I like to fly. I still have the romantic image of flying from when I was a child. My parents dressed me up; you always dressed nicely for a flight. You got to the airport, waited patiently (as patient as a small child who loves airplanes can be); boarded the plane and off we flew. The experience was amazing. Well that’s what I remember, and since it is my memory I am going to keep it that way.
I am flying back from Germany. One of the little games I play in my head is called “Seatmate Roulette.” Sometimes I am really lucky, there was this one time where I sat next to a dancer from Cirque du Soleil, other times I am presented with well the bullet.
Today however was a lucky day – I was fortunate enough to be seated next to a 17 year old young woman who gave me faith that my own little girl has a chance. This young lady was amazingly polite, yet managed to give her little brother a hard time when he couldn’t actually figure out what country were leaving (in his defense he is 13 and well he is 13.) I smiled and settled back to read whatever men’s magazine I snagged in the airport and this young lady pulls out “Freakonomics” For the crowd reading at home – not necessarily the reading you expect out of a 17 year old, heck I read it and most people would wonder what I was doing carrying the book around. I was amazed and congratulated her on her selection, and she began a conversation with me.
Let be known that I talk to everyone. I like hearing about peoples’ experiences. I like to hear their stories.
So I discover that Katie is being moved back to the US. She has spent the last 13 years living in Belgium. She like any high school’r is a bit worried about things: her boyfriend is still in Belgium (he will visit in October and December), the fact that she has been able to enjoy a glass of wine with her family since she was 16 (we tend to frown upon that in the States), she has never even driven a car and will have to get her permit in the coming month (her brother failed the first time he took the test and he was a freshman in college), she played sports at her school in Belgium and now she has to start the whole process over again (volleyball, basketball and track – no Futbol.)
It was refreshing to talk to this young lady. She was a confident young woman who had grown up abroad, understood that she would have to deal with cliques and silly girl stuff that just isn’t as important outside the US. She was scared but also aware that she could conquer these fears.
We talked off and on as we flew from Frankfurt to Washington, DC. I asked questions about growing up abroad. She said that going to International Schools were amazing – you constantly got to meet new kids. Everyone was always open to new people joining the group. She talked about how amazing it was to be part of sports teams that traveled around Europe. She told me about shopping trips to Singapore with her mother. I enjoyed every minute of the trip, listening to her stories.
When we got to DC I was able to commend her mother on having such a wonderful daughter. I wish I had gushed more. Her daughter is something wonderful.
I can only hope that my wife and I can raise our daughter to be this confident and sure of herself. The world needs more young women like this and the Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton crowd aren’t creating them.