"A Christmas Carol"...with a Twist
Trip Start Sep 20, 2007
150Trip End May 16, 2008
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I was visited by the spirits of ME this past week. It took me until late last night to figure out the purpose of my visit to Charlotte (or more specifically, Fort Mill KOA and John's Place) and talking to all these individuals with various personalities, experiences and thoughts. I've introduced you to the various characters I met on 3 nights at John's Place. Looking back at these individuals and what I found out about them during our brief conversations, I notice a striking similarity to various characteristics I possess and experiences I have had throughout my life. The reference to A Christmas Carol will be tied in to the two final nights I was in John's Place, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Tuesday night I decided I would drop in for just one drink, say Hi, and let Ernie know that...yes...I would be back on Wednesday for Karaoke night. I went in later than the other nights. It was almost 8. Sara is bartending. It's a slow night, so Sara and I get to chat one to one for a while. I was mostly right in my assessment of her the first time we met. She's trying to decide what to do with her life. She's in her early 20's, working until she decides what she wants to do. She would love to be in the music industry, but doesn't play any instruments, nor sing. But what she's really leaning towards is advertising. She's very creative but is also analytically minded. She was born in Indiana and grew up in Missouri. Ernie was there when I arrived, left, then came back later.
Will comes in. He's 60...retired, after working with GM for 30 years...divorced...lived in Ohio all his life...moved to Charlotte about 6 years ago because his 3 daughters live there. We start chatting. We talk about relationships, life, kids, and work. We chat until 11 O'clock. So much for a quick, one drink stopover. As I'm leaving, Patrick, who was there the first night I was in town, walks in with a friend, Bob. I say Hi, ask them if they are planning on coming back for Karaoke night and then I say my goodnights.
Wednesday night. I go to John's Place at 6h30. The music is already blaring. It's a lot louder than the other nights. Ernie is glad I stuck around. I'm supposed to be experiencing life on this Journey, so I have to do things I don't normally do. I order a Corona. I haven't had a beer in over 25 years. I've never found one I like. Sara is bartending as is a new bartender, Theresa. Dora has been fired for drinking on the job. Will walks in a little while later. We chat a while. Tell him I don't normally drink beer, but that I have to experience life. He offers me a cigarette...laughing. I think about it...but decline.The regulars start singing. Ernie is working up the nerve to go sing. He's egging on the other 4 guys at the bar...me, Will and 2 others that I've seen before. Ernie sings his song. A few people come and go. I go through the song catalogue. Pick a couple of songs. The crowd thins out a bit, and those remaining have been there for a while. Guess it's time for me to go up. I sing...or more appropriately, I try singing Kenney Chesney's, There Goes my Life. I get a round of applauses, even after butchering such a nice song. Shortly after a group of 5 or 6 woman walk in...late 30's, early 40's, then 5 or 6 guys. In the group of guys are Patrick and Bob. They sit at the table by the windows where the regulars always congregate after work. The group of woman are sitting at the other end of that group of tables. I wander over there to chat with them. I sit at the end of the tables, facing the group of woman. I was a little off in my assessment of Patrick the first night. He's not a wanderer. He lives and works in Annapolis (oops, I think that's where he said he lived) in construction. His Mom & Dad just bought a row house up the street from the campground. His and Bob's parents have been friends for a long time. Bob's parents have also moved into these row houses. Bob is an Assistant Professor of Geology at Pomona College in California. He's 34, married to a Russian Oceanographer. I found him fascinating. He spends most of his time travelling and doing research and only teaches 1 course per semester. He spends most of that time in the field. Patrick had told him I was from Canada, and he indicates that he'll be in the Rocky Mountains for a couple of weeks next spring/summer. I give him my card and tell him to call me. He gives me his card. He also tells me to contact him during my Journey and he'll direct me to the best places to visit, geologically related. Also to contact him once I get to California. As we're chatting I see an angel. At the other end of the tables is one of the woman from that group. Our eyes meet...she smiles...my heart melts. The girl of my dreams. I'm so engrossed by the conversation with Bob, that going to meet this woman is secondary in my thoughts. Bob and I chat the rest of the night. We are the last to leave the bar at 2 am. I get a great big hug from Sara as I'm leaving.
Now you are probably all wondering where does the "A Christmas Carol" fit into all this. Like I said earlier, this parallel with my experiences this week came to me after I got back to my trailer and I was trying to wind down from the evening. Why did this particular story come to mind? I had a basic understanding of what the story was about but haven't seen it for a while so wasn't sure of the specifics. I had to do some research. It is a bit of a stretch comparing my experiences to the original story, but humour me and follow along. I needed a lead in to the story and when I found the quote...it fit perfectly. The angel I saw has nothing to do with this.
Ernie is the ghost of Marley. Will is ME, as I may/can be in the future. Bob is ME as I should/could have been/could still be. Without Ernie stepping in and becoming my "guardian angel"...of sort...I would have left town before the full understanding of the purpose for this stopover would have come to fruition. I will be brief in this and in that regard I am short changing all of you but the purpose of all this is for me. It should come out in the end in more details as to how this stopover fits into the whole purpose of my Journey. So, Will is the physical embodiment of who I can become. We chatted for a long time these 2 nights, mostly the first. I found it eerie the similarities in his life and mine. It didn't hit me until I thought of a Christmas Carol that he is who I could be when I'm his age if I make certain decisions in the future. He retired at 55 after 30 years with the same employer. If I return to my accounting job with the government I could retire with 30 years of service at 55. I understood where he was coming from in all our conversations because my thoughts were very similar. We had very similar experiences in our lives. Bob is the physical embodiment of who I could have been if I had made different decisions or followed through on certain things. I am hoping to follow up on our conversations when I'm in California. Our brief conversation leads me to believe that we are very similar. He is a scientist creating theories about the formation of the earth and then does research trying to prove or disprove his theories. What? Is! Is my creation of doing something similar but with life. Create theories and then prove or disprove them. With the way my mind works I should have been a scientist.
So I'm in the middle of these 2 "MEs". Stuck between where I was and could continue going, or this person who might actually be the "true me" and the road that I should be following. I have started on the Journey, but when I get back home a decision will have to be made as to which route I take. I am positive and upbeat about things working out in the end. But I do know that by the time I get home the money will be running out. The option of returning to a regular salary and secure position, even in an unfulfilling position, is still there. Do I continue on with the leap of faith or chicken out like so many others before me and so many others who will follow?
I am no longer in northern South Carolina. I am now on the coast in Charleston. I still have to update my blog to fill in the blanks on what I was doing when I wasn't in the bar. I started a "Random Stuff" blog which is what I thought I was going to post first. I experienced so much that I want to write but do not know where to start or stop. I should get to bed as I want to get up early to visit the Air Craft Carrier that's here. I also didn't get much sleep last night.
I indicated I might leave my heart in Charlotte. I do believe that happened. The locals took me in as one of their own. I thoroughly enjoyed the neighborhood. An angel stole my heart. I might have to go back to find it. This place felt like home.