Greetings, loved ones! From...Leisure World. I kid you not. I am staying in a place called Leisure World. Never heard of it? Neitther had I, mainly because my grandparents didn't live long enough to settle down in a place like this. But basically it's a massive complex for retirees that looks a little bit like army barracks.
Why am I staying here? Because I have an 84-year-young friend named Mary who A) insisted I come to California to speak at approximately 542 engagements over the course of five days and B) insisted I stay with her while I'm here. She also insisted that she drive me everywhere, which let me tell you has been an *experience.* I may have thought I was going to die at multiple times while driving on I-610 to Claremont.
When we stopped at a gas station on the way (not to get gas but because she ate cheese on her burger and well, it wasn't agreeing with her), I said to our other travel companion that I was terrified, especially when were driving 40 miles per hour when the speed limit was 70. But somehow we have gotten from point A to point B in one piece. So far.
Despite the excitement of highway driving with an elderly person, I am just tickled at how I've gotten to be friends with someone who is in her 80s. My grandparents died relatively young, so it's been awhile since I've gotten to talk to someone who remembers the Depression. And this woman is still kicking ass. She's involved in about every social justice movement you can imagine, and she's completely independent, albeit a scary driver. But, hey, there are scary drivers at every age, right? I'll forgive that one. I can only hope to be as agile and spunky as she is in another 50 years.
I have to say, this is one of my favorite things about my job. I've gotten to know people from so many different places, from so many different backgrounds, and really, they've become more than colleagues--they're actual friends that I get to visit and laugh with. So while I may still be struggling to find a network of folks in NC, I've got a helluva lot of friends all over the country. And that's a pretty awesome thing. It makes being away from Carolina Man just a smidge easier.