Carolyn’s House, Beaufort, N.C.
May 26, `77
Morning came and with it more rain, not torrential, but consistent. I
decided not to ride in it; instead I found a spot under an overhang
and stuck my thumb out. Around 4 p.m. I was about to give up and go
back to Mikes to rent a room for another night, when Carolyn
approached me. “This is the second time I have passed you by today,”
she said, “You look like you could use a hot meal.” She didn’t live
far away, so I followed her on my bike.
After I arrived at her nice middleclass house, Carolyn introduced me
to her husband, John, a psychologist, her son, Steve, and her teenage
daughter, Lenore. Carolyn was a music teacher. She was in the kitchen
making spaghetti when she told Lenore to take me in the other room and
play something on the piano for me. Lenore was a little embarrassed,
but she did what she was told. We went into the drawing room where I
sat down, and listened to her play a beautiful piece of music. A
friend of the family composed it, and as far as I was concerned it had
the flavor—almost to perfection– of the countryside I had just
bicycled through. Lenore giggled when I told her that because, as she
informed me, the piece was entitled “North Carolina Reflections.”
After Steve had his turn at the piano, all of us were called to dinner.
I was fortunate to run into the Mead family. When Carolyn asked me to
dinner, I had already made up my mind to stay at Mike’s Hotel, and it
would have been easy for me to excuse myself, but
uncharacteristically, I agreed to go with her. I remained “centered”
the whole time I was there which means I did not let myself fall
victim to expectations, familiar or otherwise. I did not become
anxious. I did not feel out of place. At dinner, John asked me what I
did for a living and I told him I was a custodian at a university.
Steve spoke up and said, “What’s a custodian?” I told him a custodian
was just another name for the janitor who cleans the floors at his
school. Everyone at the table except Steve felt the embarrassment. It
wasn’t a big deal for me, though. I just let it go. I didn’t even feel the need
to talk about my university studies.
When I left to go back to Mike’s Hotel, I felt high. I was pleased
with myself for not getting caught up in the judgment and evaluation
game. In fact, it was especially gratifying because the Mead’s were
the classic “name dropping” family. I wasn’t sure if they were vying
for status for themselves, or for North Carolina, though. When I
settled back in old #7 (my room), with a beer and a bag of potato
chips, I was still high. That night, I watched another good TV movie.