threatening to dampen our bike ride back home.
Today, "home" is Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Florida's
northwestern panhandle. Our luncheon is at Grayton Beach State Park,
about eight miles away, with 30 or so "friends" from an Internet-based
social group of people who own the same kind of motor home we do (the
Winnebago Navion or View).
It's my husband, not me, who has befriended these people on the
Internet. He recognizes names and is happy to put faces with them. I
do a lot of smiling and nodding. I know nobody.
The weather forecast calls for a downpour tonight. Apparently, tonight
gave way to this afternoon by the looks of the sky. So we know we
have to skedaddle.
We make one more pass over the buffet table (I grab what looks like a
cherry oatmeal bar, a small one) and head for the bikes, which are
leaning up against small palm and pine trees. We have one raincoat
between us, so we decide to wrap our cameras and extra shirts in it to
keep them dry, if the rain comes.
I tarry momentarily to scan the crowd and realize, they remain
mostly strangers. Perhaps, in time, I will get to know them, but not
today. My unfamiliarity translates into awkwardness as I say good-bye.
Who am I talking to?
As I pedal away, I hear a few tentative farewells. I'm not feeling
loved here (well, that's a bit strong. I'm not feeling, um, familiar?).
We pedal up the road, and I stop abruptly to snap a picture of a
beautiful landscape. As I walk back down the
road to catch the scene, I snap a picture of the group I just left.
That's posted above. Do you see what I see? Can it be so? Is there
someone watching me, waving wildly to say good-bye? YES!
I smile. I feel I have a new friend. I have arrived. Someone went out
of her way to show me she cared. Tomorrow, I'll sit next to the waving
woman at lunch. And ask her her name. And call her my friend.