Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let me tell you a story...

I love stories. For as long as I can remember, I've loved to hear people's stories and get a little insight into who they are, how they got to where they are today, and where they are going. My favorite game for many years was The Un-Game--basically a story-telling game, and my favorite book as a young girl and teen was The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris VanAlsburg (author of Jumanji), which was not much more than a series of unrelated pictures which I used as story prompts to try to figure out the story behind the picture.

So, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to tell you a story about how incredible life is when it starts to come full circle and you see that you really are on the track that you're supposed to be on...

Growing up, my parents were both teachers and we were blessed with the unique opportunity to travel extensively every summer for 2-3 months. Now, we didn't travel for 2-3 months all at once. We would usually travel for 4-6 weeks, come home briefly, then leave for another 2-3 weeks, return home, and occasionally take a third short trip for a week or so right before school would resume.

It was glorious and I was a teenager before I realized that this is not the norm and not how everyone spends their summers as a child! We traveled in a van and pop-up trailer, my parents, my younger brother and me, and we explored each of the lower 48 states over the course of 10 summers. I grew up dreaming about my "Dream RV"--not a "Dream House" that most kids dream of, and I would spend hours sketching and designing every detail.

My father never knew a stranger and was a man of many interests. When he became interested in something, he jumped in with both feet and immersed himself with his passions. Most notably, he was known for his interest in Harley Davidson motorcycles, as he definitely had the biker persona going for him and spent his retirement hanging out at the local Harley shop. This turned into a part-time gig, since he ended up selling a number of bikes, parts and gear just because everyone thought that he worked there. He called himself the "WalMart greeter of Tri-County Harley". And he was.

However, before he was an unofficial salesman at the Harley shop, he immersed himself for many years as an unofficial salesman-of-sorts at the local RV dealership. He would stop by and hang out with his buddy who owned the dealership in the afternoons after school and on the weekends. He would show campers to customers when the staff was especially busy and also travel to regional RV shows to help with the events. Consequently, I spent many afternoons and weekends at the RV store as well with my Dad. He loved RV life and he loved his friends at the RV shop.

Fast-forward to recent days, and as an adult, I am thrilled that my dream as a little girl of living in an RV is almost coming to fruition. Even better, we now OWN my "Dream RV"! I'd be lying if I said I haven't skipped and danced a few times just thinking about it this past week!

When we found the floor plan that we *knew* was right for us, I could hardly believe that the only one within a drivable distance that was the year, make and model that we were looking for was only available at Couch's Campers, the local RV dealership that I spent so much of my childhood in. (Might I also add that it was only one of two used fifth wheels that Couch's had on the lot at all when we called?!? This was clearly not coincidental!) It was the icing on the cake to be able to do business with a family that I know is the best in the business and will treat us like family.

However, in our initial conversations and dealings over the telephone, I was careful not to say who I was. Maybe I'm a little backwards, but I don't like to be given special treatment due to who I am or who I know. I'm totally not a name-dropper. If anything, I'm the opposite. Like I said, maybe I'm just awkward like that. I like to fade into the background more often than not, but when I go back home, everyone knew "Big Tom" and knows "Mrs. Highley" and it's hard to be just another person in the crowd. I have to say, it was refreshing that we were treated exactly the same when we were just another couple of customers on the phone as we were when we walked into the store and the staff put the pieces together who we were (well, except for a big hug from Mr. Couch, who I haven't seen in the three years since my Dad passed away).

The best part of it all is that we were able to purchase our new "house on wheels" from the very dealership that I grew up spending my weekends as a little girl. I was able to shake the hand of my Dad's good buddy, Jerry Couch, and thank him for his great service.

Stories make up our lives and who we are, and this is absolutely a chapter that will make the final edit of my story. This chapter, 25 years in the the making, of a little girl's dream, not only coming true, but also coming full-circle.

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