Monday, October 20, 2014

Campfire Stories Near Bellevue, Ohio

Sunday, Oct 19th, 9:30pm

Four women stand and watch as I set up my tent. It’s dark, but I’ve got a headlamp, and the tent is a simple one-person backpacker tent, so I’m able to figure it out without fiddling with directions. It looks like I’m the only tent camper tonight. One little ten tucked away between a dozen RVs.

 The women seem rather impressed, and I shamelessly revel in their comments of praise as I assemble my little shelter. But they’re also all mothers, and can’t help but be motherly. Pretty soon I’ve got an extra cushion to sleep on, a blanket, a flashlight, and even an extension cord leading to a little space heater inside my tent.

Before bed, I join a couple of them around a fire and exchange stories. I tell them about how I’m from Arkansas, how I came to Ohio to work on a survey project, and how the project ended early and I’m now headed to another in Iowa. I even tell them about how I was teaching abroad in the Republic of Georgia last year. They, in turn, tell me stories of when they were young and in love. I hear of both love that lasted and love that is no more…and perhaps never really was.

I love these moments. These moments that you could never have predicted.

Just last Wednesday I was on a shopping spree with the other woman from my crew. We spent our per diem like we were less than a week away from another one.

That night, we found out that we weren’t. We were informed that the company was having trouble procuring land owner permission to access all the necessary parcels, so the project would end two weeks early. In four days, we would be jobless.

On Thursday I applied like crazy to other projects.

On Friday, I accepted a position in Iowa. I would have until next Wednesday night to get there.
Friday night we had one last dinner with the whole crew. Our company reps had gifts for all of us, and we laughed as we recalled the inside jokes and memories referenced by each one.

By this (Sunday) afternoon I was in Columbus meeting, in person for the first time, the young woman who had taught in my village in Georgia before me.

 And now here I am, chatting by the fire with a couple of local Ohioans at an RV park.

Sometimes you just don’t know who you’ll run into, what chance encounters you’ll have, what paths will intersect yours. Living an adventure is all about the getting there, I suppose. 

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