Location: A nice neighborhood on the Oregon Coast
A small bar that's intimate and cozy, with sturdy wood tables & soft lighting.
Its' quite busy inside with a hip staff and array of customers. A young couple from Austin Texas stop in for a drink. The man chooses a mean old fashioned and the woman, a fizzy ginger cocktail. They sit cozily in the back of the bar.
Suddenly a middle-aged man walks in and approaches the couple.
"Mind if I sit here?" He asks them, pointing to a nearby chair.
"Sure, please do!"
He's comfortable, like he's been there before. The woman helps him connect his phone to WiFi. "I'm not good at this sort of thing, technology..." he tells her. "Where are you guys from?"
"Austin," says the young man. "And you?"
"Oh yeah, Austin's great," a phrase the couple has heard many times on their long road trip. The stranger's eyes turn bright and he begins to tell them his story.
"Well, I'm from the East Coast originally. Was a professional snow border in the 1980s. Moved down here 25 years ago. You know, you can ski down Mt. Hood right now. It's got snow."
He takes a sip of his stiff cocktail, very possibly his fourth due to his slurred speech. He waves his arm wildly and points South.
"My home is just down the road, walked here in fact. It's HUGE, got four bedrooms." He continues without a pause. "Got an amazing wife, a career woman, she makes a lot of money but she travels a lot, a kid, and a dog." He points to a picture on his phone. "That's our kid." He smiles. There's a tinge of sadness mixed in with his smile as he mentions his family. It feels honest and true.
"These days I work as a carpenter. You know, after my injury my sports career was over. And so it's nice to have an active job, working with my hands outside in the sun."
He shares stories of his high-profile customers and of all the places he's traveled to over time, especially while competing. He's been EVERYWHERE. He's seen a lot, and they have a feeling he's been through a lot too.
The man is quite funny and has everyone laughing hysterically. By the end of the night the couple has an offer to stay at his place, although they graciously decline.
The woman wonders what this man is all about. He seems to have it all but is he happy? He sure doesn't seem happy. There's something missing alright and he's searching for it.
As the couple gathers their belongings, ready to say their goodbyes, a mother and daughter sitting next to them smile warmly. The mother tells the couple she too had traveled for a year when she was in her twenties. Her face lights up as she remembers her past adventures. Her daughter is just as friendly. "I love Austin. I hope to live there one day," she tells the couple.
"Yes, it's a GREAT town."