Stories in the Sky

Since September I have been on and off airplanes in five states - NC, TN, KS, SC and CA - traveling to tell stories. Flying is not my most favorite sport ...but as I review the trips I have to say I sat with some very fascinating folks and the conversations were worth the rolls and bumps. 

One conversation was with seat mate who was a Boeing mechanic. He recognized my nerves and every time the wind tossed us around he would tap my arm saying, "don't worry about that one. The wings will stay one." We talked about a lot more and a native of the Jonesborough, TN area he was a natural storyteller.

I loved the trip to Kansas City, KS when I flew out to tell The Hello Girls at the National World War One Museum and Memorial. I was traveling with my son Jim who was as eager as I was to visit that museum. We were sitting separately because we both prefer aisle seats. My seat-mate was friendly and ready to chat. By the time I reached our destination he had filled me in on some places to eat in SC when I was there performing for the Starburst Storytelling Festival and he urged me to have a dinner at Jack's Stack Barbecure in Kansas City. Jimmy and I were very grateful for his advice as we ate our fill of fabulous food later that evening. The museum was a total winner and I was grateful for the opportunity to tell the WWI Hello Girls story where it belongs.

Several weeks later returning from SC I shared a two seat side of the aisle with a Clemson post-doc student. He was as unhappy as I was about being on an itty bitty prop plane especially since he was in the window seat right beside the rotating propellors. We talked and laughed our way through some rough flying all the way to Dulles Airport. While the wheels squealed and smoked on the runway on landing he pulled out his phone and took a Selfie of us laughing..then he gave me a big bear hug.

On my way West to CA from Dulles Airport, I was sitting in an aisle seat next to a SC guy tall enough to make a name for himself on a basketball court. First off he introduced me to his lovely girl friend who was  quite small on the Face Time screen. Later he told me he was from Charleston. When I expressed my sadness over the church shooting tragedy he told me he knew the lone survivor of that horrifying madness. He shared his story and showed me a few pictures taken at the Memorial Service which included President Obama. I felt touched and quite privileged to hear the story.

Six hours is a long time headed to San Francisco. Later when my seat mate nodded off I said something to a woman sitting across the aisle from me. (You know that is only about two feet away.) She was a darling contemporary.  Somehow we soon learned that we were fellow widows who had walked similar paths. She conducts Bible retreats and exudes warm kindness to everyone. We exchanged emails and I hope our paths will cross again in PA.

Two weeks later returning home on my final flight for this year I was sitting with a young guy who coming home to his TV job in DC. We warmed to each other and were soon chatting about the Thanksgiving holiday. He had me in stitches with stories of his week with four family fema-nazis saying, "every conversation ended with me on the defense of my gender." Later he shared a remarkable story of his family history. HIs vivid images gave away his theater background and I nudged him toward Speakeasy DC saying "you are a natural."

Was it really a five hour trip? 

I know people who say they never talk to seat mates when they fly. "I like to read, or work,  or watch a movie", they say.  To each their own. 

How about you. What stories do you gather when you are trapped in 24 inches of cramped space  while you are sitting in the limitless vastness of the sky? 

(P.S.  I borrowed the "sitting in the sky" line from Louis C.K. because I laugh out loud over that image and hope you will too.)

1 comment:

Still the Lucky Few said...

As someone who doesn't like flying a whole lot, you are an example of someone who finds the best in all situations. I love the way you just get on with it, with zest!