Oh no. It’s already the end of September and I am forever and a day behind in updating my blog. So much has happened and so much has changed that I can never seem to find the words to explain everything. I suppose it can be called “writer’s block” or “ch-ch-ch-changes”. Either way… I’m back! A “Where Cate’s Been” post is necessary before I can really move forward with “Where’s Cate”… But that will have to be on hold because today I am inspired!
Local life is something I love to participate in wherever I am. When I was traveling abroad I used Couch Surfing to help me with that which connected me to locals who shared their homes and secrets for visiting the city. Now that I am back home in Kansas City, living local is something I continue to do because it makes me happy. Going somewhere alone (or with a friend or few) doesn’t always guarantee a new story or a new acquaintance… But when it does it is so rewarding.
Like my encounter today.
I recently re-connected with my friend, Cameron, who I haven’t seen in about 4 years. (wow, maybe even 6 now that i do that math!) We were acquaintances in middle school and great friends in high school, but college seemed to get the best of us and we lost touch. A couple of weeks ago we decided on meeting at Hi-Hat Coffeehouse to catch up on lost time over a delicious cup of joe.
Little did we know we would also travel through time with Bill and John.
Being as I am easily distracted and I like to watch people walking by, I made eye contact with a smiley old man as he walked past me. The eye contact was just the beginning of a couple hours of story time with Bill. He spoke about his love for Hi-Hat because there are always wonderful people to engage in conversation with and there’s a comfy chair. He also gets to catch up with his good friend George Brett and also Tom Watson when they are wanting coffee, too. Bill told us of the time he was late to tennis practice because friends from the coffee shop invited him to dinner and their huge dogs wouldn’t let him in the door, and his love for a lodge in Nebraska City. The couple with the dogs have a backyard like Versailles, which led him to the story of his experience in the war. When Bill was in France during WWII (in which his division had the most casualties), a grenade went off near him and instead of closing his eyes he opened them which almost made him go blind. The next thing he knew, he woke up in the hospital in Versailles- unable to see. As he was being transported from one location to another, they were driving by the French Open and the driver told him it was too bad he couldn’t see because it was a beautiful stadium (which has since been remodeled). He spoke of the thrones and the garden in the Palace hospital, and his time in Italy and Belgium (which he hasn’t been back to any of those places since the war, but he did take his wife and daughter to Ireland after the loss of their daughter due to melanoma). Bill began the KC Ski Club because of his love to ski, and is still a member even if he can’t ski anymore due to shoulder and knee injuries. He lost his wife 5 years ago and it is clear he still misses her dearly… especially as he spoke of going to Hi-Hat with her. At 89 he still coaches tennis and, in fact, went to the Olympic Trials this last year for table tennis and became the oldest Olympian! This year he hopes to celebrate his 90th birthday at Hi-Hat.. In which Susan Sarandon is rumored to attend… He just wants them to purchase more heaters (because the one he and 20 other people purchased just isn’t going to cut it).
After all of this and teaching him how to use his iPhone, I had a flashback of him teaching ME to play tennis when I was a kid.
Cameron and I are now invited to the table tennis, tennis, and ski clubs of Kansas City. Our Sundays from now on are now booked thanks to an old man’s smile that sparked a conversation.