I was at the coffee shop downtown one Saturday morning, addressing postcards inviting friends to an upcoming book signing. I was sitting at a table with my cappuccino, address book, and book of stamps. Minding my own business, in other words. A man approached.
“Who are you?”
I was startled but told him my name.
“Where do you live?”
I was puzzled but I answered in a general fashion as to the neighborhood where I lived.
“You live here?” He seemed surprised. “Where do you go to church? How come none of us know who you are? Everyone in here is wanting to know who you are.” He grinned but in a glance around the room I saw that pretty much everyone had one ear cocked over to our conversation.
I began to feel self-conscious. I stammered and told him that I had lived there for several months, but I worked in Greenwood and went to church in the little community about 10 minutes away, where my parents were members.
A petite blonde flew across the coffee shop, rescuing me. She introduced herself, shook my hand, and said that she worked in Greenwood and would love to get together sometime for lunch and she went to church here in Winona and would I like to come with her sometime. All like that in one long sentence.
I was grateful and relieved. Yes to all, I said and my new friend, Roxanne, and I made plans to get together.
Roxanne was as good as her word. She met me at the church the next morning, walked me into the large two-story house where my wedding reception would be held a few years later. She introduced me to everyone – the men standing on the front porch, the women gathered around the kitchen table drinking coffee, and the Sunday school class. Afterward we walked across the street to the sanctuary, where she introduced me to her neighbors, to her friends, to everyone she saw.
She was the person I could call when I needed to know who the doctor was in town, the best dry cleaner, and how the drop off lane at the elementary school worked. When the outside faucet broke and water gushed underneath the house at nine o'clock on a Sunday night, she sent her husband over to turn off the water main.
We're friends - she works down the street from me, friends and I will help celebrate her birthday this week - and I still admire the way she up and introduced herself to a complete stranger, and took me and The Child under her wing. I knew no one in that town and in less than four years it’s home, thanks to her and people like her.