Flying to Carolina

My wife tells me she would like to get inside my head for a day and just look around. I tell her I’d like a little notice so I can tidy up the place, take out the trash, and make my bed. 

Maybe today would be a good day for her to visit my brain as we are flying into Myrtle Beach, the day after Hurricane Ian hit. My mind goes into scatter mode while traveling by air and moving about airports. Here are the musings of a scatterbrained airline traveler. 

9:30 pm September 30, 2022

We just moved into a new office building. Eighteen years in our old office building. We pulled off the nameplate Terrel Taylor from my papa’s office door for the last time. Maybe we will find a place to mount it in the new place. I am exhausted. We travel tomorrow. Hope I can sleep.

3:02 am October 1, 2022

I glance at my phone in the dark hours before dawn. I like to guess the time before I look and sometimes I am correct to the exact minute, although there is the surprise moment of disbelief when I am several hours off my estimate and it discombobulates the remainder of my sleep. This morning, I guess 3:00. It is 3:02. My Delta boarding pass dings my phone reminding me that we are flying to Myrtle Beach by way of Atlanta.

4:00 am is a great time to drive to the airport unless you are flying out of LAX.

5:00 am

I severely dislike going about the security line dance in socked-feet. It is not sanitary nor dignified. I am standing in line for the “hands over your head” scanner and a TSA guy with authority issues looks at me and motions me to come into the metal detector line. I look him in the eye and decline by shaking my head firmly sideways. My knee hardware will set off that old metal detector and they will ask if I want a private room or a public room for the ensuing pat down of every surface of my body. This has happened to me once and even though tactile is my love language, I don’t want to endure a second public humiliation.

5:20 am

Karen strikes up a conversation with a woman who claims that she doesn’t typically carry on conversations in airports. She is visiting her 6th grandchild. Our 1st and 2nd are due soon. They talk like old friends. 

5:25 am

The man behind me in the cofffee line asks the guy up ahead at the pickup line, “Did you lose your pants?” (Someone had apparently left a pair on the floor. He looks around at the guy befuddled by the question and inquires, “What size are they?”


Returning to gate 4A, I hand a coffee with cream to Karen. She says, “That women is me.” I look across several rows to see a women posing as my wife, a sandy blonde Sandra Dee, no makeup yet pretty, comfortable white sandals, a cream smock, yoga pants, in the realm of her fifties. With her, a dowdy, frumpy man in grandad clothes whom I assume to be her husband. I hope he is not my doppelgänger. 

5:50 am 

We are meeting my brother and his wife who are sitting on the tarmac in Syracuse. They text us: “We have to get off the plane while they fix it.” I suggest duct tape and get a laughing emoji. 

6:00 am

We are taking off. I just finished David Mculloughs book about the Wright brothers. Takeoffs never fail to amaze me and I wish Orville and Wilbur Wright were sitting beside me so I could ask them their thoughts on flying now versus then. 

6:20 am 

My mind drifts to November 1963 with my dad next to the mechanics garage of the Apco filling station. Bored, I stuck my finger in a rag ringer, an electric motor driven rubber roller mounted atop a laundry tub, because I was curious to see what would happen. It grabbed my finger and pulled it in before I panicked and yanked it out. Shaken by the experience, I wandered into the gas station lobby and heard a newsman talking through a transistor radio. John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas. I don’t know why I thought this but it enters my mind every few years and I think about how huge and scary the world seemed to this three-year-old kid. Flying at 33,000 feet gives me a bigger perspective on the world that explodes past my parochial smallness, my tiny life, my little lawn, which is currently being destroyed by an armadillo nose diving for grub worms. 1st world problems…

6:30 am

The sun is coming up and the eastern horizon is blazing orange. I wrote my father-in-laws eulogy on an American Airlines boarding pass in 2003 watching this same scene, this same sun, this same bride next to me. Karen raises her left leg vertically to the ceiling (yoga) and swings both legs across my lap. She tries to sleep. So much has happened in 20 years. I miss my father-in-law, Thom Mason, a good, just, hard-working man. Below the mighty Mississippi River snakes toward Memphis and the Gulf.

8:30 am EST 

Landed Atlanta 

I thank the pilot on departing and give him a thumbs up and say “Great flight.”

How long would it take me to learn to fly one of these jets? I wonder if the pilot has read The Wright Brothers.

10:32 am

Dad loved driving trips, and conversely he hated flying. In his later years, I could hear dad snoring from his daily nap in his office which shared a wall with mine. He slept curled up on a plaid jewel-toned 80’s era sofa, now sitting in the alley of the old office. It has a red swath of tape marking it for the dump or for whomever wants to haul it away and carry on the napping tradition of my father.

Twenty-three years ago dad awoke from another kind of nap, from an anesthesia cocktail nap, after six-bypass heart surgery. In the recovery room, awakening to discover that he was warm and alive, the nurses heard him singing in full voice, the hymn, “Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound.” I won’t miss that ugly sofa, but I do miss dad.

12:15 pm

Waiting for take off, 47 minutes to Myrtle Beach. Toby and Deb have landed and will collect the rental car. We hope to see minimal hurricane damage.

2:30 pm

Our hotel seems unscathed from the hurricane. There is some storm surge debris on the beach. Glad to be here on the ground at sea level.

2 thoughts on “Flying to Carolina

  1. Going to help rebuild? Or was this a previously scheduled vacation? Glad to hear your hotel is in good shape. Fond memories of Myrtle Beach. My sisters and I spent an amazing week there together several years ago.

    Kelvin & Kathy Hoover are staying with us this weekend. As I was returning Kelvin’s call he was on his way to Bartlesville to visit with your mom. Apparently your parents supported his parents while they attended Sunset school of preaching and later helped Kelvin and his siblings when they went through the AIM program. Always amazed to hear how far reaching your parents generosity spread.

    Judy Baird Hinds

  2. Think i recall a carolina trip via HU van circa maybe Spring ‘79 or ‘80. Cant remember yesterday but i think Pinehurst might have had 4 Courses then… good times. DP

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