Just Another Day In Paradise
Words & Photography by Briana E. Heard
I am here. In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and, at 10 minutes to 9pm, I believe I am staying in for the night. Not because I am tired or scared, but because I occasionally take heed of what loved ones say to me, and in addition to being asked to travel without jewelry of any sort, I have been asked to stay in after dark. As rules are meant to be broken, we shall see which one I will break first.
This deference was not the case when last night, hours before my flight was to take off I was begged not to go, by someone very important to and influential over me. It was a difficult choice to come down here alone to begin with, but then to have to clearly defy someone who means so much … in short, I was in tears when being driven to the airport at 4 o’clock this morning.
My mood did lift, if only briefly when, at the exchange station propped up at gate 107 at Newark International Airport, I was helped by a sweet young Jersey boy. He was gregarious and friendly and chatting me up big time, and this was all before 7am. The conversation flowed and he paid no attention to the urgency in my face as I eyed my nearby gate, with my flight already boarding. The highlight of this encounter, however, was when he asked me how old I was I told him to guess. Yes, I am aware this is a foolish proposition, but I did it to prove a point. And I did. He guessed 31. I gasped. Despite the fact that this young man child clearly needs to hit up the local Lens Crafters, as I am as fresh faced as they come, a man well past the arrogance of youth would never even have ventured a guess let alone an age he actually thought possible. I would have gladly accepted 21, but no, instead I got straight up reality, and really, who wants that? I would like to think I helped this man with a very serious life lesson, at least for those of the heterosexual persuasion. He can thank me later, hopefully by guessing 31 when I am boarding another flight in the international wing, only this time well into middle age.
I boarded the very full flight, wedged into a row with 2 very nice, if rotund señoras, whom have no qualms about personal space. When some moderate turbulence was hit they were hail marrying like nobody´s business. Just a word of advice – if you are hesitant to fly or don’t find the idea of bouncing up and down in a small metal coffin agreeable, try to avoid doing so next to old Latin women. Not known for their subtly or tranquility under pressure, they had me so jumpy I could barely finish my article in US Weekly, and lets face it, that would have been the real tragedy.