Friendship, Community, and Airstream Obsession

For this final post about the Airstream-only campground we’ve been visiting for the last ten days in Tennessee, I was going to structure my notes around the core characteristics of friendships according to psychologists (that I’d hastily googled). That’s because we’d hung out with our hosts Sherri and Mooch several times since we first met them in the Florida Keys, but a true test of a new friendship (to me) is inviting ourselves to live across the street from them for ten days, basically imposing on their hospitality for everything we needed.

As soon as I started listing all the things they’d done for us and how much we’ve truly enjoyed spending time with them, I threw out the official psychologists’ lists and just went with my gut instinct, which is that I learned about friendship, yes, but way more, here at TCPC.

Southern-style Hospitality

Here’s an example of how this goes, in case you’re not in the know.

A neighbor here at TCPC walks over to Sherri and Mooch’s with a bag full of green tomatoes from her garden; she’d had to pick them because cold weather was coming on fast. Mooch and my conversation follows:

“Mooch, I want in on those tomatoes, please.”

“Okay, but if I made fried green tomatoes, what would you eat with them? If you could choose anything at all?”

“Well, soft-shelled crabs, to be frank.”

“Done. Come to dinner two nights from now.”

Seriously. He just happened to have a box of crabs a friend had sent him. Another neighbor grabbed a beef tenderloin that Mooch grilled; that neighbor baked delicious, woven bread; Tracy and I brought over a salad; and Sherri set a table for six in front of their trailer, with hanging lights, crystal wine glasses, even place cards on our plates.

Only Sherri could pull this off, all from her Airstream that she and Mooch live full-time in and travel with. No one rushed in cooking or presenting the food; no one cleaned up that night; we all sat for the whole night long having seconds (thirds of the crabs, for me).

We enjoyed the night so much that visitors (the ones we met at the brewery a few days later) had noticed from the street what a great time we were having and even asked, ”Was that crystal on the table?!?” Why yes, it’s Sherri and Mooch’s place, so crystal was on the table and my very favorite food was on our plates.

Watching Out for Us

Part of southern hospitality must be watching out for your guests whether they’re in sight or not. Since my last post about all they’d done for us, Sherri and Mooch have recommended the brewery where I met my cousin (she’d been there, as well); they met us at the brewery we went to with Susan and Alex; they hosted that dinner party; they welcomed us over morning, noon, and night; they checked in with us when we were off-site to make sure we had managed these narrow, mountain roads; and they basically made themselves available for whatever we might need.

Okay, so here’s what I really needed.

A new shower curtain for the trailer, after 1) the glass shower door broke on the way here, 2) it was decided that we might not get it replaced until perhaps May (when we can get back to the Mothership), and 3) the vinyl curtain Tracy bought at the Dollar General wasn’t going to cut it for all that time (in my mind, at least).

I needed something to be as easy-going on the eye as possible in our tiny space, so I ordered a cloth curtain and had it delivered to Sherri’s, and then she aced a true test of friendship.

She pulled out a sewing machine from her amazing stash of handy items and shortened and hemmed the long edge of the curtain so it would fit our narrow shower door, and then she hemmed the bottom edge with pennies inside so it would hang without flapping around during showers.

I say this word a lot, but, seriously?!? What else could they do to show us hospitality?

Imbuing a Love of Airstreams

You guys might be aware that I didn’t even know what an Airstream was until I met Tracy, and slowly, by going to RV shows and Airstream dealerships and then the Airstream factory, I began to appreciate their classic styling, careful crafting, and the overall long-lasting, unique investment that we now call home.

And yet, it wasn’t until I stayed at TCPC that I have become a true Airstream fanatic. I’m ready now to join the Airstream International Club. I’m ready to go to a rally. I’m all in.

The lame analogy I’ve come up with to explain my change in mindset is to ask you to imagine liking a certain dog breed, let’s say corgis. You have a corgi, you like meeting other corgis. Corgis are great.

Then you attend a big-time dog show, and suddenly you’re exposed to the most amazing corgis in the world. They’re all around you. You see beautiful corgis, unusual corgis, the best-in-class corgis. You become friends with corgi owners and you learn how welcoming they are and how eager they are to share in corgi knowledge. Suddenly, you get it: corgis are not just awesome dogs, they’re the very bomb.

I have now drunk the Airstream kool-aid, as TCPC residents only half-joked. And that’s a significant gift Sherri and Mooch and everyone here have given me. Topped only by knowing that these new friends are built to last, just like Airstreams.

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