I: Starting a New Story

“I just wish I had hair. I hate being bald.” Our friend and fellow RV’er, rubbed the sides of his head where his white hair bristled, framing his shining bald crown.

“I use to wear a wig.” Shocked, I looked at Jack, a pleasant man in his seventies with a wide toothy smile and bushy, surprisingly dark, eyebrows.

I tried to imagine Jack with hair. Had it been brown, maybe black? I could not picture it, nor imagine this man who drove and operated a forty-foot RV wearing a wig. His confession seemed to betray our friendship. Maybe he still dyed his eyebrows. We had hung out together now for two winters in Naples, Florida and had bonded through our stories - Jack and Linda from Indiana, and my husband and me from Virginia.

Could they imagine me without arthritic hands or my husband with wavy chestnut hair? If they did, it wouldn’t be fair. Surely there is an unspoken rule among traveling seniors about not revealing how we used to look. Regaling antics of the past and adventures we’ve had is permissible, welcomed for sure. Just don’t hint about the looks of another younger time. This would be a stranger’s intrusion when we are trying to create a new familiar.

I have discovered delightful characteristics among our new RV acquaintances, folks mostly retired and sauntering through the season of senior status. They are easy going and friendly, like tail wagging cocker spaniels or kids on a playground, “Hey! Wanna be my friend?” These journeymen have left behind their histories in pursuit of one last story and a new clan to make it the best time of their lives. So they pour real, unabashed, unhindered camaraderie into this life of travel, adventure, and, best of all, new friends.

My favorite gift from these, my new BFFs, are their stories. Everyone of them come from a place other than our neighborhood or even community, they have kids I’ve never met, grandchildren they (the women, mostly) go on and on about, and their lives have had true value, which they themselves seem to discover in humble wonder as they tell the unfolding of their lives. Oh, such rich stories!