In my last Blog post I talked about how lucky I was to live on a walking path and watch the world go by me during this time that I feel I am under house arrest. As the quarantine continues and I am longing for human face-to-face interaction vs. virtual and zoom (but thank goodness for those outlets), I decided to go one step further and not just wave and say Hello but engage in a conversation with anyone who was willing to stop for a few minutes.
Most people were also willing.
So, it goes something like this.
“Hi, do you have time to talk for a few minutes?” They laugh and say something like, “I have nothing but time these days.”
I usually don’t ask anyone who has ear plugs and many do, or if they are walking in pairs and engaged in their own conversation.
I am sitting in a lawn chair about 20 feet from the path with my notebook on my lap and pencil poised.
I explain that I am a writer and should be using this time to start a new book, but my focus and attention span seems challenged these days so I am writing short pieces like my blog. Kinda like a marathon runner going out for a short daily jog just to stay in shape.
I ask how long they have lived in Sun Lakes and where they lived before they came here or where they grew up. Oh my, that opened Pandora’s box and a series of amazing co-incidences
that proves once again how “It’s a Small World” after All. Ooops…sorry for putting that song in your head.
The first day I met Nancy who grew up less than 5 miles from my childhood home in Gary, Indiana. Really! The only reason we did not go to the same high school was because she lived on one side of the tracks and I lived on the other side. The tracks were the dividing school boundary. (Just for the record, I was on the wrongside—mainly blue collar workers from US Steel. Nancy lived in the part of town where most of the doctors and lawyers lived.)
But the more we talked , we realized we frequented the same haunts. Like the Tivoli Tap pizza Parlor on 5thAvenue in her neighborhood. My girlfriends and I went there because we knew the guys from Horace Mann High School were cuter than the guys at our own high school. It was truly a Happy Days place with a juke box blaring out Rock Around the Clock and Elvis.
Nancy came to my side of the tracks (Tolleston) for the best ice-cream in town at the Dairy Maid, packed on a summer night. We attended the same big band summer dances at the Pavillion on the shores of Lake Michigan, shopped for prom dresses at the same stores on Broadway. Oh my, we talked a very long time.
Another question I often ask is “What kept you busy before your were house bound or what do you do to stay busy now, besides walking.”
I met Vicki who is a flutist and plays with the Tempe Woodwind Orchestra. Spring concert is cancelled but I’ll be going to her next concert which is hopefully this fall. Found out that Vicki is from Cleveland and while we were talking another lady walked by and heard Vicki mention something about Ohio and she stopped and they discovered they were both from the same area of Cleveland. They talked for quite a while about their old neighborhood haunts.
Then it gets even crazier. Met a man from Clairton , Pennsyvlania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, which just happens to be where I spent many summers visiting my father’s relatives who owned the Clairton Bakery. He knew it well.
A side-note: My father’s Aunt Victoria in Clairton was the one who arranged the marriage between my father and mother in 1933. The story goes that they were put in a room for ten minutes to get acquainted and both agreed. I call it the first instance of speed-dating but I’ll save that story for another blog.
And while we were talking about Clairton, another lady walked by and heard us—she stopped in her tracks to say she was from the same area. I am not making this up—truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
And so many interesting occupations either currently or in their past lives. Met Lisa from Battle Creek, Michigan whose husband is a still a referee for Big 10 football. Cloe, an artisit, who spends her time doing art projects; an archeologist from Wisconsin whose name I forgot to jot down. He spends summers there and still works; Rose who was Dean of Nursing at Grand Canyon University; Bobbie from Baltimore who happens to be the Program Chair for the Adventures in Learning Program here in Sun Lakes, a program I had intended to find out more about. They are always looking for speakers so I volunteered to do one on how I got my first book published.
And there’s Janet who has a business of measuring bra-fittings for women. I said I’d like to be fitted when this isolation is all over. She said I would not have to wait…we can do it virtually (really???) and we have an appointment set for tomorrow. I’ll get back to you on that one.
And books. Of course ,I have to talk books. I ask if they like to read and what are they reading, and when I tell them I’m doing this blog because I can’t seem to get going on my next book, they ask what do I write and can they get my books on Amazon…and I say, actually you can get them right now from me…have many in my garage….cheaper than Amazon, no shipping and with an autograph. I say, the book is free, the autograph is $10.00. J
In two days, I sold six books which was not my intention at all but such a fun bonus of my “man (woman) on the street” interviews. They have no money with them, but I trust they will return and they do. The other day I opened the notebook I had left out on my chair and an envelope with a thank you note and $10 was enclosed. So who needs brick and mortar to sell books? Not Amazon and I guess not me either.
So I’m selling books and I’m buying bras…and I’m making a lot of new friends. When this plague is over, I’m having a “real” patio party and inviting all of my new walker friends. We can see each other up close and share our stories of how we survived, supported one another and came out stronger. And isn’t that what community is all about?