Tuesday, January 1, 2013
We're sitting around a campfire (well, a propane-fed flame licking fake charred wood in a metal pot) at Padre Island National Seashore welcoming in the New Year (2013).
It's windy, so our impromptu party of 12 (plus one dog) gathers leeward, using one of those monster motorhomes as a shield against the blowing sand and wind.
We're having tentative fun. We don't know each other. We're all so different. Some drink tequila, wine, beer; others do Coke or tea. Shy conversations abound, but all seek common ground: Where are you from? Been here before? Where are you going? And, a frequent question tonight, "What is your name again?"
We're all gray-haired, retired, not really able to dance the night away, but, strangely, I feel like I'm in a bar, a college bar. What's your major? Come here often? We're getting to know each other.
We are a community of Winter Texans, escaping the cold and icy climes of Ohio, Michigan, New York. We have a few real Texans, too. We laugh at clean jokes. No off-color ones are told. We're warming up to each other.
And we dust off old stories new friends enjoy hearing. Like the time Howie played a practical joke on Kathy, pretending he was a lecherous Santa; or the time I had breakfast with Keith Richards. Pat broke all hearts with her story about how her Aunt Cat's alzheimer's is winning.
We munch on popcorn, tell more tales. Laugh. Sometimes heartily. That laughter recasts our unfamiliar as familiar.
Soon, we collect our things and it's time to go, to walk back to our RVs. This assortment of strangers are now friends.
Happy New Year.