Courtney S. Barr

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Who have you talked to lately?

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for the day-job. Just yesterday I returned from an overnight (yes overnight) trip from Tuscaloosa to Minneapolis. It was planned that I would be home by mid-evening yesterday but...well...the Travel Gods had other plans. Yep Chicago had me for an extra 7.5 hours.

That is a little longer than I normally spend in an airport.

But...there was a silver lining. Once the aggravation, annoyance and realization that the food court had Twizzlers & Fruit Snacks everything was better. On my trip up to Minneapolis I read Old Magic by Marianne Curley (wonderful book by the way - VERY interesting main characters in Kate & Jarrod) and on the way back discovered I was without a book EEK!!! Yep, so I decided to sketch a little, then I bought a magazine, then I wandered around the shops, then I finished the Twizzlers, then I bought more, then I ate the Fruit Snacks, then I bought more...(forget the pattern it is merely a distraction). I finally found a comfortable spot (at what was hopefully but not really the last gate they would move my flight to) and decided to click on the iPod for a little while. It was after doing this that everything shifted.

All around me people were working to decipher how they would arrive at their destination, how they could somehow manage to manipulate something completely out of their control and make it work for them. It is at that moment I laughed..yep you know me.. out loud and quite hysterically due to the tired mind. I was yet again perplexed by the many ways that life steps in.

You see in the 2.5 hours I had already spent at the Chicago Midway Airport I had befriended & shared a pizza with a young man of twenty-four. He is in barber school in Chicago and was headed on Spring Break to Phoenix. He aspires one day to be a musical engineer. He talked passionately about his love for music in every genre and how it lead to his first & only tattoo. We discussed how great Arizona is, how the weather in Chicago was, the crazy way the airlines were acting and just got to know one another. Luckily his flight left after only an hour delay. His name was Darius.

Next I befriended Gloria. She was on her way to Baltimore to visit family. It has been two years since her return home. Work & money has kept her from seeing them. She gave me her copy of LUCKY magazine and I watched her beer & bags for her while she stood at the counter to hear the status of her delayed flight. She made it out of there about 15 minutes after that.

2 more hours pass and I am curled up in a chair listening to music and sporadically watching a FRIENDS episode on my iPod. Then Trina sits beside me and smiles. She is 8 years old, brunette, her favorite word is jelly (oh and she says: jah-el-ly) and her older brother is taking her to see her aunt in San Diego. Her brother is 16. They will be moving in with their aunt for good this summer. I don't know the details other than there are limited options, but I can tell you at 16 Stanley is an awesome young man. He spoke to her in a voice that all little sisters love: the one that says "I am listening, you are important to me". They chatted, we played games on my phone and the DS she had with her. They were not delayed and I was sad to see them go.

Kevin is 31. He was raised in Ft. Lauderdale. He now lives outside Arizona. He was supposed to be in Orlando...yeah wasn't there yet. His final destination was outside Columbus, Georgia. He enjoys traveling, but normally drives. He makes this trek every year during the same time. His grandmother is 94 today. 180 people will commence on her rural town, all related, all excited and all because she said to come. He told me she is still as spry and demanding as always. "The hell you catch if you don't go is much worse than 32 hours in a car to get there." He said with a grin. We talked about travels, about routes, about how far Birmingham is from Atlanta. He told me of how she still lives in the same spot she's lived in since 1934 when she was married at 18. Her husband passed away almost 20 years ago. They could not get her to move, but she did finally allow them to build her a new home where her "shack" used to be. Kevin said that she made them promise it would sit on the same spot of land her husband worked so hard to procure when they were young. He spoke of her with a smile in his eyes and it moved me. I had him from Chicago to Birmingham. We shared a row on the plane and I smiled the entire flight (oh there was a moment of concern when the pilot sort of just dropped the plane down but that is an entirely other story). We parted ways at the exit and I wished him safe travels.

We are all weary travelers. We all tend to get ill when we lose a little control or the end is just out of reach. We forget that every day is a travel destination waiting to happen. We sometimes overlook the fact that being travelers is a gift not a hassle. Yes, things do get a little crazy and we get disturbed when not in our normal habitat but then, then we see it.
I saw how glorious a sibling can be when obviously he has had to be more than a sibling.
I watched a little girl look at a boy already acknowledging that Superman has nothing on her big brother.
I shared lunch with a complete stranger and found a passionate dreamer beneath what stereotypes would call thuggish.
I listened to a woman whose voice caught when she spoke of going home again.
I watched a man describe a woman who is first an amazing person then a grandmother.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights;
it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Miriam Beard

This quote is one of my favorites. When I first starting really traveling for the day job I memorized it. Sadly sometimes I fail to bring it forward when my travels don't go as planned. But this time I had some help from some strangers who reminded me that I am not the only aggravated passenger on Southwest flight 283, that I luckily get to visit my family often, that I have two parents who loved me growing up & still do, that stereotypes really shouldn't make us judge, and that living life is an awesome gift - to live it for almost 100 years is beyond phenomenal. It wasn't a Hallmark scripted television show that reminded me or even a fictional story, it was travelers, strangers, new friends, and real characters. It is refreshing to be reminded how real life can be.

Who have you talked to lately? A stranger? A family member? A friend? Whoever it is, why did the conversation leave a mark on your memory?


  1. My mom. Her words always wpuld always impact me one way or another.

    Your blog is really nice :)

  2. What a great story. Well, not the part about being stuck, but what you got from it. I love airports. They're such great places to watch and listen to people from all kinds of places you've never really thought much about. You hear great conversations all around you if you listen.

    It's like that with buses and trains too, I think. Living in Manhattan, I heard the best conversations on trains, on buses, and just walking along the street. Some of them made their way into my WIP.

  3. ...a handsome Swiss man. Yesterday I had lunch with this man after sitting next to him all morning in a workshop. He reminded me of a past love, so much so that I must confess I imagined myself having lunch with my past and not my present. But the conversation will stick with me nonetheless.

  4. This is a beautiful post, Courtney. I had to read it twice! This is part of the reason I confessed to secretly liking airport layovers. That's a lot of great story material! I love the Superman vs. big brother line. :-)

  5. I love seeing world through your eyes and I love that you have a talent for putting all into lovely words. I talked wit my sister yesterday for an hour or so and she affects my life so much. I am grateful for her example of unselfish love.

  6. Everyone really does have a story to tell, don't they? What a lovely post, Courtney! I think we often get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget to connect with others in a meaningful way. What a blessing to have been able to meet such a diverse bunch on something as stinky as a 7.5 hour layover!

    my blog

  7. I'm heading to England via Chicago on Tuesday, this blogpost really hit home--I'm a travel chatterer too. I love meeting new people, I just hope I'm not delayed! Yikes!


  8. That's awesome, Courtney! You write beautifully too. It sounds like you made the most of your time, and it's so cool that you met some awesome people.

  9. Aww, I got a lil teary on this one. I LOVE AIRPORTS. I never mind getting delayed. When I used to travel a lot I'd call my mom anytime flight plans changed and was usually happy to report a flight had been delayed. It meant more time to people watch.
    Was kevin single ;)

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Oh, how I love this!! I lvoe traveling, but it can definitely be so stressful. But you've turned such a potentially awful experience into something memorable. I wouldn't have expected any less of you, m'dear. You're amazing.

  11. I am blessed to have talked to you, my Princess.You were blessed to really recongize one of life's realities, better than any awful reality show. You saw beneath the low of the delay and focused on the beauty around you in the people that you met, and shared so beautifully your blessing with those who read your blog. Thank you.
    Love Mom

  12. What a great piece of writing. And so, true. I spend my fair share of time in airports and it's amazing how many interesting people there are in this world.

    btw, thanks for the follow!

  13. Little Flower - thank you. I am glad to hear that you cherish your mom...they are quite special aren't they?

    Sarahjayne - thanks, yeah being stuck...was an adventure lol. Buses & trains are the same I think too, sometimes they provided an even more interesting time because they are definitely a glimpse, the travel time is normally much shorter so the impact can be many and high.

    Wendy - Thank you so much for stopping by! Ahhh... what a delicious reverie. How funny is it that sometimes when we least expect it we discover a memory that means more than any photograph...

    Shannon O'-thanks! So glad to see you come around the kingdom. There is TONS of character inspiration in an airport... I found myself grinning more often than fussing as I studied people shuffling around. We are amazing creatures.

    Tracyp - thank you! sisters are such a special gift. As a child I always suspected that sisters were one of the best things created now I know they are...

    Tracy - thanks..everyone's story is so unique, so perfect for that person and often we miss that in our hurried living. They were all wonderful people!

    Jenni - I so hope your travel goes well! London! What fun!I do wish you many travel friends though. Yes, I am definitely a talker! lol Can you tell? ;o)

    Steph - thanks! Yes so many people, these are the ones that stayed with me hours after arriving home and through the next day. I found myself today thinking of Kevin & wondering how the festivities bizarre that he is someone I never knew, may never see again, yet he is now in my collection of memories..

    Karen - lol yes Kevin was single. ;o) Airports are amazing. People watching was definitely invented at an airport! Boy the things you

    Carol - yes! always reaching for my silver lining (I mean who doesn't love bling? ;o) )It was an adventure. I am glad to share it with everyone and hopefully wish good travels to's that blogcation going????

    dsunshine(mom) - thanks so much for stopping by. You really have no idea how much you & dad crossed my mind while sitting there. It was crazy, annoying, enlightening & wonderful to realize that life is life and we are blessed just to live it. I thank you, always, for being the reason I am constantly searching for my silver linings. You & dad gave me that gift & I am forever grateful.

  14. Elle - I missed you while I was replying! Thank you so much for stopping by. You are so welcome, I love your blog! ;o) Yes traveling helps us to remember our differences are our greatest gifts.


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