Monday, May 16, 2011

Close encounters of varying kinds

The graduate, Lily, center, with Diane, to her right, and
aunts, Suzanne, left, and at right, Mel and me.

I had a wonderful though rainy weekend in St. Paul, Minneapolis, for my niece Lily's graduation from Macalester College.

Lily is Diane and David's daughter and the same age as Joe, who graduates in two weeks from Bates. So there is a whole lot of celebrating going on this month, alongside musings about where all the time went.

It is so nice when family gathers for happy occassions. I sat near Lily and her friend at dinner one night and got a chance to talk to them about their interesting plans as geography majors. We saw some of the sights in the Twin Cities and ate a lot of good food (it seemed like we were always planning our next meal!) Found some good coffee places, too.

I also met some very nice people whom I'll never see again...strangers coming together for brief connections.

The first "encounter" was on my flight from Hartford. I used to like flying, then I got afraid of flying, and now I think I'm OK again, not that I do it very much.

During my scared days, just a little bit of Ativan helped. I had brought some with me this past weekend just in case, but I didn't take it in the airport. As I sat on the plane waiting for takeoff, I thought maybe I should reconsider. (It doesn't work right away, but including a layover in Philadelphia, it was a five-hour trip.)

I called a friend who has a similar problem.

"Take it," she said.

A woman sitting across the aisle had heard my question, and she leaned over towards me and said, "Don't take it. Just breathe. You can do it."

The man in front of me turned around and gave me a thumbs up in agreement with the woman across the aisle.

The woman next to me, who told me later that she is a medical librarian at Yale, said maybe I should take it but that if I didn't and I got nervous, she would hold my hand.

I joked that maybe I should ask the whole plane.

I didn't take it. My new friends asked me a couple of times if I was OK. The librarian and I chatted a lot It was a smooth flight, and indeed I was OK.

I had another brief friendship Saturday morning at the hotel, where a free breakfast is included. The coffee, no surprise, was pretty bad. I drank a cup and then was sorry I had.

I asked a woman at the front desk if a Starbucks was nearby, and learned that there is one, but not in walking distance. The woman said I could wait for the van driver to return from an airport run and then he would take me there.

The driver was a man who looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s. He told me that he is from Ethiopa but doesn't mind the winters in Minnesota. He just bundles up and then looks forward to spring and summer, which are beautiful.

He works part-time at the hotel; his main job is as a collector for the phone company. "I'm the bad guy," he laughed. He is also pursuing a college degree in fine arts from the University of Minnesota.

When we pulled up in front of Starbucks, he said, "Tell them Amby says hello."

I did, and the two young women behind the counter smiled and said to say hi back. I was all set to go with my capuccino, but they said to wait a minute, they had one more drink.

It was Amby's usual, a skim vanilla latte (or something like that).

He broke into a big smile when I gave it to him.

"I am blessed, blessed, blessed," he said.

I feel blessed by the major events this weekend and by the anticipated ones in the coming weeks and by the small ones too.


Elayne said...

How cool to meet all those nice people! And get to see your niece graduate :) My youngest son graduated this weekend too! He did not "walk". None of my kids wanted to. Oh well, they are done :)

Diane said...

We loved having you with us as we celebrated this wonderful milestone. It meant a lot to us and to Lily that you made the trip and enjoyed yourself.

susiegb said...

Nice, happy stories ... :)