There is something about airports I love. No no no—there’s something about the theoretical idea of airports I love, in a Love Actually kind of way. They’re a liminal space—a nowhere, anywhere place. Everyone is leaving or arriving, sending someone off or welcoming someone home. Though they are technically part of cities, it’s more like airports are on a separate plain, the airplane dimension, that is full of waiting, chance meetings, and the crossing of life paths.
Of course the reality is more inconvenience and fidgety impatience, but I’ll stick with my idealized version of air travel for now.
My favorite plane flights, by far, have been my ones back and forth to college. I was going nowhere unusual and leaving nowhere I wouldn’t return. They were an easy two-hour escape from my daily life. But the best part was the fact that two-thirds of the plane was always filled with Claremont College students going home to (or leaving) PDX. This meant I had a very good chance of having something in common with my seat partner. Multiple times I ended up chatting the entire flight, studiously avoiding my carry-on homework. It was never anything profound, mostly complaining about finals, comparing dining hall quality, and discussing our relative Portland high schools, but I always left the plane with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Oddly, considering I went to a relatively small consortium of schools, I never ran into any of my seat buddies again, neither on campus nor on the next flight. But that’s the way of planes, isn’t it? You sit next to a stranger for a few hours, swap stories, travel a few thousand miles, and then never see them again.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight takes this quirk of air travel to the next dramatic level. What if you meet a stranger in an airport and you have an instant connection? Then by chance you have neighboring seats? What if by the end of your trans-Atlantic flight you don’t want to part for customs? Do you make the effort to track the other person down in the middle of a foreign city?
This was a short, quick, predictable book. The two main characters are a little light on depth, especially Oliver, but then Hadley has only known him for 24 hours. It’s a comfy reading experience, like a favorite romantic comedy. But it got me thinking about the strangeness and serendipity of air travel, which I have discovered is one of my favorite things.