An early flight — up at 4:30 to head to the airport. I’m heading to Minneapolis and then Grand Forks, ND. Actually, outside of Grand Forks – I’m heading to the family homestead of one of the photographers. She lives in San Francisco but wanted to be interviewed on her family land because it shapes so much of her work. It’s early and I don’t have the patience to deal with commercial jet travel. I know I’ll need to rally energy at some point. Instead I sleep.
For the first half of the trip.
The second half is a puddle jumper for the 45 minute flight from Minneapolis St. Paul to Grand Forks. I think we taxi longer than we’re actually in the air. I’m squeezed into my window seat next to a very large Texan. I can’t be too irritated by his near-constant manspreading because he’s so damn polite. He puts my suitcase in the overheard bin (and retrieves it at the end of flight). He hands my juice to me and helps retrieve my trash. He was self deprecating. Perhaps that’s his scam?
Seriously he was 6’5” at least 350 lbs. That’s before his huge hat is factored in. Puddle jumper seats barely fit a 10-year-old, let alone a grown-ass 60-something man.
I later learn the soil is the remnants of a glacial lake. North Dakota may be a harsh land, but the soil is black gold.
I do two interviews, including one in a hotel room. The site is not perfect, but the interviewee is a journalist. She adapts to the space.
There are certainly considerations for an oral history interview in this sort of space. But I’ve tried to mitigate the problems as best I can. I booked a suite, to avoid the discomfort of interviewing in a room with a bed front and center. I allow the woman (as always) to set the tone and timber of the interview. We break after two hours, and agree to complete the interview the next morning. I think it works -she doesn’t dodge questions and seems to want to explore her life.