Sticking Your Neck Out

  

I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them, or touch any one,
or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment—what is this, then?
I do not ask any more delight—I swim in it, as in a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and women, and looking on them,
and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well;
All things please the soul—but these please the soul well.

                                                            WaltWhitman

James Michner once said that “The world is my home,” and the people that I meet and travel with, my family. I have tried to adopt this philosophy and although I wish my family could see and experience what I do when I am away by myself, it helps with missing them and you make some great friends.

Eighteen years ago, my family was invited to the Czech Republic to travel and help create the new 250-mile Czech Greenway that goes from Vienna, Austria to Prague. Towards the end, an American Express rep, Vojtech Sedeck befriended us. Todd got a tick bite (on the tip of his penis, no less, from sitting in the grass on a picnic) and got extremely sick- very high fever , and they thought he had Lyme’s disease. The officials wanted to hold him in Praque in quarantine but the trip was over and we all wanted to go home. Vojtech came to our rescue and was our mediator- got Todd the correct drugs and convinced them to let him go.

Of course, we told Vojtech that if he ever wanted to come to the states, he had a home in PA. He took us up on it, and eighteen years later and maybe a dozen visits later (where he brought his brother and dad), we are fantastically close friends. He has watched my children grow up and been a part of their ongoing lives.  He lived in our home while attending pilot school at the Reading airport, house sat for us while we cycled the 500 mile Erie Canal Trail and even had to manually dig a hole and bury Sierra’s beloved llama, Berrick, whom she rode across the Rocky Mountains, while we cycling.

I tell you this because I was recently in South Africa on assignment and met a guide whom all 5 of us women writers/PR folks appreciated and enjoyed his company- Bruce Nobela. I invited him to the states, to my home, like I often do. It seems like nearly everyone I meet all over the planet, has a dream of coming to America. It is nearly impossible for most- between acquiring the money for a ticket and a visa, let alone getting granted one from the American Embassy is a monumental chore. So I was pretty shocked when Bruce pulled it together and made the arrangements. He is due to arrive in JFK this coming Sunday and will visit for 10 days. He is a cultural and a hunting guide- most unusual for a native black man. I am taking him to the Eastern Sportsman’s Show in Harrisburg so he can network and maybe come back as an exhibitor next year, I’ve made arrangements for him to be the guest on a TV Hunting show in the Poconos, and an informal press conference at my home for outdoor writers.

And of course, I want to show him my life, my world here in Pennsylvania, USA. ..take him snow tubing and who knows what else- there is so much to discover in a new country. If Bruce and I/my family becomes HALF the friends that we have become with our dear friend, Vojtech al these years, he will be a blessing in our lives.

You have to stick your neck out in life- you have to take a chance. Todd asks me all these questions about Bruce- what he is like, what he likes. I tell him I don’t know. I don’t know him that well, but we’ ll find out!  What else is there anyway? But the wonderful, delicious feeling of being in the company of people that we enjoy? And to discover new people. It is a scary/risky thing to do what Bruce is doing and I commend him for it. I think he’ll like us and may just return like Vojtech over and over and become part of the family.

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