"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Observations and Snapshots

Most people enjoy watching other people.  Not in a lecherous or voyeuristic manner but just observationally.   Have you ever sat on a mall or park bench and just watched people?  Sure, we can cast petty judgment on bare midriffs, blue hair and multiple piercings but I'm talking about watching, with great curiosity, behaviors and mannerisms.  We've all seen TV shows and movies where urban dwellers use their stoops as a window to the world.  I was contemplating the vagaries of human nature this morning, oops, I mean watching a couple have an argument from my window when I realized again how unique it is to live in the microcosm that is RV life.  This post is my sharing with you the view from my "stoop."

Yesterday we switched RV spots because our dogs hate cats.  There is a cat that lives behind our previous spot and every evening its owner lets it out to wander freely, very much against park rules.  Thinking it an accidental escapee, we returned the cat several times early on.  Then we actually saw the owner let it out on purpose.  Keep in mind my neurotic, prey-driven, hunting dog absolutely goes BANANAS when he sees a cat.  And this cat clearly is not afraid of barking, frothing, hysterical dogs as it perches itself on my picnic table night after night, all the while calmly watching my dog work himself into a coronary.  Several nights ago Shakespeare nearly went through our screen, which now needs replacing.  We needed to pay for another month yesterday so Donald explained our situation to the management and they agreed to let us move.  My point is this:  the owner can hear our dogs freaking out because she has talked to us about it; she's aware of the situation but why is she unwilling to obey the rules?  I'm dead certain I would get a million complaints if I let my dogs wander around the park, sitting on picnic tables and taunting other animals.  I'm curious about what makes her tick.  She clearly likes rules because we watched her use sidewalk chalk to write 5 MPH in huge letters on the road in front of her RV.  Maybe she just likes to pick and choose which rules to follow.  By the way, she also, along with several other long term residents, waters her own chunk of grass even though there is an in-ground sprinkler system.  Why do they do this?

There is an Italian American stay-at-home dad who literally walks his two year old son every afternoon.  Seriously.  On a leash/harness system.  While I can see the benefit of a harness at a crowded carnival, zoo, or shopping mall I have to wonder if it is really necessary in a quiet RV park.  You should see Shakespeare and Holly watch this bi-ped on a leash.  They really look confused, as if they know that something is familiar but yet Not Quite Right.  Again, I'm curious.  I've met him and he seems like a fairly sweet, quiet boy.  Is he secretly a demon child, prone to climbing every RV ladder in sight?  Is he just a Terrible Two?

In my last post I mentioned Bob, the helicopter pilot who saved us from serious expense with our pickup.  He didn't have to help us; he could have thought to himself, "If they don't know when their engine sounds bad then it's their own dang fault when it implodes!"  It was a true kindness on his part and we are grateful.  When we brought the new/used truck home we had several hours of men wandering over to check it out and give their approval.  Guys we had not met yet wanted to see "the new rig."  This is a small piece of common ground that brings a trailerhood together.

Another RV snapshot is the mid-fifties couple who go for a walk every evening just before sunset.  She pushes him in his wheelchair.  Really, it is very touching.  Why is he in a wheelchair?  Not knowing the answer we assumed it was a long term situation and then, two nights ago, we saw him slowly perambulating on his own.  It took us a second to recognize him without the chair.  Fighting the lump in my throat, I stepped outside to watch a little longer, making sure he was okay.

I love to watch the young, single guy who lives in front of us and down a few spaces and I don't mean that statement the way it sounds.  He owns an older Jaguar that he keeps under cover on all but the nicest days but never drives it.  Why?  What amuses me most is how he does his laundry.  He piles his basket on the front of a skate board and skates it to the laundry room.  How ingenious is that?  I've considered asking Thomas to give it a try but really prefer to not have my unmentionables scattered to the four winds.

Then there is the couple who have a beautiful motorhome with a 10 inch hole drilled in the side so their cat can slide down a plastic tube into an elaborate, multi-storied, outdoor cage.  I truly appreciate them caging their cat but also think they must have no interest in ever selling their RV because who would buy it with a 10 inch hole?  It tells me, without ever having spoken to them, that they are big time cat lovers who spare no expense in their cat's happiness.  I may not agree with the extent of their devotion but I can admire their commitment all the same.

There is another older couple who go to the pool nearly every evening.  I watch them out my kitchen window as I prepare supper.  She is a tiny, glamourous looking older woman who saunters to the pool looking as if she is going to an elegant, poolside cocktail party, complete with Jackie O sunglasses.  He carries his and hers swimming noodles.  Does she get in the water looking like that?  Does she fix herself up like that every morning?  I only hope I look that good when I'm her age.

I watched a family in another section of the park while I was walking Shakespeare one night.  What looked like half a dozen (but was probably only 3-4) very small children swarmed out of a mini van toward a beat up, ancient and rather small motorhome.  A weary looking young mother, who reminded me of the old woman in the shoe, hoisted a baby higher on her hip as a Great Dane named Daisy bounded from the car up to the door of the RV.  How on earth do they all fit in an RV, especially one that has no slides?  Watching them made me exceedingly grateful for our five slide, 40 foot RV in which my children have their own bedroom/bathroom.  I wonder what their story is.

I'll cap off the observations and snapshots by an anecdote about a man who works here in the park.  Apparently he used to live here in an RV but moved into a house some time ago.  He works part time but even when he isn't working he still spends time here.  I've seen him frequently at the pool with a handful of grandkids.  Donald has had several lengthy conversations with him and sums it up like this:  the man has found community here and wherever folk find community they are loath to lose it because as humans, we go where we find a niche.

This is, for now, our fascinating community.  What I really wonder is, do they wonder about me?

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