(front) Melissa, Ryan, Nathan, Candice, Adam, Nicole. (behind) Maria, Mike & me in Newnan on Wednesday night
(top) Nyla & Justyce (bottom) Twanna & me, all doing our best to strike an original pose in Union City on Tuesday nightAs you will notice, I've been running about a week behind updating my site. I am writing this sitting in a coffee shop in Auburn, AL. Yet in my last blog post I was only as far as East Point, GA. That's 106 miles and seven days to catch up on. So this will be my version of a hurry up offense. First up .... waiting for a break in the clouds.
I spent Tuesday night being hosted by Twanna Copeland and her two children Justyce and Nyla in Union City. Twanna had been told about my blog, noticed my need in Union City and came to the rescue. Appropriate to the location (his studios are just a few miles away), I watched my first Tyler Perry movie with them on Tuesday night. It was a called, "Why Did I Get Married?". I couldn't relate to the question, but it was starring Tyler himself, Jill Scott and Joe Jackson. Whoops, I mean Janet. What can I say, she does look a lot like her daddy, especially with her hair pulled back. The plot was a bit predictable and the ending a more than touch convenient but in between it earned some genuine laughs with the audaciousness of the problems each couple was facing. If it was supposed to be a paean to the beauty of marriage despite the difficulties, it didn't quite have that effect on me. The only other thing I can say is ... BOOM! (inside joke)
Caught up in the fantasy of world of hyper successful couples facing relationship threatening secrets amidst a winter snow storm, I had forgotten to pay much attention to the weather forecast in the real world. But knowing wouldn't have changed anything and might have given me cause to worry. Instead I slept worry free and woke up on Wednesday morning to the sound of pouring rain outside the window. I took a peek outside and it was the kind of rain that flies angrily from the clouds and explodes upon the pavement as if releasing its fury. I was not going to walk in this.
Today was going to call for a little less pride and a little more patience. I asked Twanna to drive me down the road a bit and cut my distance to a manageable 15 miles, just in case the rain didn't let up. She let me off at a McDonalds and continued on to work and I began my waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
The rain didn't want to let up. 10am became 11 and then 12 and then 1pm and I was now sitting in the Subway across the street from the McDonalds, eating lunch and calculating how much more light was left in the day. Finally, the rain let up. Like a baseball player who had waited and waited for the right pitch, I pounced. I threw on my backpack and attacked the road. Leaving at 1:15pm I knew I had just enough time to make it to the Newnan central square by sundown if I didn't take any breaks.
Sure enough, when the sun set behind the western Georgia horizon, I was sitting at a Newnan coffee shop dry as a bone. I wasn't the only one whose day had been complicated by the rain. My host Nathan was a pilot I connected with on Couchsurfing. His flight to Birmingham and back had been delayed over an hour by the weather and I got a text saying that he was on his way back from the Atlanta airport when I arrived in town. When in the course of grilling him about his job later in the evening I asked him about his most difficult flights so far. He considered it and then said, "today ranks right up there." That storm was no joke.
Nathan and another pilot for ASA Airlines share a converted two bedroom loft in what used to be a cotton mill. Picture beautiful brick walls, concrete floors and really high ceilings. Newnan seems to be an enclave ripe with people in the airline business, and the old cotton mill itself seems to be a magnet for ASA (Atlantic Southest Airlines) employees. That worked to my benefit. After my shower Nathan and I and his girlfriend Candice went down to the apartment of another pilot Adam and his wife Nicole. Nicole's parents Mike & Maria were in town. If I were her, I would hope that they never leave. Mike and Maria need their own food channel show. They were bringing out appetizers left and right. Two other friends came down and the party rounded out at eight people.
Mike kept encouraging us all to eat and I, for one, did my best to not let him down. I took a seat right next to the table and watched the calvalcade come in. Shrimp, crab, talapia, salmon ... you name it and I was shoving it into my mouth. Meanwhile I was peppering those assembled, especially Nathan, with questions about being a pilot. I don't know why, but I am fascinated by the profession. Wait, I do know why. It is because I am lightweight scared of flying. So the fact that these folks go into the skies each day like I used to go into the office blows my mind.
How big are the planes that you fly? What's the thing you have to worry most about going wrong? How do you become a captain? What's the best city for a layover? Do you believe those pilots who said they were on their laptops and overshot the airport in Minnesota? Under what circumstances can you leave the cockpit? Yada, yada, yada.
Adam had to come over and put an end to the shop talk, which I admitted was my fault. All in all, I learned a lot about the flight game that evening. And thanks to Adam, I also learned a really inappropriate joke about Michael Jackson that, admittedly, made me laugh. Hopefully I will be a less anxious flier (and a better joke teller) for the experience.
We talked some more and then couple by couple the party gradually dissipated. I wanted to take Mike & Maria with me to be my road cooks, but I don't have much to offer in terms of fringe benefits and accomodations. Luckily they live in Long Island and invited me out if I get a chance. Let me just predict that I will get a chance and leave it at that.
As for Nathan, he couldn't have been a better couchsurfing host. Amazingly, this was his first hosting experience. After my pseudo-psychedelic couchsurfing experience with, coincidentally, another guy named Nathan in Calhoun, this was a welcome return to normality. No bumpy rides this time. Just smooth, clear sailing. Back at his apartment the seatbelt sign was turned off and I fell into a deep, refreshing sleep.
Thanks to Nathan and Twanna for two great nights in western Georgia. Three more nights and I would be in Alabama.