Find Your Billy

Greetings from lovely Williamsburg Virginia. The summer has been warm, the birds have been chirping, and rabbits have seemingly overrun my neighborhood.  

Research has been going steady, I have strongly settled into a routine and keep humming along on my work. It has certainly been a challenge to working remote this summer. I have begun to miss the little inconveniences that are usually associated with going into an office. Waking up early, getting dressed, getting caught in traffic, all that comes with a routine of movement, are now supplanted by a sedentary life of rolling out of bed and hopping right into my work.

With the weather being as sunny as it has been, cabin fever has started to creep in and I have started to frequently explore my neighborhood on long evening walks. These expeditions are mostly uneventful, mostly just me decompressing after a day inside, but on one special occasion, I met Billy.

As I was taking my walk around the neighborhood one evening, I saw an older woman sitting on the porch enjoying some iced tea and as I passed by her home, she waved me over. We exchanged some pleasantries and she insisted I join her on the porch to chat for a bit, I could tell she wanted some company, so I naturally sat down. The woman’s name was Billy and she began telling me all sorts of stories about her life, her husband who used to work as a barber in downtown Williamsburg, and her grandkids that I could tell she was immensely proud of. The conversation was fairly one-sided with me just smiling and nodding most of the time, but I was glad to hear it.

Maybe 20 minutes after I sat down, a man walked up with takeout from a local seafood restaurant. Not wanting to intrude, I stood up attempting to say goodbye to let them enjoy their dinner. Seeing that it was late, Billy was not going to let me leave without a meal and she was insistent I come inside to join them. I tried to politely decline but she was adamant and proved to be a master of persuasion.

We had a lovely dinner together, laughing, smiling, and enjoying each other’s company immensely. The man who brought the food was a good friend of Billy’s named Walt. He spent his years as an aviation consultant and he regaled me with his war stories of some thirty years of work, where he has traveled, and of course of his children. After dinner was over, Billy was not done with me yet. I watched as she gathered our plates, walk over to the freezer, and whipped out a tub of ice cream for us. Without even asking, she began to scoop me an immense bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream that I shamelessly stuffed down at her behest. This woman, after essentially pulling a stranger off the street, had treated me to some of the kindest hospitality I ever encountered.

After our dessert I said my goodbyes, thanking Billy and Walt for their company, promising I would return soon, and I meant it. Since our first encounter, I have made frequent visits to see her and we have gradually become close friends. Every time I walk over to say hello, she has never failed to treat me to the same kindness and hospitality of my first visit. She insists once the pandemic begins to clear up, we should go to some of her favorite brunch spots and even go dancing at her favorite place in town. I cannot wait to see her dance moves.

We are surrounded by some of the kindest people imaginable and we rarely slow down enough to ever find out. I firmly believe that there are Billy’s like mine all around us, you just have to look for them. Go out and find your Billy.