Sunday, June 3, 2012
A New Friend
Stick with me, dear reader, through this semi-long story about meeting my new friend...it involves some pre-explanation...
Picture a plot of land. No house. An old out-building made out of wood that is falling down. A creek. Oh---in Bethpage. Just a mile or so from my house. Where I saw the gigunda bobcat a while back. Do you have the image in your head? Keep it there.
This land happens to be "on the way" to both my house that's not my house any more as well as that house that is somewhat mine now. Remember, if it is "on the way" to my house, then when I leave my house, it is then "on the way" to wherever it is that I'm going. I've lived so that this "on the way" place has been "on the way" for twenty-some years. You can do the math...it equals out to this: I've driven past this plot of land a google-trazillion times.
Here's the thing, though. I notice it *every* time I drive past it. Why? Perhaps because it is somewhat of an oddity, and therefore is somewhat mysterious. Perhaps because it is beautiful? Perhaps because it makes my imagination work. Perhaps it is a mixture of all of the above. Yes, I'll go with that. Bubble in "choice D" for me, please.
Now, let me tell you what this plot of land looks like in-real-life....and it does follow the description I've given you...BUT...I'll bet you had this image of a weedy, tree-covered area of barren-ness, much like a lot of uninhabited land here in TN...am I right? Well, you, dear reader, are wrong. This plot of land is like a little slice of heaven. *Every* time I see it, even all these years later, I still say a prayer of thanks for that beautiful, green, lovely spot of land and the man who owns it. Yeah, I know it's a man. I will say he is quite a bit older than what I had pictured in my mind, but after talking to him, I'm not surprised that at his age he does all that he does. What is that, you ask. What does he do? (More about that man coming up...) He comes to this spot of land *every* Sunday. I mean EVERY Sunday. He loads his lawnmower up on his way-old truck...can't even fathom a guess on the age of the truck...and he comes to Bethpage. He mows that plot of land, weeds it, picks up any branches from the trees that might have fallen, and then he sits back and enjoys it. This piece of land is the prettiest color of green I've ever seen. It should be called "God's Green" if it were to be replicated for a Crayola box. It is pristine. It is shady. It is inviting (and remember, there's not even a house). It makes me think of the word "soft". It makes me want to walk barefoot on it, all over it. I imagine the house I would like to build there, and how it would match the inviting feeling, and it would complete this land that is near-perfect anyways. The out-building, though appearing to be somewhat dilapidated, I could almost assure you is in mint "sturdiness" condition. The creek? It's clean. No weeds, no trash, no underbrush or overgrowth...just a stream milling its way through the perfect yard where the unperfect thing is that there is not a house for me to live in so that my feet could enjoy that "God's Green" grass every day. I think the other thing that makes this land so beautiful is that it is simple. There is no driveway. There is no house, no porch, no stepping stones, no lights, nothing to "junk up" the land. Soooo....the house may be an ix-nay after all.
Why has this land drawn my attention? We'll start with the "oddity" I mentioned above. Where do you see a spot of mowed grass that doesn't have a house on it, that is kept tidy-clean all year round? You don't...or at least I haven't. The mysteriousness of it...what's the story? How did this man come upon this land, and why is it so important to him? Does this man go about everything in his life as he has went about tending this spot of land? So many questions. Definitely, this land has drawn my attention because of its beauty; we've already established that. Does it make my imagination go into overdrive? EVERY TIME. Who is this man? What is his story? Is he alone? Is he lonely? Why is there no house there, and why is it so important to him to keep this plot in such pristine condition, when he is only there to enjoy it for a few hours after his work is done each Sunday afternoon? How would my life be different if I could put a little house there, built the way I want, with nooks and crannies and Abby-ized? I can see the kids enjoying the creek, enjoying the yard. I can see a tire swing hanging from the shade tree. I can see it so much I can almost *feel* it. Weird, I know.
I've always thought this man should know that someone out there besides him enjoys the fruits of his labors. (Perhaps, just in case he is lonely. I just can't stand the thought of a lonely person. OK, you probably know where this is going to end up. After all, it doesn't take rocket science if you know me at all...you can predict what happens. :)
Today, as I drove past the land as I was "on my way" to wherever I was going, I saw the man, and I thought that I should stop and tell him I love his land. Probably, that would be weird, and I shouldn't just walk up and be like, "Dude. I love your land." LOL. But, I thought about it while I was "on my way". After that, it quickly left my mind (and if you know me at all, you know that is the norm...things quickly leaving my mind, that is). As I was on my way home, there was just some reason it was nagging at me that I should pull over and tell this man that I love his land...yes, in different words, with a bit more tact, which I am normally lacking. Soooo...I was pleased to see that his truck was still there, meaning *he* was still there...so I slowed down, and I was looking for him, but I couldn't see him anywhere. As I was almost out of sight, I saw his head raise up out of the back of his truck. I decided that if I didn't do it now, I most likely never would, so I just turned around and went back. Stopped on the side of the road. Waved at the man, and said in my best Abby-Voice: Hi!!!! The man was quite a distance away, and so I had to yell at him: I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING!!!!! And he got up, put his shirt on (what a gentleman) and ambled over to me. (He''s definitely hard of hearing.) So, I said again to him: "This might be a bit strange but I stopped because I have something to tell you." He kind of cocked his head at me as if to say, "And what is that???" So I stammered on: "I enjoy your land...er...when I drive past, I love to enjoy the beauty, the outcome of all the hard work you do to keep it beautiful when you are here on Sundays...and I thought you should know that someone enjoys what you do." The smile just kept getting bigger and bigger as I stammered on and on, until my brain said, "Shut up, Abby...you've said enough." And so then I quit yammering on and on. And I couldn't really tell you how it happened or what all was said, but the next thing I knew, an hour and fifteen minutes had lapsed, seeming like just five minutes. We learned a lot about each other...I learned that he worked for UPS, had never been married, and was not "lonely" when he was alone. I learned that he enjoys trading stocks and bonds, and he has stock in Facebook, among others. I learned that on Thursday nights, he eats at a local resteraunt because a certain waitress is there that night, and he enjoys leaving her a tip, and she hugs him every time that he comes in. (Everyone needs hugs, right!?!?!) He learned that I have two high-school graduates, and listened intently while I described my three children. I learned that he has no idea how to cook, and keeps a few cans of peaches around in case he gets hungry while he watches Jay Leno (even though he is vulgar, he added). I learned he goes to mass every Saturday night, never misses, and doesn't know why he chose Catholisism as his religious preference, but he attends regularly. After mass, there is a family that expects him to be by to visit and eat dinner, and if he were to not show up, well, they would think the world had ended, just as I would if a Sunday went by when I didn't see him on that slice of Heaven. He is an avid sports nut, and extremely smart, and he really seemed to me in so many ways like a "Forrest Gump". Several times I thought that. It was his voice, but also the things he said. I can't explain. Just trust me. And so a friendship was born tonight, because I stopped to tell a strange man in the middle of nowhere that I thought his land was beautiful. If the right people were to read this, I'm sure that I would be reprimanded for stopping to tell a strange man anything....but for some reason, I just *had* to do it. And while I don't think he is LONELY when alone, I think he was pleasantly surprised to have made a new friend. I promised him upcoming visits, and I mean to keep my promise. I believe we have a lot to talk about and learn from each other...and I want him to meet my kids, and for my kids to meet him, because I just really feel like he is special, even though I can't explain why.
I'm sure I'll have many more "Mon-roe" stories to tell in the future. And...that's MON-roe with the emphasis on the MON. Just like some people say "Mack-Donalds"...he is "MON-roe".
And that is a true story of how a friendship was born, all from a simple act of kindness on my part and a lot of years of hard work on his. At a later date, I will tell you another reason why I am in awe of this land and this man, but not tonight, because I've probably already put you to sleep with my rambling!
PS...I tried to post a photo, because we all know that I think that no blog post is a blog post if there is not a picture to go with it, but blogger was NOT having it, so here is my extra-long post with no photo.