06/06/2008/8:38 am, Georgetown SC
I arrived back at Charleston on Thursday after a convoluted (and conversational) journey. Jim and I went off to dinner at the Shem Creek Bar and Grill for one more feast - this time we shared the Seafood Spectacular Platter and it was still spectacular. It was about 30 C and humid so our walk back was leeeeeisurelyyyyyy.
In contrast with my last trip and last rant, on the way from Moncton to Toronto I had a great conversation with Stefan, a pilot on his way to work,and we both managed to read our books as well. Once there, I was delighted to spot fellow sailor, Chris (Arctura) from Summerside, last seen in the St. Lawrence River last spring. My seatmate was congenial on the Toronto-Washington leg too. He had a nap and then as we were landing, told me about a neat system that links autopilot to PFD. If you fall overboard, the boat will turn itself around. Pretty cool! Washington was where the opportunities for interaction expanded beyond what I might have liked. My flight to Charleston was supposed to leave after a four-hour interval- by the time we loaded it had stretched to six hours, and by the time we sat out the second electrical storm of the day and returned to the gate, it was another couple of hours. You can bet there was lots of conversation going on. Then add the three and a half hours in line at the United Airlines Customer Service desk - lots of talk with interesting people there too, including Sue who had rented a house on Great Guana Cay a few years back.
There were companionable groans and sighs as many of us sprawled on benches and on the floor overnight, waves of recognition and wishes for smoother travels as we passed each other in the corridors the next morning. I had a nice nap on the way from Washington to Chicago - yep, Chicago! Then two hours later I headed south again to Charleston. What a roundabout journey.
Stepping back a day or two (this is a convoluted posting too), my visit to Amherst was very good. It was a chance to spend some family time with my father, my sister and her husband. Dad and I visited the Fossil Cliffs Museum in Joggins and it's a place to put on your list if you are traveling to Nova Scotia. The award-winning building is beautiful, the staff is friendly, and the information about fossils is just mind-blowing. The oldest reptiles on the planet were found there. Joggins is a tiny cluster of houses nestled on the edge of the Bay of Fundy. It was a mining centre years ago and repository of some remarkable finds in the cliffs along the shore, described by some as the "Coal Age Galapagos". Check out www.jogginsfossilcliffs.net for more info.
We went to the Dessert Theatre at First Baptist Church in Amherst, a welcoming church whose doors are wide open for tourists who want to view the beautiful building, folks who want to talk and those who want to pray. We laughed and cried and applauded the acting and dancing talents of the remarkable young people taking part. We roared with laughter at skits of Oprah interviewing polygamists from River Hebert, Martha Stewart ignoring global issues in favour of cupcakes, and a battle of the remote controls at a seniors centre. We also devoured every last morsel of delicious chocolate brownie topped with ice cream and fudge sauce and fluffy cake with lemon filling.
Mary Beth and I (and a big group of her friends) saw the new movie, Sex and the City It was pretty good, even though I hadn't watched any of the TV episodes. The clothes were great - especially for someone who has been wearing the same few pairs of shorts and T-shirts for the last 8 months. It was so nice to just hang out with her for a couple of evenings and fill myself right up with all that mother-daughter companionship.
Jim amused himself with scrubbing, waxing, and checking all the little parts that come loose, interspersed with some touring around Charleston.
We left on Friday morning after pumping in 23 US gallons of diesel (at a cost of $124.81) and pumping out a week's worth of sewage. The trip up the ICW was uneventful and after about 10 ½ hours we pulled into Georgetown, SC. The only bits of excitement were swatting at big deerflies - or horseflies - or somethings that were big and brown and took chunks out of us whenever they could, and counting fishing boats - over 30 passed us between 5:30 and 6:30 pm - heading back into the harbour. The current was with us for the first part of the trip and agin us at the last. Tomorrow Sue and Terry arrive for a couple of days of visiting. It's good to be on the water again!
31/05/2008/7:35 pm, Charleston, SC/Amherst, NS
OK, I admit it right up front - this is a gross oversimplification. But... there are some things on my mind. Can you hear the rant coming?
I left Charleston early Friday morning to fly home to Nova Scotia for a visit with my dad and Jim stayed on board Madcap. We both ended up having experiences that fit this heading. I flew from Charleston to Washington to Ottawa to Toronto to Moncton - that's four flights and five airports. Should be ample opportunity for some conversations and new experiences, right? Wrong. People talked only with those they were accompanying, or they kept their heads in books and papers, or they looked around without focusing on anything. The incident that hit home the most was on the last flight. I had at least been able to exchange a hello with the person seated nearest me on one of the other flights but the last guy foiled me completely.
I had the window seat; the middle one was empty; a short, grey-haired, well-dressed man sat on the aisle. He didn't come anywhere close to making eye contact as he put his briefcase in the overhead compartment or as he sat down. I'm pretty quick to offer a greeting, but I do find it hard to do without eye contact so, even as I read my own book, I kept alert for that opportunity. It never came. He never looked sideways. When the plane finally landed and we all stirred to collect our belongings, his eyes slid across and over me without pausing. I smiled but I might as well have been invisible.
I know that unwanted conversations in tight quarters can be a pain. I know that sometimes we all have things on our minds and don't want to talk. I know some people are shyer than others. I know this was probably just a run of people preoccupied with their own concerns. But... what a loss for us all. In that one particular example, he might have had some really interesting thoughts to share. He might have been interested in what I'm doing. At the very least, we would have acknowledged each other's presence and wished each other a pleasant day. There would have been some kind of communication.
As for Jim - he went to the beach party at the resort that a couple of folks had told him about. When I talked with him on the phone later, he said he stood pretty much by himself. One fellow talked with him but that was all. Folks conversed within their own groups, and we all know it is really hard to break into a closed group - if we even dare to try. The music was good and he enjoyed that. But... how much richer an experience it could have been. (Like the next night when a cruiser from down the dock came along and invited him over for a fabulous evening.)
How did we get to this practice of ignoring the people we are among? When did we stop being interested in others? Why did we start believing it is acceptable to dismiss the traditional patterns of greeting? Whatever happened to the simple joy of, even briefly, meeting someone new?
I like the way they do it in the Bahamas: they wave or nod and say "Hello" and "Goodbye". They ask, "How are you doing?" and maybe they even mean it. Sometimes real conversations evolve.
I like the way cruisers do it - except perhaps in Georgetown, Exumas - I think I grumbled about that a while ago!). We wave and say "Hello" and "Fair Winds". We ask, "Where have you been?" and "Where are you going?" and "What was it like?" and "Are you having a good trip?" and we usually really want to know. Sometimes new friendships are formed; sometimes it is simply best wishes that are exchanged as each boat goes on its way.
Each interaction steadies our keels, adds wind to our sails or gives our engines a boost. Each interaction acknowledges our presence in the world. And Good Grief! How can that not be worth it?!