Monday, April 21, 2014

Benches, Ghosts, and Pilots

You may have noticed a lull in postings last week. It was due entirely to school vacation - the euphoric "Spring Break" for the year of vortexes and never ending Winter.

I was fortunate enough to visit the city of Savannah, GA during that week. It was my first time there, and I arrived with very few expectations. I knew very little about the city, but it did not take long for it me to develop a soft spot for Savannah.

Savannah is a city full of stories. There are stories about the buildings, their inhabitants, their guests, the wood and plaster of the walls; there are stories in the very bricks of Savannah's twenty-four public squares. At night you can walk the streets and see small groups of people huddled around guides of "ghost tours" telling stories of those who refuse to leave The Hostess City. You can even see the locations used by Hollywood storytellers, including my personal favorite, Chippewa Square, the filming location for all the bench scenes in Forrest Gump.

Stories never stop in Savannah. The river welcomes and bids farewell to giant trans-Atlantic vessels stacked with containers. Each a story in itself; each a story yet to tell; each embarking on a journey that has been at the heart of so many stories.

The city also hosts an ever-growing arts college, The Savannah College of Art and Design. Every street is littered with SCAD-clad undergraduates: painters, photographers, game designers, filmmakers. Each searching for his or her own story told in a way unlike any told before.

Here's my story. On our last night in Savannah, my wife and I sat in our hotel restaurant to celebrate our time there. As we sat and chatted, a man came and sat to my right. I glanced over and noticed his hat: a hat from a brewery in my home state of Maine.

Odd, I thought, to see that hat so many miles from Maine. I asked him about it, puzzled that such a coincidence would occur at this time. He was from New Hampshire, had visited Portland, ME on several occasions, etc, etc. I asked him what brought him to Savannah, and he replied that he was a pilot training with the Gulfstream company - makers of multi-million dollar private jets, based at Savannah International Airport.

Our small talk continued as I asked about his training, if he was military or had flown privately. He had attended Embry Riddle University in Florida. My wife and I had a friend who went there, who also wanted to be a pilot, but had been in a motorcycle crash and could no longer fly.

Strange, said our new friend, he knew someone like that too.

We continued, the similarities increased, and we culminated with the realization that a second mutual friend would be joining our new pilot friend in two weeks at a wedding, and that we may have, in fact, met during our college Spring Break thirteen years prior.

When you consider the circumstances that must occur for such a meeting to take place, the mind reels. What's more, this isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened to me.

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