Monday, August 24, 2009

Coming back from vacation

It’s the pink elephant in the room as your vacation ends and thoughts of going back to work invade your psyche. It’s there, but you don’t want to acknowledge the fact that your total escape from accountability is coming to an end.

When I’m away, I try to be away from everything. This trip to North Carolina found me packing basically a swimsuit, flip flops, a night shirt, shorts and t-shirts. The one pair of pants I wore on the plane served me well for our solitary restaurant night. Not packed in my bag was a blow dryer or my new big-barreled curling iron for my new, shorter “do.” Nope. My hair took a vacation too and it was pretty interesting given its propensity to curl in a not-so-lovely way with sea-side humidity factoring in… Despite my hair’s self expression I enjoyed the freedom from maintenance and all things typically required in regular world. I was not ecstatic at the thought of resuming real life. Sometimes, though, the end of something wonderful opens the door to another thing totally unexpected.

My trip home was eventful in regard to meeting a very interesting person. I chose an aisle seat because I hate having to climb over two people if, God forbid, I have to use the plane’s bathroom. I was sitting there anticipating which of the people approaching me was going to occupy the center seat, hoping it would stay empty. I usually prefer not to chat (believe it or not!) and would rather sleep or read on such trips. But, the flight was oversold so I knew that seat would be filled. The man who sat next to me (man – actually, the same age as my kids) turned out to be one of the most interesting people I’ve EVER met, and we had such a terrific conversation that I’ve thought about it a lot since saying good-bye. Adam Sabourin is a Black Hawk pilot, a West Point graduate, now a full-time pilot in the Army National Guard. Adam was part of the Class of 2002 at West Point, written about in Bill Murphy Jr.'s book In A Time of War (link here: While an Army pilot, he served two tours of duty in Iraq. When I met him Saturday, he was on his way to a wedding for his friend Katie, the widow of his best friend from West Point. Her husband, Timothy Moshier, was shot down and killed in Iraq (his company replacing Adam's) in 2006, leaving behind his wife and one-year-old daughter. Adam had been to Albany once before, when he bore the honor of returning his friend's ashes to the Moshier family in Delmar. And now, he was flying in to Albany again, to attend Katie’s wedding to her second husband, also a graduate of that same West Point class. Adam spoke with such respect and regard for Tim, and for Katie, and was attending this new wedding with happy optimism for her while remembering his lost friend. What an emotional day it must have been for him.

Adam and I spoke of my connection to West Point (I was married there, at the Catholic Chapel of the Most Holy Trinity, in 1974. A family priest assigned to West Point officiated). We also spoke of our families (babies - his daughter, my grandson), work, backgrounds, and even cakes, and weddings. He told me that his mother is an accomplished cake baker. He knew a lot about the process and the demands of baking cakes for people. I told him about my blog so he added it as a “favorite” on his Blackberry, and he said he could see comparisons with my masters thesis topic and Paula Deen’s life. Turns out he knows Paula Deen’s family well, and has met her on occasion. He said she’s just as lively and vivacious in real life, a treat to know. What a wonderful two-degrees from Paula Deen I’ve experienced!

Adam and his wife Erica live in Sacremento now, have a brand new house, and are expecting their second child, a son who will join their 3-year old daughter, in October. Adam is an accomplished, confident, and honorable young man, and I’m happy to have met him. I hope to find him on facebook to continue the conversation that seems to have just begun.

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