Love, Self

Love In The Air: A Stewardess Falls Head Over Heel

airplane taking off

On this particular morning, I was sent to the door to check boarding passes and direct people to their seats. A guy—the guy—showed me his boarding pass, looked into my eyes ... and I swear it was love at first sight. The real thing: My palms got sweaty, my heart did a triple axel, and I had to fight the urge to jump into his vintage-shirted arms. Instead, I made a mental note of his seat number, 47F, and after takeoff, planted myself at that end of the airplane.

I was 25 and had been working as a flight attendant for four years. Even though I’d had the aforementioned dates with passengers, I had never been the pursuer. This time was different. After I served him his manicotti, I asked him why he was heading to New York. “I’m moving there,” he told me. “Today?” I said. “Yup,” he said. He had curly brown hair, a face so chiseled it belonged in a museum, and was moving to my home base.

“Great!” I told him. “If you ever need anyone to show you around …” He just smiled, revealing his—yes—perfect teeth. I wasn’t surprised when I learned he was an actor. For a lot of that flight, when I wasn’t flirting with him, he was reading the New York Times Book Review or working on the Sunday crossword puzzle: the exact things I would be doing if I wasn’t pushing a heavy liquor cart up and down the aisle of a DC-10. Before landing, I found him staring out the window. “You probably don’t even notice these anymore,” he said, “but look at that sunset.”

OK. Gorgeous. Funny. Smart. Romantic. And about to walk off the airplane. I quickly scribbled my name and phone number on a cocktail napkin, then ran down the aisle to intercept him before he deplaned. I made it just as his cowboy boots landed on the jetway. “Hey!” I called, waving the cocktail napkin. “You forgot something.” “I did?” he asked. I handed him the napkin and he read it, a slow smile spreading across his face.

A couple of hours later, in my tiny apartment, I kicked off my shoes and pulled my cat onto my lap, and the phone rang. “Ann?” a voice said. “This is 47F.” Now it was my turn to smile.

We made a date for the very next day. That date lasted 14 hours. At the end of it, he asked me out for every night for the rest of the year. That became a ritual for the five years we were together.

47F was my first adult relationship, and my first and only one that started at 35,000 feet.

Ann Hood is the author of seven novels and a memoir. Her new book, The Knitting Circle, will be published by Norton in January.