I’ve been a resident of The Villages for more than eight years, and you’d think I’d get used to meeting other Villagers who have unique lives or had unusual jobs, but no. It seems every day I’m out and about, and I hear a story that begs to be told.
Sometimes I learn something new about a person I’ve known for years. In talking with a friend, I learned she once raced Corvettes. She also is a descendent of Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame—an interesting story begging to be written. I want to write that story.
I was at a party a couple of years ago and overheard a Villager discussing her college years when she was a Playboy bunny. I wrote that story too.
Sometimes I’m interviewing a person about a specific subject and discover something much more compelling. I interviewed an elderly Villager about her doll collection. What began as a rather simple story about dolls, morphed into a horrific account of living in an Irish orphanage as a young girl, enduring physical and mental abuse from uncaring Catholic nuns. I was honored to share her story.
Several years ago, at one of the recreation centers, I overheard a man with an unusual accent. When we began to chat, I discovered he was from Romania. He grew up in a Communist country where fear was a daily companion, where it wasn’t uncommon for brother to be turned against brother, and properties were confiscated without notice. The story was about a child’s dream of living in freedom, which years later become a reality.
There are more than 120,000 residents living in The Villages, and the numbers increase every week. Each of those residents has a full and interesting life, and I’m like a kid in a candy store. So many stories—so little time to write them.
The next time you’re at one of the town squares or you’re attending a club event, introduce yourself to the man or woman sitting next to you. Ask a question or two and then listen, really listen. The stories may be some of the most intriguing you’ll ever hear.