Paris Goodnight: Traveling with Ryan from Sahalish

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2022

Not long ago, we visited our oldest son out in Seattle where he has set up shop. On the overnight flight back, I met up with a same-row traveling companion named Ryan who was from somewhere out there called Sahalish. Or at least that’s what it sounded like to me.

I had to look up that small town that supposedly was just south of Seattle and came to find out it was likely Salish, which is also the name of the sea beyond Washington state’s borders. That’s also the waterfront where a few years ago the conspiracy theorists ran wild after shoes started washing up on shore with feet still inside. Later, it was determined that the likely cause wasn’t nearly as gruesome as the original stories sounded, but I’ll spare you the details.

Anyway, Ryan had such wonderful stories about plans for an upcoming marriage and travels south to see family in Florida and Alabama before settling down where the Coast Guard was going to let the new young couple call home: Alaska, which really wouldn’t be too far from the folks back outside of Seattle.

The tales of a young traveler sounded like so much fun and reminded me of when I was that age and had not a worry in the world about venturing out to some new locale.

I offered as much wisdom as I could impart from an older (if not much wiser) perspective and we laughed until it was time to fall asleep like most of the other passengers on the long flight to Charlotte.

As I think back now, I’m struck by how rare meetings like that with someone you know you’ll never see again add so much spice to otherwise normal activities and certainly make a long trip go by so much faster.

It also reminds me of how much more fun it is to travel with someone, rather than going by yourself, which I have done plenty of times. You can see plenty of things if you’re doing the solo version, but you can do so many things if you’re with someone who enjoys the adventure as much as you do.

After I had slept for who knows how long on that flight back home, I had to excuse myself but I didn’t want to rouse my seat mate so waited as long as I could before giving a nudge so I could get by. Then it was not long before we landed and I got one last wave goodbye, and that was really when the introduction came since I hadn’t mentioned my name before and she hadn’t either. When she said Ryan, I actually wondered if it might be Riann or something like that since it isn’t a common woman’s name.

Of course, that reminded me too of my younger days when I used to play golf and hang out after work with Andy, who was a new copy editor like I was. I didn’t mention the details to Mrs. Goodnight, but when she showed up at work one day and found I was in the composing room working on pages with “Andi” — who probably spelled with an “I” or some such since it was short for Andrea — there was trouble. 

I only mention this because during the flight, we were all still wearing masks, so I have no real idea what Ryan looks like since all I could see was her eyes. She did resemble what I picture a college track athlete might look like, and that was how I started our conversation by asking her if she was indeed an athlete. That seemed to break the ice and we chatted like old pals from then on. She probably has no memory of that strange fellow she sat with on the way east, but I won’t forget that flight.

Paris Goodnight is interim editor of the Salisbury Post.