Sunday, February 17, 2008
I've been thinking about a tv show that was (is?) (is!) running in the U.S.
Steve Hartman throws a dart into a map, drives to that area, pulls out a phone book and randomly picks a name. If that person selected doesn't think he's a total whacko and agrees to meet with him, the show highlights their life. A great concept-- and it must be doing pretty well since Jan. 30th will be the 100th story.
I have met some really interesting people in my travels as an Air Force wife and I think it's a shame more people don't get the same opportunity. So this is my new Sunday theme (until I give it up and do another one). I have several people already in mind, but I am going to take you back to the time BEFORE I was married, before my life was turned upside down by a relocation every two years.
I'm introducing John. And yes, that is his real name because the odds of this particular John actually reading this blog are slim to none. Besides, there aren't pictures.
John loved life. He loved nature. He loved camping, hiking, backpacking, white water rafting, etc. and his dented, baby blue Ford Pick up truck always had any needed gear readily available. His truck was prepared for him to live in permanently if ever the need arose.
He would be considered a loner, but I can't pinpoint a time that he didn't have a girlfriend. And I sat down with him and several of his past relationships-- all nice women that had a fondness (albeit "moved-on" attitude) for him still.
Since my memory stinks, I can't remember if his father or mother were still alive, but I do know that his family was never close by. I attended a reunion of some sort, but I think he only attended it out of some kind of obligation. He had no commitments, no ties.
He introduced me to some terrific hikes (had me sleeping in a sandstone overhang covered in spider webs once) and supplied me with the knowledge to camp on my own-- I didn't need a big strong man to gather wood and build me a fire after dating John.
And yes, this is an old boyfriend. Things didn't work out for a number of reasons, but you know how there are regrets lingering from past relationships? I have none from this one. I don't remember the relationship with the fuzzy fondness of a faded memory, I remember his jealousy, possessiveness and my ....well, my ability to be me, very well. But I learned a tremendous lesson from this relationship and that was to step outside of myself more often and see what is around me.
John never met a stranger. He would talk to anybody.
Now my nature is to rattle about random thoughts racing through my head (gee, you think?), but his style almost bordered on confrontational-- or so I felt at the time.
I will NOT ask someone questions (most of the time) because I feel that if they wanted me to know, they'd tell me. But not John.
I remember one hike in the desert we came upon a hiker couple, the first people we had seen in days. Usually on a trail, you pass and mumble something about the sunshine, but he stepped into their path and said hello and then bombarded them with questions. They hesitated at first, but then enjoyed sharing what brought them to that area. I stood there watching the whole interchange in awe.
People like talking about themselves!
Slowly, in the 15 or so years since that relationship, I have learned to leave my comfort zone behind and to ask people I meet to tell me a little about what shaped them into the person they are today.
I am really comfortable in my comfort zone. My style is still very far from John's.
Him: (noticing you've stepped back) So, why do you think it agitates you when someone stands so close?
Me: (noticing you've stepped back) Want to go get a coke?
Him: What made you decide he was the one you'd give up your dreams for?
Me: Did you have a summer wedding?
Him: Hey, those are great boots, did they take you long to break in? Did you use moleskin with your first wear? How many times have you hiked in the water with them?
Me: Great sunny day, isn't it!
All right, I haven't mastered it. But in the small amount of time I have lived here, I have met some people that wouldn't catch your eye on the High Street, but do they have a story or two to tell! And I am listening....