had not accidentally gotten pregnant with him, there never would have been a marriage,” his pondering thoughts trailed off as he stood before the barista to place his order.

“Hi, what can we get for you today,” he politely asked Ken.

“I’d like a soy milk hazelnut latte,  grande size. Also a sausage, cheddar and egg sandwich, please,” replied Ken.

“I have a grande, soy, hazelnut latte with an egg, cheddar, sausage breakfast sandwich, is that all for you today,” recited back the young male barista.

“Yes, that will be it, thank you,” replied Ken.

Moving to the side he waited for his order. Putting the phone up to his ear, he listened first to John’s message which was totally what he expected. No response necessary, since all was on time and in flow with the schedule. Next he listened to Rita’s message, she had called to confirm his dates for his trip to South Africa next month. He was very excited about this trip, Africa, specifically South Africa had always intrigued him. He had fallen in love with South African wines three years ago when he was on a business trip to Amsterdam. At a dinner out with clients they ordered a South African Cabernet Sauvignon, not his favorite varietal, but when you are entertaining clients it’s about what they want. He had been completely surprised by the incredible mouth feel, soft structure, and lingering spice.  Unlike most Cabernets, it did not over power the meal, it actually  complimented it. Later in his hotel room, he researched that winery and the South Africa wine region. He became so engrossed that he did not get to bed until two in the morning. 

He quickly called Rita confirming the dates and asking how everything was. He inquired if she had heard from Sharon who was supposed to be back in the office on Wednesday. “No,” she had not yet heard from Sharon. Unbeknownst to each other, they both rolled their eyes in unison, for they were thinking the same thing with regard to Sharon, she was sleeping off another night on the town. This time in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she was supposedly meeting with new potential suppliers of organic produce. 

“Breakfast sandwich and latte for Ken,” broke into his conversation with Rita.

Walking up he shook his head with a silent “Thank you,” picked up his items and searched for an open table. 

Ending his conversation with Rita he sat down to organize himself for the next half hour, then he would need to get off to his next flight. The international flights took longer to board and get settled. However, once in the air it was wonderful. Business class on international flights were especially spacious and he could tuck away in his own little world for the next fifteen hours without the outside world impinging on his thoughts. 

He felt the magazine calling him from its hidden place in his briefcase. “Not yet,” he thought loudly, I have to listen to Jesse’s message whether I want to or not.”

“Hi hun, I am sorry that our discussion made you late this morning, also feel bad that we parted ways in such a distant state. I know that this is a huge decision for us both, one that could be very exciting and wonderful. I hope the week in Hong Kong gives you some time to feel into it and explore more deeply your concerns and fears,” played Jesse’s compassionate voice message. 

Quickly he softened. He knew she was trying to understand his hesitation. When they were first dating it had been easy to say he wanted to have children. He wasn’t sure what had changed, he just did not feel ready yet. 

Hitting the phone icon he called her back.

“Hi hun,” she answered.

“Hi babe,” he replied. “Thank you for the understanding message, it means a lot.”

“Of course, I felt really bad that you had to leave under such tumultuous conditions,” she shared in a tender tone.

“I know how important having children is to you Jesse, and I truly understand that you feel your age pushes the conversation, especially if we want more than one child. I’m sorting through my feelings, trying to understand more deeply why I am struggling,” he shared.

“I love you so much, I just need some time to become clear in myself,” he continued.

“I know, I’m sorry I keep pushing. I can’t explain it, but sometimes if feels like its not me, as though I’m possessed by a want to be mom or something. I love you to hun,” she replied.

“We’ll talk more when I get back and I’ll message you once I am settled into my hotel room. Thank you for leaving me the message, I feel much better now about leaving for the business trip. Good luck with your new potential client tomorrow. I have no doubt you will knock their socks off with your ideas and presentation,” he smiled as he began to end the call.

“Have a safe trip hun, I love you,” she stated as she ended her conversation.

“Love you, talk to you soon babe,” he hung up the call.

To be continued… 16

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