Monday, January 9, 2017

Everyone Has a Story

I am 65 years old.  There's no way around that fact, and I'm happy to own it, along with the little aches and pains that go along with it.  But there are some really neat things that also go along with that, and those of you reading this who are far from being 65, well, this may be a happier thought for you.

Our home is in one of those "communities" in the Carolinas that practically cover the entire contiguous shore-adjacent area from southern North Carolina all the way down to coastal Georgia.  They are typically wrapped around a golf course, meaning that even those which are not specifically set aside for people 55 and over are predominantly populated by people whose work life is behind them.

I am not at all retired, but my job allows me to work wherever I feel, and we are where we want to be.  I can work full time and still get out to the course ("courses" actually, my community has four of them) when I feel like it.  We're renting while our house is being built, and insisted on renting inside the community so that we could become part of it -- now.

I also should add that although there are about 3,000 people living here, my best girl and I knew exactly none of them.  Zero.  We moved into a community as total strangers; the closest we came to knowing anyone was a gentleman who had gone through the same fraternity as I at MIT, but who had graduated several years before I joined, and whom I had never met.

You cannot avoid meeting people, and we were actually not trying to avoid them but, rather, to meet them gradually; we were told that you can get overwhelmed quickly.  And that is the interesting discovery that this column is about.

In the short few months we have been here, we have had several times where we had dinner, or a drink, with another couple here and there who lived here, and whom we had only met for a moment some time earlier.  The first time that happened, it was curious -- while we had scheduled maybe a couple hours, we found ourselves still talking four hours later, and feeling like we had not scratched the surface.

That kept happening with couple after couple, no matter how long they had lived here or where they had moved here from.  And it became patently obvious that people our age have stories, and perhaps because we are more receptive, those stories are really, really interesting.  I mean, I will admit that I have had a particularly curious life story (600 essays on line probably attest to that), so it's fun to know that no matter whom we break bread with, I could sit there for hours, silently sipping a Merlot, and be utterly enraptured by the life story of someone I had mostly never met.

We will not get to meet everyone here, and obviously have barely gotten started with the "two-on-two get-togethers" for the people we have crossed paths with.  But something we never thought would be a part of our lives here to look forward to, is now an excitement for us.

This is a remarkable discovery, and I wanted to share it with people younger, or much younger, than we are.  Perhaps we are simply more intrigued than most by the life stories of other people who have lived much of their career already.  But I don't think that's it.  I think that a decent level of maturity teaches us the lesson that we learn -- we build "cubbyholes in our mind" -- from what others have done and the outcomes of their actions, as many as we build from our own stories.

I've shaken hands with a president; I've knocked Lucille Ball over; I've sung at packed baseball stadiums, one time as four people (yep) and started four companies. I've invested and lost everything I own.  I've been declared "black" by one state.  I have four world championships and a hole-in-one.  And I have mentioned none of those things to our new friends, because your story is more interesting to me.

We're going to enjoy this.

Copyright 2017 by Robert Sutton
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