He was about 65, trim and energetic. A talker, but curious—the sort that asked a question and could wait at least two seconds for your answer before he would begin to fill the space with his own story. There was no pause between his story and his next question. The space in his conversation was as tightly packed as the seats on the small airplane on which we sat. He was behind me and across the aisle on a flight from Salt Lake City, and I listened to him talk to the woman beside him. She was from Florida and was about his age.
He took the airplane’s magazine from the seat pocket in front of him and turned to the map. “Now where you from?” he asked. She showed him on the map the location of her home.
He said, “I remember going out to Key West when I was a kid—hitchhiked across the US at 19. . . I was a young guy that needed adventure. . . Tell you what I remember—the orange trees—those oranges with thin skins—a flavor I’ll never forget—like Vermont maple syrup—one of those flavors you never forget . . .They don’t grow peaches do they?—I love peaches—I don’t do with canned ones—they don’t keep—I love peaches. . . My grandma let me eat an entire banana cream pie—only a grandma would let you do that. . . Grew up on a ranch—not a lot of idle hands or idle time—you could eat a whole pie—putting up hay, feeding cattle and horses—I got out of there as soon as possible—got a scholarship and went to college. . . I worked for two corporations—one for 17 years—was vice president—just walked out the door—next one for 11 years—just walked out the door. . . Don’t regret a bit of it. . . Pick up and go.”