I’m a huge fan of chance meetings and flying intrigues me if for no other reason than I’m curious about who I’ll end up sitting next to on the plane. Flying used to be a lot more fun, pre-9/11, but this aspect of the flight is still something I look forward to.
Yes, I’m “that woman” on the airplane that my husband dreads having to sit next to.
Because of that I’m cautious. I sit down after boarding and say hello politely. Even if I get a response I still hold back a little to see if my fellow traveler really wants to converse. I make sure my Kindle is obviously ready to be used so my seat mate knows I have a plan for the flight.
When I traveled from Dayton to home last weekend the first segment of my flight had me next to a man who smiled and said hello when I sat down but who was silent through most of the trip. It was obvious he wasn’t a “talker” and being cognizant of not wanting to intrude, I read my book. It was only as we touched down and I made a comment about always being surprised that airplanes manage to defy the laws of physics that he said anything to me. In the few moments it took us to deplane I found out he was a painting professor at Miami of Ohio and was headed to South Carolina to give a lecture about his art. He gave me his name and told me how to find his art on the Internet. I gave him one of my Instagrams and he later sent me an email. He described himself as always being reticent on airplanes.
In contrast I sat next to a woman on the flight from Atlanta to Shreveport who talked to me the entire way home. She was lovely and we exchanged stories about children and parents and why both of us ended up living in Shreveport. It turns out her father was career military and she teaches Special Ed at one of the local high schools. Her dad retired in Shreveport and then taught Jr. ROTC at one of the local schools for ten years. Before we departed I asked her to choose an Instagram and I also gave her one of my Instagram collections to give to her dad, a series of 5 images that were all taken at Barksdale AFB where he had spent some of his career.
The correlation between these chance meetings and this photo challenge is that I enjoy getting inside people’s lives. We live in a world populated with an infinite number of people and in our lives we’ll only interact with an a very small number of them. I’m fascinated with who those people are and I want to see what I learn from being inside of their lives if only for a few minutes or perhaps an hour. I want to discover what they might teach me.
I sat next to Annette on a flight from Atlanta to Montreal earlier this summer. She was one of the silent travelers for the first part of our flight and was sleeping so I spent some time noticing the details of her. She was probably in her 80’s and impeccably dressed. Her clothing was beautifully detailed, with perfect topstitching and rows of beading stitched on her sleeve cuffs. Her nails were carefully manicured and her purse matched her outfit. Annette’s jewelry was understated yet exquisite. Her choice of clothing stood out in this day when most of us dress simply for flying because it makes it easier to get through those TSA lines.
Annette woke up half way through the flight and began talking. She was the youngest of 15 children and a twin. She had left Canada to marry an American in 1965 and on this flight she was returning home to live out the rest of her life. After a full life together in the States her husband had passed away and she was returning to the country of her birth. The last thing I noticed about Annette as we deplaned was a toe ring, discreet, yes, but a fun insight into who this woman might be underneath her well executed public façade.
I met this young man in line at the airport in Paris. We were standing there together for quite some time so we began talking. I know, no surprise there! He was returning to Canada from a family funeral. He grew up in a very traditional Indian family in the United States but went to school in Canada and now owns a gas station/truck stop in Canada. He very much wants to marry his girlfriend but she is also Indian and her marriage has already been arranged. He sadly told me that although they desperately want to be together, it’s not acceptable to go against the wishes of her parents. His sense of family respect is far too strong to risk her being disowned. He has accepted that he is caught between generations.
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I take and post an Instagram every day on my FB page. At the time of this post I’ve posted 919 images. The day before I left for Europe in June I printed my favorite ones and created a FB page for them. My intention was to give them out to random people as I traveled and have them go to the page and post a comment or perhaps a picture of their Instagram to show me where it ended up. Someone commented that it reminded them of a Flat Stanley only with Instagrams instead. Or maybe a Where’s Waldo with Instagrams. My intentions seemed to confuse people a bit so I started to take pictures of them with the Instagram they chose and began posting those photos on the page myself. Occasionally someone does go to the page and leaves a comment or a picture. In any case, the Instagrams often serve as a way for me to start talking to someone to get a glimpse inside their lives.
To visit my Instagram Facebook page please click on this link:
This has been an unusually long post for me. I leave you with an image that is a more literal take on the challenge of “inside.” My life has felt a bit inside-out lately and this cool green image makes me want to crawl into it. It feels cool and refreshing and looks like a refuge.