When I’m working on a story, at some point I turn to Ben and say “want to hear what I wrote?” This usually happens while we are on the road or just before bedtime. It helps me to read aloud, as I catch errors and notice parts that need to be reworked. He is a better editor than he knows. He’ll make suggestions or remind me of some detail I missed. Today he turned to me after I read him my story and said “I’m not a writer, but if I could this is what I’d write about.
“If I was to write something the way you (Pam) do, I’d probably write about how hard it is to leave a place after staying for a long time. I’ll miss all the people I met. There’s Jim and Barbara the campground hosts, and Paul, the retired Baptist minister who worked as the campground postmaster. Richard, the retried Episcopal minister from Cape Cod, who parked next to us. He and his wife have been coming down here since 1986, but this is their last year. I’ll really miss the little Methodist church too. I really liked pastor Themo and all the people we met there. I’ll miss Steve and Hollie too, but I do know we’ll see them again. All the other people, it’s hard to say if I’ll ever see them again. That’s the hardest part for me. Still, there will be new people down the road. If I was a writer, I could probably tell a story about that.
Ben is fearless. If there is anything remotely interesting about someone, he is off in a flash to talk to them. I don’t just walk up to people to talk to them; I have to have some reason, some karmic force that throws me in their path. That is an unfortunate characteristic for someone who writes about places and people. Ben is my front man, the world’s best icebreaker. Without him, I’d have little to write about. Some of his fearlessness seems to have rubbed off on me as I am getting better about talking to unfamiliar people. For someone like Ben, there is an emotional investment in all these interactions regardless of their length. I have dozens of pictures of him talking to people. I’d have even more if I photographed everyone he talks to, but some people get creeped out by a woman lurking around with a camera. Below is a quick sample. Click on each picture if you like,
Each one is a connection to the places we have been. The photos pull me back into the moment of who we met and what they were about. Thanks to social media and email, we’ve managed to stay connected to many; others are just a part of the photo collection that marks where we’ve been. Someday our relatives will paw through our photo collection and wonder who these people are and what was important about them. It’s their place in our history that’s worth remembering.