It was the Spring of 2004 and I was headed to Chicago to attend the wedding of a family member. I was in college at the time and due to finals week I had to fly out a little later than the rest of my family, so I was flying alone.
I had never been to Chicago previous to this trip, so I was excited about exploring a new city and looking forward to seeing all my uncles and aunts who I had not seen for a while. The trip was to be a relatively short one, as I was sharing a hotel room with my parents and they had to get back to work so they couldn’t stay more than 5 days total. Seeing as though I was a college student at the time, I couldn’t afford to stay any longer either. Still, it would be fun to see a new city.
I boarded my flight from Los Angeles armed with a paperback copy of The Tao of Pooh, which I hadn’t read yet but was interested in. After we had all boarded and the flight attendants had finished with their safety demonstration, I settled in for the flight and cracked my book open, looking forward to the opportunity to relax and read for a while.
“Oh…you have a Winnie the Pooh book!,” I heard a voice from the seat next to me chime in.
“Mmmmhmmm,” I replied.
“I just love Winnie the Pooh. He’s so cute. Oh, my granddaughter loves it too. So I take it you love Winnie the Pooh?” the voice continued. It was clear this lady wasn’t going to give up that easily.
“It’s a book about the Eastern belief system of Taoism, explained through Winnie the Pooh.”
I was hoping the words Eastern belief system and Taoism would put her off, but unfortunately it didn’t, because she went on…”Oh, that’s interesting. So anyway, my granddaughter loves Winnie the Pooh. Last year I bought her a stuffed Pooh toy and she carried it around everywhere with her. She just loved it. She also likes the cartoons. I’m going to visit her, you see. My daughter moved to Chicago last year so I’m going to visit them. My granddaughter is three. Do you have any kids? Oh, of course you don’t. You’re young. Do you have any brothers or sisters? My granddaughter is an only child but I think my daughter wants to have another kid. I just love grand kids. When we’re in Chicago, my daughter is going to take me around and show me around the city. I haven’t been to Chicago before but I’m excited to see it. She says there is a great park near her house where we will be able to go and play with my granddaughter. We’re also going to eat deep dish pizza. My daughter loves that deep dish pizza. I’ve only had it once but I hear it’s better in Chicago. Have you had deep dish pizza? My daughter says she only eats it sometimes because it’s fattening. Oh, my daughter moved to Chicago because she got a job there. She works as a copywriter for the advertising industry. It’s an important job. My daughter has always been so smart. You look young. Are you a student? What are you going to school for? What do you want to do as a job when you get out of school? My daughter always wanted to be a writer but that didn’t make as much money so she went into the advertising industry. She has a really nice house because she made a lot of money. My daughter is good at her job. Can I tell you more about my daughter?”
I sighed and put down my book. Clearly I wouldn’t be reading The Tao of Pooh today.
You can read more by Heather Hopkins on her blog at https://arttraveleatrepeat.com/