March 7, 2005
Today was a race around travel day that took me from Cleveland to Cincinnati to Shreveport, LA and then Carthage, TX. The man next to me on the airplane from Cleveland to Cincinnati was quiet while we were in the air, looking out the window. Then as we taxied to the gate, he blurted out that he had been in Cleveland to visit his sister who has cancer. He was older, had grey hair and was wearing one of those padded plaid shirts that you see more often working outdoors than on airplanes. I asked how she was doing and he said,"not so good." I said I was sorry. What else was there to say? He was obviously in pain and he just wanted to get it off his chest. I wonder what it is that invites people to spill out their inner feelings into the darkness of an airplane to a total stranger? Maybe it’s that there is a freedom in talking to strangers because they won’t remind you of what you said the next day. You can just say it and let it be.
In Carthage, TX, I had dinner with Lynda Johnson who took me to a restaurant that specialized in catfish. I ate two new food items – marinated green tomatoes (yum) and something called boiled water corn bread, made from pouring boiling water onto corn meal, shaping the gook into balls and frying it. It was kind of crusty hard, but very tasty. Then Lynda dropped me off at a little bed and breakfast cottage to spend the night. It was charming, cozy, plaid bedspread with comfy chairs, painted mostly bright white. Only problem, one other occupant had checked in ahead of me – a wasp the size of a sparrow. I thought about attacking it with a rolled up magazine or hair spray, but since it wasn’t bothering me, I didn’t bother it. We got along okay just ignoring one another.