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Day 54 - Around the World in Three Hours

It was never my intention to take 100 Connections on the road this early. Maybe for a second round, but not during this initial project. The world thought otherwise and so I began this morning thinking about what I would do and who I would meet. Staying at a friend's home in Spartanburg, SC has given me plenty of time to think and strategize and then it hit me. When an appointment cancels in Charleston I ask people who I should meet before randomly going out. It helps me find a more diverse group of people and keeps me out of my comfort zone. My friend Rich is from the Hub City, so I enlisted him as part of the team and asked him; who should I meet? Rich left for work and I sat wondering who I would be meeting later.

When he returned home we made some coffee and headed down the road to make a connection.

David Riding's porch is a welcoming sight, with three rocking chairs and a small table, it is three brick steps to an afternoon of stories and chit chat. On the wall of his home, by the front door proudly hangs the crest of the United States Marine Corps. In a chair sits David, an old man now only in appearance, his heart still very young. Baby, his 1 year old dog, sits across his shoulders as he rocks back and forth joking that she believes she is half parrot. He tells us we always have a seat on his porch in the first 30 seconds of our arrival. I like David immediately.

Ignore the potential for property damage a hurricane could bring, the real stress of an evacuation is often being suddenly pulled away from your home. To many, like me, it is an adventure, to others it is an incredible amount of stress. In either case, once you are on David's porch you are in a place of solace. It's a place where we share stories, where time seems to slow down so you can fit more into each passing minute. I sip my coffee and exchange stories, sometime one for one and other times lacking anything resembling balance, with David. He has a wealth of them. Add to the mix my buddy Rich on the porch chatting with us, and you have three men who very well may have seen the entire world.

Our stories are reflections of that. Tales of revelry and youthful stupidity mingle with tales of love and loss, adventure and legitimate danger. We talk of triumph, we talk of heartbreak. David is a widower. Some people couldn't imagine anything more sad, but he has seen so much of the world he is okay. Death is a part of life, and the planet spins only forward. We try to forget that as we share stories of Germany, Egypt, Spain, the Middle East, Turkmenistan and so many distant shores and skies. We talk of women and drink. We don't talk of war, we've both seen it, there are no stories we need to share.

David is generous. He speaks freely. He shares his laugh and his jokes. Time is the most valuable resource any us have and he gives that freely as well. Over three hours we tour space and time with our stories and we watch the sky in Spartanburg turn grey, the sun start to lower and the winds pick up. It's his generosity, his free spirit, that most impress me about David. I am no a stranger, not even for a moment. I always have a seat on his porch.

David waves to every car that drives by his home. Every single one. There's a seat and a story for all of them.

For a few hours I got lost in a whirlwind of stories, catching up with an old friend and making a new one. As the hours pass and we all get a little hungry, it becomes time to move on for the evening. We could go on forever. I imagine this gathering could share stories until the end of time, and all of the participants would be happy.

We say goodbye with a handshake, David has a strong grip and looks you in the eye. It's not intimidation, it's respect. He wants you to know that he is there, that he sees you and that this time is yours. David wants you to know that you have a seat, it will only cost you some time and a couple of stories.

He has some for you too.

Favorite Animanl: Baby, his dog.

Why: If you could see this animal around his shoulders you would completely understand,

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