…someone says to you, “Have I ever told you about my bike wreck in Bora Bora?”
Yep, this sentence was actually uttered to me by a friend on a recent girls’ trip to the Keys. Of course, my answer was, “No, but do tell!” And as she started to recount her story, I found myself in stitches; not only because the story was pretty hilarious, but also because I had an immediate flashback to one of my all-time favorite childhood book series, Pippi Longstocking.
I started to see an odd similarity between my friend and Pippi.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Pippi (at nine years old) lived alone in a huge villa. Her father was a pirate/cannibal king, her mother was an angel and Pippi shared her house with a monkey and a horse. (For those of you who know me well, the fact that I loved these stories as a child shouldn’t surprise you in the least…). She was also incredibly strong, independent and – best of all – she had an amazing talent for telling the truth in the form of humorously strange stories.
So did my friend! And I soon realized that our little trip to the Keys was going to be quite an adventure, not unlike one my childhood hero, Pippi, might have.
All weekend long, I was fascinated by stories of my friend’s worldly travels – how she would throw caution to the wind to find her next escapade: bike wrecks in Bora Bora, working for summers on cruise ships, backpacking in Europe, making friends with other young travelers and sharing train rides and rooms in hostels to save money so the adventure would last longer.
And just when I didn’t think I could be any further amazed by her Longstocking-like stories, we decided to stop for a drink in Key Largo (a brief pit stop on the drive to Key West). When we entered this particular establishment, there were no more than five people in there and before long, one of the locals – a somewhat weather-worn, middle-aged man – starting chatting with us.
During the course of our talk, we learned he was quite the adventurer himself – traveling throughout the US and working in various places for a few months before moving onto the next seasonal town. He was a real-life gypsy or the proverbial, ‘rolling stone who gathered no moss.’
He told us of his many travels but then started reminiscing about time spent in a small, rural town in Alaska in the 90s. But what came next was an unexpected twist! My friend interrupted his story and said, “Did you work for ‘Big Dave’?”
I couldn’t believe it. Turns out, my friend and our newfound gypsy both lived in the very same, tiny little town in Alaska; both worked at the very same restaurant, for the very same boss and realized they lived there within just six months of each other.
All I could do was turn to my friend and say, “Are you flippin’ KIDDING me? Who has this kind of life?!” And all she could say in reply was (in an admittedly dumbfounded way), “I know, right?”
The whole thing just made me smile. I realized that, just as fictional book characters put a little magic into our childhoods, we all have certain friends who do the same thing in our adult lives; and you wonder what life would be like without them (and it’s a question you never want answered).
I remember myself as that 10-year-old ‘adventurer-wannabe’ reading my Pippi Longstocking books, wishing I could be friends with her and wondering what she might be like as an adult. And now, thanks to my friend, I finally know!
The answer is, ’Quirky, but in a good way.’ Actually, I think Pippi would say it best: “I’m a Thing-Finder. And when you’re a Thing-Finder, you don’t have a moment to spare.”