Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kindly Strangers

Katie and Travis were harvesting Thanksgiving turkeys today. A bunch of their friends helped out, but still the job kept them busy from dawn until late afternoon. Whew. Honey and I had lots of time to kill.

We went out for breakfast, something we love to do together. There's only one restaurant in Perryville, and people greet Honey and me by name when we go there. I honestly can't understand the conversations at other tables - when people are talking to each other and not to me - because of their extremely thick accents, and because they're all as familiar with each other as puppies from the same litter. They leave out the half of each story that everybody else already knows and refer knowingly to offstage people and events. I am a complete outsider. But people are very friendly and kind. They never fail to greet me, wish me a good day, and to make tender contact with Honey. Their kindness draws me back there every time I'm in Perryville.

After our breakfast and our dose of local color, Honey and I went to the laundromat. She loved helping put wet clothes into the dryer and then later taking them out dry, and oh yeah, she loved pushing the carts back and forth. I wish you could hear the happy "Hunnnhhhh" sound she made while pushing around the empty baskets. She would have whistled if she knew how.

We also went to a car wash (whoooeee), an ATM machine (not so much fun), and a grocery store (lots of people to charm). When we got back home, we spent a very happy time listening to the wind, swinging in the swing, barking at the dogs, exploring the back of my station wagon, and watching leaves fall from the trees.

I love spending time with Honey, and with Katie and her friends.

And I also really long for some friends my own age.

We are meeting lots of local people - in our neighborhood, in our office building, at the Buddhist center, at the farmer's market, and oh yes, at the restaurant in Perryville. But its a challenge turning kindly strangers into real friends. I think I will need to cultivate an upbeat, open-for-anything attitude like Honey has. People seem to find it irresistible.

Meanwhile, I'm really grateful for the genuine warmth that is so common in this Southern culture. I'm cultivating that, too.

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