Airplanes in the Night

This is the story of how I met a stranger an ocean and a continent from home only to find out that we’ve been unknowingly crossing paths for years.

I am Canadian/American/Taiwanese. He is Dutch/German/Spanish. Our lives have taken us through many countries, continents, and decades before finally converging one cold and sunny day in London on the 1st of December, 2016.

As we learned about each other, we also learned that we’ve both been in the same international city at the same time on at least 5 different occasions throughout the years.

We quickly recognized ourselves in each other. Our life experiences, hopes, dreams, interests and passions, and future plans are in uncanny alignment. We do the same thing for work. We are endlessly nomadic. We want high-flying careers but also to spend the rest of our lives wandering the world.

I’ve seen and experienced enough that I no longer believe in coincidence or fate.

I do, however, still believe in poetry.

This poem is dedicated to my incredible man whom I would never have met had it not been for that long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers that started binding us some long-gone year.


Airplanes in the Night

How long have we been airplanes passing in the night?
Engines cooling and warming with each sunrise, each snowfall,
Each spectacle of each New Year painting the sky with lights like magic.
Clocks tick, sands fall, streets bustle, and cities grow and decay.
Tulips bloom in Holland, rain falls in the Pacific Northwest.
Stories are told, memories are made—
Until one day—
The stories stop.
And they fade.

The sun sets on Shanghai, high noon hits Rome,
And the first slivers of day break New York.
Seasons change, as have we, through time
Through years and decades of countries and continents
And faces that have loved us and hurt us
And shot through our souls like angels or ghosts
And then—
There’s you and I.
We’ve been airplanes passing in the night.

Did my arm ever brush yours one evening in Times Square?
Did our shadows touch somewhere between Wall Street and Queens?
Did we ever bump shoulders one hot day in Istanbul, one cold night in Amsterdam?
Or lock eyes under a supermoon in the desert that calls itself Paradise?
Did I see myself in you then? Did you see yourself in me?
Could I have recognized me? Could you have recognized you?
Or was it just not meant to be?
Not yet.

When did it start?
How long as it been?
How long have we been passing each other by?
Did you ever fly over my head on some transcontinental flight?
Did I, looking up at the sky, think you to be the first star I saw that night?
Did I ever make a wish upon your metallic lights?
Did you ever make a wish upon mine?

And then
And then
One day
By some miscalculation of trajectory,
Or some wanton twist of fate yet unknown whether cruel or kind,
Or simply by divine intervention,
In mid-air, mid-journey, somewhere through our bright and heart-breaking lives—
We collide.

Was it coincidence I ran into you that busy late autumn day?
Or did our stars finally align?
Did London stop for a second when your eyes first met mine
Or were we just two people casually passing by?

And what happens when two airplanes collide in the night?
Does the debris burn up the sky?
Does it fall to the ground like stars?
And I can’t help but wonder, now that we’ve for certain locked eyes
And recognized none other than ourselves—
If we’ve reached the end of this long, long night
And the dawn is a world that calls itself Paradise.