It’s our last night in the United States before crossing into Canada and the Thousand Islands region. We’ve just arrived back at camp after visiting the Antique Boat Museum and getting more chips and salsa (because you can never have enough chips and salsa). We’re starting to cook chicken fajitas when I see our camping neighbor walking toward our campsite with a handful of green bottles. It is our friend Chris, but we don't know him yet.
The previous day while arriving and setting up camp, I saw a man walking to the back of his pickup truck in the site next to ours. He pulled out a few things to get to his cooler including a box of Rolling Rock beer. I casually yelled out “good taste in beer”. He replied “I got a cooler full of them. I’ll bring some over before I leave.” Me saying things to our camping neighbors is quite common. I am frequently finding an excuse to share a quick comment around new people. It might be as simple as “pretty awesome here, huh?” or “that’s a nice looking kayak, enjoying it?”. I hope that my small comment is perceived as “hello, neighbor”, “I’m a friendly neighbor”, and “I’d love to chat more”. It just feels weird to me staying right next to someone without saying anything. Saying something small puts me at ease and also hopefully puts my neighbor at ease as well. And maybe it will turn into a longer conversation or make it easier to start a future conversation. Like if they need to ask me to quiet down if I’m being too noisy. Or are looking to share a beer and conversation with someone new.
And so that’s how we find ourselves talking with Chris over a few bottles of cold Rolling Rock. We learn Chris is on a fishing trip with friends, a trip they’ve been taking together for years. We share details of our trip. We chat and this and that, where we were from, trips we had taken, and stories along the way. We probably won’t ever see Chris again but he was a great friend for about an hour and a bottle of beer. And we might see Chris again someday a thousand miles away or he might become our new camping buddy. Because that's how serendipity works.
So next time you see me out there feel free to say hi. We’re friends, after all. You just don’t know it yet.
See you out there,