Even when flying for pleasure, you can't take the flight attendant out of JB. Before we were even half way to cruising altitude, he was out of his seat and huddled in the galley talking and laughing with the crew like old friends.
While I was trying to sign onto the inflight wi-fi, a flight attendant leaned over to set a double Bloody Mary on my tray table. "Happy birthday," she whispered in my ear. I love flying with JB.
As we followed the signs to Ground Transportation, JB kept the charm going and made friendly smalltalk with the woman behind the Avis rental counter. Within four minutes he learned "Bella" was short for Isabella; he knew how long she's been living in Florida and the series of events which led her here; and he confirmed that yes -- at times -- Bella still misses New Jersey.
I know JB well enough to know he was angling for an upgrade, but I also know that he doesn't have a single phony bone in his body. (Not counting his right hip.)
I've always admired his friendly, approachable personality and the ease with which he relates to people. I suppose that's what makes him so good at his job. And also why he enjoys it so much.
Taking the wheel of the Mustang, JB pulled out of the lot, pausing a few seconds to contemplate the "severe tire damage" spikes, then turned toward the highway. But not before we took a few minutes to figure out how to retract the convertible top and scan the FM dial. We stopped on a station playing a special tribute program to honor the memory and talent of Donna Summer.
Cruising south on I-95 toward Miami, enjoying the feel of the sun and warm breeze on my face, I made a decision. I decided to let go of the worry and stress from the weeks behind and embrace the weekend with a blank slate.
And in that moment I felt myself relax into the passenger seat just as one of my favorites came on the radio. An overwhelming sense of gratitude and contentment washed over, warming me in places the Florida sun could never hope to reach.
"Dim all the lights sweet darling / 'cause tonight it's all the way / Turn up the old Victrola / gonna dance the night away..."
I reached over and squeezed JB's hand. "...love just don't come easy / no it seldom does..." He looked over at me and winked. I tried to say 'thank you', but the lump in my throat wouldn't let the sound come out. "...when you find the perfect love / let it fill you up..." He read my lips and squeezed back.
"Dim all the lights sweet honey / 'cause tonight it's you and me..."