A few days after last Christmas, I was flying back to LA from my original place of origin, Chicago. I had just spent a week between my family’s home and my best friend’s apartment in the city, visiting for the holidays and partying with old friends. I absolutely love Virgin America, and this happened to be not only my first first class flight on Virgin, but also first time EVER in front of the main cabin. How fucking exciting, right!? I got the aisle seat in the first row for a deal I couldn’t refuse and went for it. I just wanted to pretend to be a little pretentious for a change.
I was physically exhausted from the visit and even more so emotionally. Leaving the place and people I love so much, and the city I called home my entire life (but will always REALLY be home) up until just under a year prior was tough. Not to mention the fact I was so emotionally distraught over some very recent boy troubles that I could feel it in my gut, heart, head, and throat. That awful, awful feeling that crawls inside of you and refuses to leave until you’ve processed it all. I thought it was time to move on and I tried to block out all the negative thoughts swarming through my brain.
I opened up my Macbook and figured this would be a good time to listen to some Elliott Smith or Elvis Costello and write about my feeeeeeliiiiinggggs. Before the flight had even taken off, the stewardess serving us fancy people up front had taken my drink order and I had already silently declared to myself that getting shit-faced on this flight was the only logical way to pass the time while also relaxing me enough to forget the pain, at least for a little while. Glass after glass of Tullamore Dew and water led me to the bathroom quickly, (I totally hate having to go on flights. It’s the worst… but I can’t hold my drunk pee for 4 hours. Hello, aisle seat!) where I peed while simultaneously playing back the events that were bothering me so in my head. I started crying and made a silent scream as I could feel the plane shaking under the influence of light turbulence and a lump in my throat the size of an apple. I looked down at the stupid little sink as I washed my hands and into the mirror, saw how red my eyes were, how tired and pathetic and depressed I looked, and groaned at myself for being such a mess. I wiped away the evidence of tears and smeared mascara, and returned to my seat.
When I sat down, I noticed a man sitting on the other side of the aisle, one row back, that looked strangely familiar. He was covered in dark winter wear, tall, older, with black glasses. Suddenly it hit me. JOHN CUSACK WAS ON MY FLIGHT. LLOYD DOBBLER. LANE MEYER. ROB GORDON. The man, the legend! I continued to drink, both nervous, excited, and still drowning in my misery. I was in total disbelief. Living in LA, celebrity spottings become more common and less shocking every time, but this one was special. Someone I truly admired and respected was just a few feet away from me for four entire hours. I thought about how I fooled around with my first serious boyfriend while Say Anything… played on a loop after my senior prom. I wanted to lose my virginity that night, but didn’t, because I was on my period. I thought about High Fidelity and how much it spoke to me about life, love, trust, and betrayal. I played lines over in my head like “Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss.” I knew I had to speak to him or at least try to get a photo without being a total loser or creep. In between sad rants in my text file, I typed the following:
“planes. i absolutely fucking love virgin america.
elvis costello. john cusack. is this even real life. whiskey.
ii am ca complete mess but fuck it. life is okay i’m going to be okay.
things could be a lot fucking worse.
john cusack is on my goddamn flight.”
I finally decided the most passive-aggressive yet potentially effective way to get his attention would be to tweet something about it…. and it worked. I posted a tweet that said something along the lines of “Oh my god, @JohnCusack is on my flight. I should tell him how I almost lost my virginity to Say Anything…”. Shortly after, he went to the bathroom, and caught my eye as he returned to his seat, giving me a friendly smirk. The next time he used the restroom, he stopped and stood directly next to my seat.
“How exactly do you ALMOST lose your virginity to Say Anything?”
“Hi….. it was after senior prom. I wanted to but was having girl issues. Uhhh… I love that movie. I loved High Fidelity. I love all of your movies. I just want to thank you for being you.”
I probably made several other stupid comments or observation about his work, but I can hardly remember as I was completely wasted at this point. He thanked me for my compliments and chuckled, then sat down. I smiled and felt elated that something so wonderful JUST HAPPENED to me out of nowhere, on a day when I felt the entire world falling around me and crushing my heart into smithereens. I added “he just spoke to me! I think I am drunk” to my notes. As we pulled into the gate and began to deplane, I kept debating if I should try to stop him again at the gate and get a photo. I didn’t wanna “ruin the moment”. I ended up grabbing my metaphorical testes and going for it. My tone implied “I know you’re going to say no but do you wanna maybe let me take a picture of us together?” He kindly turned me down, which I understood and wasn’t offended by. He offered me a tight one-armed embrace around my shoulder instead. He squeezed my shoulder and pulled me in and I said thanks, and we wished each other well. I turned, put my headphones in and started up a happier playlist as I stormed down the terminal toward baggage claim. Suddenly, my outlook had changed. I knew I was going to have to push forward through the hurt but I knew it wasn’t the end. Each step felt stronger than the last and I knew I was going to be okay. Rob Gordon knew life would go on, and so did I.