I've been training for the Donut Run which will take place in April. I feel confident that with the training I've been doing I'll be able to finish with a decent time. When making the hotel reservations, I made sure that they offered a gym room. I have to tell you, I was hoping for good weather so I could run in Louisiana and see the sights. Unfortunately, the forecast was for thunderstorms. So, I ended up on the dread mill instead.
My plan was Friday go to Sacramento (2 hour drive) in the AM then drive to Oakland (2 hour drive)after my work meeting in Sac. Oakland would hop on a plan, land in Dallas (3 hour flight) then drive to Shreveport (3 hour drive). A friend of mine was in a play so I was to attend the play, stay in Shreveport then drive to New Orleans (5 hour drive) to meet with another friend. After NOLA I was to drive back to Dallas (7 hour drive), hop on a plane and land in Oakland (4 hour flight) again before heading back home (3 hour drive). So, in a 3 day time span, 27 of those hours were devoted to being in transit. Seems excessive but so worth it in the end!
I wound up in Shreveport at 5am on Saturday morning. I wasn't super tired but got a nap in before getting up, working on my book, and eating the best gumbo I've ever tasted. After attending my friend's play (Bonnie and Clyde, A New Musical) I went back to my hotel and fell asleep. That night I had a dream that my father in law (who passed away in 2006) was with me in my hotel room and I was telling him how much I missed him and why in the world did he grow a beard?
Sunday morning I got up, and had a nice jaunt on the dread mill before driving down to Mandeville, which is the town across the Ponchartrain from NOLA. I got there about an hour early and spent my time walking down the lake and just taking it all in. After the dread mill it was nice to be out and walking in nature.
I spent a good half an hour just gazing at the lake, it's huge and beautiful. I saw a lot of people running along the lake. Unfortunately, it was more humid than I'm used to and it felt like I was sweating even though I wasn't. I couldn't live here, I wouldn't be able to run outside and this wasn't even a bad day lol.
So, on my way to Dallas, I wanted to drive through NOLA. I ended up not doing so. Now, I'm going to use this qualifier: I am not a Christian. I identify a agnostic, meaning I think there's something out there but I'm not going to put a name on it. I believe in spirits, helpers, energy, etc. I believe that a spirit world runs parallel to our world and that spirits have the option to impact our lives. The unexplainable, I suppose. I could feel energy radiating from NOLA and it felt as though something were chasing me as I drove through the swampland. It was strange. It felt, dark and scary. I started praying that I get to Dallas in one piece. Right outside of Shreveport, I blew a tire and wound up missing my flight. I rebooked and got to my destination just fine. Now, the bad thing about this is that the non stop flight from Dallas to Oakland turned into a flight from Dallas to LA to Oakland.
So, on the flight from LA to Oakland, I got settled into my seat so ready to be home. I got a little excited when it seemed as though no one else was getting on the plane and the seat beside me was still empty. Just when they were going to close the doors, another passenger appeared. He was tall and lanky, older gentleman. He said he was 84 and was named George. What was striking to me is that he looked just like my father in law but had a beard. I saw his hands first that had those bruise-blood splotches older people get when they're on blood thinner medication. They looked like my father in law's hands. As I was talking with him I noticed he had problems hearing, just like my father in law. I tried to tuck my bad arm in and we began a conversation about my accident. I told him that I had stopped breathing after surgery and that I was worried about my future health, etc. He looked me right in the eye and said "Don't worry, you have many years left to live. You have important work to do." I thought that was a strange comment to make. He also told me that he didn't have a ride home because he was originally supposed to land in San Fransisco but had to change flights. I told him that I lived off Hwy 101 and he then told me he lived in a rest home right near there and would I mind taking him in exchange for $20 and dinner. I can never say no to someone in need.
As the flight went on, I started thinking about landing in Oakland and getting some Chipotle on the way home. There isn't a Chipotle near my home so it's a nice treat. About 15 mins before we were to land, he was pondering dinner and said "I want to go to this one place, I can never remember it's name. They serve sustainable food and it's a National chain. YOU know the name, I know you do." so I asked "Chipotle?" and he smiled really big. "Yeah, Chipotay" he said. He started telling me he was a minister and that he was at the Selma march. That he was big on civil rights.
So, I took him to Chipotle and headed over the Richmond bridge to 101. He then started telling me not to worry, that everything would be fine. He told me that I had an inner sweetness that is rare in people (I'm not being conceited, he told me this), and that what I do is important. He told me that I am needed here on earth for a long time. Just really nice things to hear, I guess. You go your whole life and want to feel important and needed. It's rare that anyone actually tells you these things. I pulled up to his rest home and dropped him off. He reached for my hand and kissed it (also something my father in law would have done), told me not to worry that it would all be fine. He told me that if I needed anything to call the rest home and that he would pray for me. He then got out of the car and walked into the rest home.
As I was driving up 101 back home a voice in my head whispered "He's not real". I called the rest home today to ask for him. I wanted to thank him for the companionship and let him know I got home alright. They've never heard of George...