Monthly Archives: February 2017

Conversations with myself

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When I’m not talking, I am thinking.  Not always a good balance of time interspersed with sleeping, listening and driving and other things that fill a day.  Waking up this morning, after a few days of time away was a struggle.  It wasn’t that I didn’t get rest or sleep.  I wasn’t in the mood to begin my week.  It’s kind of a rare occurrence because I really do like what I do but I just wasn’t feeling it (as people, who I don’t know well, but think about, say).  I believe there is a phenomenon called the Monday morning blues that sometimes strikes, that essentially says….the week ahead seems about one month long. It didn’t have anything to do with the Oscars last night since it’s never that serious, until last night, when it was just weird.

The morning started the usual way, which means on my way to the elevator, I do a flight check in the hall to make sure I have my coffee, my bag (which really contains nothing I look at or need during the day, but you never know), my lunch and my phone, and that I am wearing a pair of shoes that match one another.  This morning, as I was halfway in a sprint, I imagined, correctly, that my phone was on the nightstand.  It was not my imagination, it was my reality.  I felt like Charlie Brown after Lucy moves the football.  It was an “Aaugh!” moment.  I went back to retrieve it.  I missed the elevator which is not like missing a train, but sometimes feels like it might have been the last one. I could walk down the stairs but I was not in the mood.  I waited and waited and finally it pulled into the station.  It was a local and stopped at every floor.  My instincts were correct.  Not going to be anything but a Monday.  All of these thoughts occurred as I smiled at neighbors, welcomed them onto the elevator, offered to push their floor, and finally, allowed them to “please go ahead, I am late anyway”.  Social convention makes me smile when I want to growl.  Getting into the car and out of the garage became somewhat of a Keystone Cop experience as all four people who were riding the elevator with me all seemed to be leaving simultaneously.  It seems statistically impossible, but today it was going to happen.  All I was thinking was “get out of my way!” but what I motioned was “please, go ahead…I’m not in a rush.  I don’t want you to hit my car, so go first, second, third and so on.”

At 7 a.m. when I hit the road to head to work, there aren’t that many people around.  Yet, those that were, were all in front of me.  They were all going well below the speed limit.  I turned the radio up so I could listen to the news, which you all know is not so good these days.  I decided that the thoughts in my head were loud enough.  I turned off the radio.  My commute, is less than seven minutes, so that is nothing I ever complain about but is not always the right amount of time to readjust my attitude.  I found a parking space and figured if I averted eye contact with colleagues getting out of their cars, I could make a beeline to my office, shut the door and regroup.  Not today.  People were in good spirits which in my head, sounded annoying.  However, I smiled and asked how their break was and made the small talk I tried to avoid.  I almost made it to the office without further conversation and when I arrived with my key in hand, a voice behind me said “Can I talk to you?” I turned and it was a very sweet, but clearly upset ninth grader with eyes full of tears.  I didn’t growl.  I smiled and did my work.  I filled the day with  kids, which is usually one of the best parts of my day.  I made it through for the eight hours in front of me.  It was fine and sometimes better than fine.

After the school day ended, I was alone again with my thoughts and the people, who I was convinced, knew I was leaving work, and they were ready to drive wherever I was.  I told myself that the afternoon was going to be fine.  I had a few errands to run and kept up a lively conversation, in my head about my end goal.  I was looking forward to being home, making dinner and hanging out with my FHB.  I had four destinations before heading home.  So far, so good.  The last stop was the library which is a holy place for me but there was no time to stay and commune, I had miles to go (okay two miles) before I slept.  I returned my books and as I walked out and down the steps, I noticed the quiet around me. The wind was kicking up a bit, but it was still sunny. I slowed my pace down and took in the beauty around me.  There were also no visible people (though I didn’t look in the trees to see if any were ready to pounce).  I had been to the bank earlier and put my withdrawal in my pocket.  As I got to my car, the wind pushed the envelope out of my pocket and it was now flying down the street. I did not measure the velocity but it was moving faster than me.  I had another Charlie Brown moment.  I am sure I also had a somewhat crazed look on my face.  It is a genteel little town, so I kept the conversation in my head as I ran (gross exaggeration for anyone who knows, I neither run or trot) toward the envelope.  I was gaining on it and then a gust lifted it up, and  amazingly, against the tire of my car.  I dove with the grace of Esther Williams (not!) and recovered the envelope and clutched it to my chest.  The conversation in my head took a couple of turns and there was, I admit, some name-calling. I forgave myself and laughed out loud.  I let the wind take my bad mood and sent it out to sea.  I made it home with only one woman in the car behind me, talking to herself but really talking to everyone who was in front of her.  I recognized a kindred spirit and let her go ahead of me.

 

Island Vignettes

img_0051Time away from the loft to re-energize in anticipation of going from the shortest month, to what seems to end up feeling like  the longest month, is pretty easy on Martha’s Vineyard. Here, this February, the temperatures are climbing to the high  60s, and crocuses are blooming on a lawn, and forsythia are in bloom in the area called  Up Island.  It gets even my FHB to smile his hidden smile.

It is a time of small indulgences . It involves  a stay in which, were it  July, would be a prohibitively expensive hotel.  We overlook the Edgartown Harbor Light from our room and the island, though occupied, is quiet. Who doesn’t like quiet?  I like hotels but I get a bit quirky about how to manage the room.  This is often a bone of contention between my FHB and me.  I want to be a good guest.  He suggests that we are paying not to be bad guests, but to relax and let others take care of our needs i.e. fresh towels, new little bottles of soap and body lotion and putting the hairdryer back in the little bag.  I like to straighten out the bed, while not making it, at least leaving it looking as though we didn’t have a pillow fight.  I hang up our clothes and wipe the nightstand and hide my personal possessions somewhere out of sight.  I vacillate between leaving our towels on the floor in a heap, which we do not do at home, and picking them up and putting them a little helter skelter on the towel racks, so that the housekeeping people get the hint to replace them.  I don’t put the hairdryer back in the bag because I don’t know exactly how to do it like they do.  That’s my concession.  My FHB might already be sitting in the lobby area, waiting for me to go through my military inspection before leaving to start the day.  Everybody’s got something…

We had a minor miscommunication this morning when I was asked where his shirts were. I had, before we left home, suggested that he might want to bring a nicer shirt in case we decided to eat somewhere with cloth napkins.  He suggested that I might as well pick out that shirt.  I did, but apparently, I was supposed to have checked the psychic wife network to pick up the message which was ” and please pack several shirts because I am not going to”.  We were going to be away for four days.  We were not going to wear the same things every day.  He had one shirt, which he wore over on the ferry, which was balled up and placed in the dirty laundry bag.  There was one shirt I packed. You do the math.  Luckily,   despite about half the businesses being closed in February, the other half were open and even more luckily there were sales at one store, and while he sat in the island sunshine, I found something that could fit the bill.  Disaster averted.  First world disaster…it’s all good as they say.

Tonight’s dinner out, which was in a place with cloth napkins, fell a bit short in the menu department ( my opinion).  We had made a joint decision to try a place recommended by the woman who sold me the shirt (that was saved for tomorrow’s dinner out).  We reviewed the menu online and my FHB said yes, based on the appetizers that included chicken livers in wine.  He said “You had me at chicken livers…” as the movie line goes.  Unfortunately, and more to the point, the menu had not been updated.  I was disappointed for him.  He got over it quickly and made an alternate decision. I mulled over the menu like a prisoner on death row when the clock is ticking.  I couldn’t find anything that really piqued my palate. I glanced at the gentleman’s  plate to my left.  I looked at the  menu to try and identify what it might be.  It had wide noodles and it looked a bit interesting.  Couldn’t find it and then went through a moment of concern (another first world worry) that they would run out of this unidentified dish before I could decide.  The wait staff arrived and stated that they had one special.  She described what my neighbor was having.  I heard pappardelle noodles and did not listen to the rest of the description and ordered it.   Suffice it to say, it was a decision made in haste, in an emotional frenzy.  Like buying a dog, when the last thing you need is a dog.  Disclaimer, I love dogs.   My FHB ordered his dinner and we waited and listened to the conversations and music around us.  The dinners arrived and my FHB dug in happily.  I was presented with what looked like school lunch which included mystery meat in a sauce.  The noodles were there, but it sure had looked better on the other guy’s plate.  I felt like an eight year old pushing the food around and picking out the noodles and pushing the meat to the side.  As a good guest, when asked by the wait staff if everything was okay, I smiled and played that game.  I then made an executive decision after some other wait person cleared our table, that despite acting like an eight year old, I was going to find a dessert to save the day.  I generally don’t get dessert, except when we are on an island, and on vacation, and my dinner is yucky.  The dessert, three little cannolis, made us both happy.

Island life….gotta love it.

Enjoy the good weather…Happy Weekend.

The Stubborn in Creativity

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Playing hide and seek with inspiration can be exhausting.  There are many things that my wishing to be able to do them, doesn’t make it so.  Flying a plane, walking a tightrope or a plank, swallowing fire….things I ponder and reject pretty quickly.  Singing the National Anthem at a Red Sox game, doing a voice over for a Disney film, making and baking the perfect eclair, probably not going to happen.  Being in the right place at the right time for me is like being at the airport when my ship comes in.  However, I don’t stop thinking about how to achieve certain goals, and knowing that possibility includes the root of possible makes me smile.

I accept that I am not conventionally brave, which rules out a lot of risky business.  It is mostly the physical pursuits that are elusive and practically, I don’t want to hurt myself, so I avoid them.  Spending time imagining is often the path to exploring my creative side.  This in concert with my stubborn (tenacious) abilities makes me want to try things that I have in my head.  Translating them from idea to reality is often frought with dogged arguments with my FHB.  We are often on opposite sides of the seesaw. I say PoTAHto and he says PoTAYto.

In December of 2015, we went to Nantucket for the weekend. It was unusually warm for December and for Nantucket, having a bright blue sunshine-y day, on the 100th anniversary of of Frank Sinatra’s birth, made everything that I could imagine, seem like the perfect opportunity for inspiration.  We walked down the cobblestoned street and looked in gallery windows.  It was the weekend that most businesses were closing or preparing to close.  The local folks were relaxed as they headed into their winter to enjoy and prepare for the onslaught of tourists, but not for another four or five months or so.  Something caught my eye and I crossed over to the other side of the street and stared in the window of a gallery that was closed for winter.  I didn’t need to go inside and the proverbial cartoon lightbulb with lots of exclamation points lit up in my head.  There was a large installation of a series of battered and painted pie plates in a few colors organized in a checkboard pattern.  I fell in love with it.  My FHB traversed through the oncoming traffic (which was not much that day) and lumbered behind me as I waved him across the street.  I was shouting (which did not necessarily NOT draw looks…people are a bit put off by my often unbridled enthusiastic New Yorker rooted shouts).  You might have thought that I saw a celebrity or a rare bird (in which case I would be very quiet and shy) but this was something that made me react in a big way.  I turned back to stare in the window and saw the shadow of my FHB with his ever rolling eyes walking slowly , trying not to let people see that he knew me.  Sometimes it’s a curse.  Oh, well.  I pronounced that the object of my affliction (as my father might have punned) was this piece of art.  Deep sigh.  It was clear that it was an unrequited love, only in my eyes.  That’s okay because it wasn’t the first time, I was the one with a vision and he was the one with a headache.  That’s what marriage is about.  Giving and getting. I give headaches…you can figure out the rest.

This is when he says, in his martyred gentle tone “Calm down…talk slowly, you are babbling!”.  I am successful as I now have his attention and so I opine.  I explain that I have a plan for something that I want to create.  I see I am losing him.  Sometimes we don’t see the same things the same way.  Probably for the best,if the world was that way, one of us would be redundant.  Backtracking in time, I remember when I told him that I wanted to weave a wall hanging.  He is such a good guy. He went out and bought me a loom.  That’s what a partner does, listen and follow through.  The problem was, I didn’t imagine doing it with a loom.  That seemed way too complicated for my brain and too orderly and normal.  I didn’t want to make placemats….I was thinking big.  We had found a yolk for a steer at a flea market.  That was the top of the weaving.  I used twine, rags, copper wire,and a plank of wood and it was perfect (in my mind).  I had to rely on my FHB to help put it together. But it hangs in our bedroom, my interpretation of my imagination. He stares at it nightly. I smirk.

What I was inspired to do was to take a series of old rosettes found locally in a place that specialized in demolition and deconstruction of old houses.  It was one of our favorite haunts.  I liked going through the dusty, dirty and lead painted pieces of houses and found exactly what I was looking for.  I drew it out, I presented it to him to help me make it real.  I am not the practical one in our relationship. I am not precise.  I can’t always do it without help. I am also not so patient when I want it to be done.  I mixed paints, organized the rosettes and my FHB helped create the finished product.  Maybe it was the spirit that day on Nantucket, of Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” that led me to know that my stubborn would end up hanging in our loft.  When my FHB and I  met,for the first time, many years ago, I asked him if he was a fan of Frank’s.  He has always been  one of my fantasy hearthrobs.  He said “no, I don’t like him at all!”.  I remember thinking “this is not going to go anywhere…”.

Anybody want to buy a loom?

Staying put

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I don’t know if I should count my very first move from the hospital in Manhattan where I was born, to Jackson Heights in Queens, New York where I lived until I was 21. That would bring the count to fourteen.  I was not an army brat, although my father was in the army during World War II.  After a while, into my various moves, my mother told me that she had switched  from writing my address in  ink to pencil, in her address book.  She wasn’t the only one who said that to me.

My parents moved to the two bedroom apartment I grew up in, a few years before I was born.  They never moved from there and my mother lived there, after my dad’s death, for another nine years, bringing the time living there to fifty-eight years.  My sister and I endured living in a very small bedroom sharing the space that my FHB, upon seeing it for the first time, declared it to be the size of a hamper.  That may have  been a gross exaggeration, but not by much.  Two girls, four years, three months apart, sharing one closet, in a room approximately 9 feet by 10 feet (the size of an average prison cell is 70 sq. feet), was challenging.  I rose to the challenge by constantly moving the furniture around and in adolescence, demanded that my parents buy me a folding room divider so I could have privacy and access to the door and window, which left my sister control of the closet.  The various iterations that I came up with was like moving the numbers around that nine cell square plastic puzzle where you try to put the numbers in numerical order.  I was never content with the arrangement, and it led to discontent on my sister’s part which just magnified the lilliputian size of the room. Living with me,  in general, nevermind in small spaces, was not easy.  We had been told that had my sister been a boy, they might have considered a move to larger quarters.  I was pretty territorial, always, and even on vacations as a family, I made sure that I could define my space, by  claiming which bed or how many dresser drawers, were mine.  In retrospect, my parents, having moved as adolescents, from Germany to New York, following the rise of Hitler,  before World War II, had made the biggest move of their lives and once they were settled in, they were there to stay.  There was an unstated message that we got, which was that possessions didn’t matter, because in the scheme of things, they could be taken away. Being “allowed” to move and be an immigrant in a new country, changed what you value in the big picture sense, and being allowed to live, made other requirements for living, less of a priority.

I stayed local for college and afterwards,  left to move to the midwest and start my life as an adult.  The next several moves were from Illinois, back to New York, briefly and then I began a series of moves within Massachusetts.  The longest I ever lived in a place, besides in New York, was for 12 years.  I have an internal restlessness which is hard to pinpoint.  Moving from place to place was like satisfying an itch and I like making each place, my place.  Somehow the unspoken lesson from my parents’s life experiences, made it easy for me not to get attached to more than the people I live with, but not to the surroundings.  I have always like the challenge of a new place and it doesn’t take long to give it an identity.  Moving, on the other hand, is somewhat like forgetting what labor and birth is like.  It doesn’t hurt until you do it again, and then you remember that it is long and arduous and at times painful.  Packing is exciting for a few minutes, because you are already mentally in your next place. However, then you still have that pesky task of boxing up your worldly goods carefully and remembering what is in each box (not one of my strong points). When the movers finally show up, and you always think you have it all under control, you put your stuff in trash bags which don’t have any identifiers only to have a room full of bags and thus begins the “surprise” unveiling of whatever was thrown in the bags at the last moments.  You would think I would get better over time, but I still accumulate too much only to move with too much.   My sister, who has helped with most of the moves, declared that she bows out from future relocations.  I am grateful that she tolerated me, never mind the myriad of moves.  It’s akin to packing for a trip, and bringing your closet, just in case.  My FHB declares never again.  I respond, never say never.  We are just about to sign the lease for another year in the loft.  We do it more easily with each passing year.  I still rearrange the furniture and add and substract possessions.  My level of contentment is bound by my settling into the rhythm of my days.  I fill my head and heart with memories of great moments that I can unpack, and I find that I can always make space for new ones.

Have a good weekend.

Love-ly

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I was remembering the little boxes of valentines that my mother picked out for me to write for every child in my class in elementary school.  The practice was that you wrote one so you would get one and no child was left out. So, even if I didn’t like someone, or they didn’t like me, we still exchanged valentines.  I found it to be a lot of work.  It seemed rather insincere but one of those politically correct things to do, long before there was political correctness.  Of course, as an aside, I think political correctness is currently understated, or maybe overstated. I haven’t quite decided.  Sigh….

I always had male friends, even as a little girl. They were cousins or children of my parents’ friends and I never liked them “like that” since they were more like annoying brothers.  The first time I remember really being interested in a boy was in fourth grade.  His name was “Dagwood” (a lie but you never know who’s reading this).  Dagwood didn’t know I even existed.  I just thought he was wonderful based on nothing that comes to mind now.  I didn’t know how to get his attention and I was not the female equivalent of suave, so what I came up with, on a Friday, when we had assembly and the girls had to dress in white shirts, blue skirts and some kind of weirdo red scarf was ,during art,  that I would paint the back of Dagwood’s shirt with a maroon colored paint that I had created.  Suffice it to say, it did not go well. Not only did I not get the boy, I got in trouble with the teacher, the principal, and my parents were not exactly thinking I was the next Vincent Van Gogh.  It was a “seemed like a good idea at the time” moment.  I’m thinking that if restraining orders were around then, Dagwood would have taken one out on me or I would have been charged with assault and battery with a paint brush.  I actually thought the shirt looked cool.  Having come up behind him brush in hand, just reinforced that I was a bit different, albeit creative (my thoughts, not those of others).  Dagwood and I never had a history from that day forward or backwards as it turned out.

I did have my first real boyfriend when I was thirteen.  He was three years older than me and we met at camp.  He was a counselor, I was a camper.  There were probably rules about that but it was a summer romance and I was totally in love.  He lived in my neighborhood and we spent the summer hanging out and it was good.  I went to my first concert with him  and saw “Every Mother’s Son” who were pretty much one hit wonders  of”Come On Down to My Boat” fame.  He met my parents, and my grandmother and I still have his high school picture which he inscribed “Not for a moment but for a lifetime”.  Then he dumped me for some southern belle he met in college.  Oh the pain.  It was the reverse of “See You in September” and more like “I’m heading south in September and you’re not in my address book anymore”.  One of his friends tried to “console” me, but I was not having any of that. I was a mess.  I’d just pine over his picture and try to figure out what went wrong.

Fast forward a couple of years to high school and college and dating and doing my own share of dumping some creeps.  I liked the going out part to concerts and movies.  I remember going to see “The Band” at the Fillmore East with my best friend’s cousin.  He was handsome and smart and he knew it. He was a jerk who called me by his ex-girlfriend’s name.  I’m over it.  It wasn’t love.  It wasn’t even like.  It was a great concert, but a not so great a date.

I always wonder, looking back in that rear view mirror we call perspective a.k.a. life, if love is the answer, what exactly is the question.  I find that easier to know now, decades later, that love is complicated and layered.  It has good days and not good days.  I sometimes look at my FHB and think “who are you?” and then I remember, you’re the man I choose to be with, even when it is a lousy day when I am both irritating and irritable.  More than that, I am apparently the person he chooses to be with when he is grumpish (made that word up, available for all to use) or obnoxious (or maybe that’s me). I met my FHB on a Monday and from that point forward after having a cup of coffee followed by dinner (which he counted as date #2), we just proceeded along like two friends who continue to share a good conversation.  Not all the conversations are easy but we don’t avoid them.  If I believed in Valentine’s Day as more than a commercial ploy to sell chocolate and roses, I would say he is my Valentine. I don’t need one day to celebrate, I need them all, 365 of them.

For those who celebrate…enjoy the day.

 

Tribulations of Travel

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It was August of 1971.  I was between high school and college.  I spent the summer working as a file clerk for the insurance division of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. It was located within walking distance of Union Square, known as the place where union organizers and socialist reformers would stand on their soap boxes and preach to the crowds of change and the rights of workers. They still do.   Ironic in some sense that I was walking in the paths of social workers long before I knew that was my path as well.  I worked alongside other future college students filing stacks of papers into files from claims.

It was a learning experience, not so much about the union but about what happens when you mess with the time clock that I had to punch in the morning, out at lunch and in again after lunch and out again at the end of the day. No one worked a minute longer than necessary as the workers (the full timers) spilled out of the building at the end of the day.  No one was impressed if you worked longer or got there early.  In fact, that raised eye brows.  I didn’t know what the power of a union was until I experienced it from the side lines.  The first day I clocked out for lunch at noon and didn’t know anyone since I was shy and worried about learning my job.  I didn’t have anywhere to go and decided that I would clock back in early  at 12:05 and do some extra work. Big mistake. I got to meet some of the higher ups who reminded me that I was to take a break, a lunch and not to spend time doing anymore than I was being paid to do.  It didn’t happen again. The job got better, although the work was boring but it was fun to meet some other people college bound and also to know that some of the full time employees had been there for years and years and college was out of reach for them. It was a lesson I still remember.

The summer was coming to a close and my parents and younger sister headed north to Vermont and the plan was that I would meet them there.  I had a week without them and as I was not yet eighteen, my parents made arrangements that my only first cousin who was more like an older sister than a cousin,  would spend the week with me and keep an eye on me.  It turned out to be better than I had expected and then it was time for me to travel on a Greyhound bus to Brandon, Vermont.  It would be forty five years later that I would visit the same place with my FHB.

I left from the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan.  I went and bought my ticket and the agent told me to go through a set of doors and it would be the second bus I saw.  I followed the directions and when I went to the bays where the buses lined up, I only saw one bus.  I looked at the front and it said Burlington. I was a bit skeptical but there was no one to ask and I knew Burlington was the capital of Vermont, so I figured everything was going to be fine. I got on board and put my bag overhead and climbed over a sleeping old woman and took what was the last seat, next to the window.  The bus driver appeared and we were underway. I was pretty excited to make the trip on my own.  I always travel with a book and as the bus pulled away, the first line of the book began….” In the small town of Burlington, Pennsylvania….”.  I looked around me and began to panic.  I looked down at the lap of the woman still asleep next to me and saw the top of her ticket in her hand. It said “Philadelphia”.  We were approaching the George Washington Bridge which was familiar territory for me because we travelled to New Jersey to see family all the time.  My heart was racing because I knew that New Jersey was next to Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia was in Pennsylvania, and now the book said Pennsylvania and I was clearly on the wrong bus.  As we approached the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, I vaulted over my seatmate and rushed down the aisle and grabbed the bus driver and in the boldest, loudest voice told him “Stop the bus, I am not on the right bus, I don’t want to go to Pennsylvania, I have to meet my family in Vermont”. For anyone who has ridden on a bus there is a sign forbidding you to talk to the driver while the bus is in motion, and to not go “Beyond the white line”.  Broke those rules.  The driver ordered me to step back.  I was not relenting.  I needed off that bus immediately.  Other passengers were beginning to rumble behind him and then my seatmate (who woke up from the noise I was creating) marched up to the driver and shouted at him “We had better not be going to Pennsylvania!”  I said that I saw her ticket and I knew New Jersey was next to Pennsylvania.  The bus driver pulled over. That never happens.  It happened.  He calmly spoke to the other passengers while glaring at me.  He said “This bus is going to Burlington, Vermont.  It is not going to Pennsylvania.”  I quietly asked the old lady where she was going.  Time stood still.  She shouted at me ” I am going to Vermont!”  The bus was silent.  I turned around and walked back down the aisle of shame.  I got back in my seat and shut my eyes.  I could feel the woman get back in her seat.  The engine started up and we went on our way.  It was one of those moments that in September, in my first college English class, I had to write a story about something that happened the summer before college began.  I got an “A”.  I realized I still had a lot to learn.  Still do.

Belamy

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Apparently last week, Facebook celebrated Friend  Day which is actually not the same as Friendship Day which is celebrated in August (which does not have a lot of holidays unless you include VJ (Victory over Japan )Day which is only celebrated in the US in Rhode Island and is observed on the second Monday in August. There is also National Watermelon Day which is celebrated on August 3rd, just because.  I thought I should share a few thoughts about the cycle and circle that encompasses the world of friends.  I also must give a disclaimer that since I am not a television aficionado, my knowledge of the series “Friends”  would not get me on a game show like Jeopardy, because I rarely watched, and always got Monica and the other woman confused.  You know who I mean, the woman who married Brad Pitt and then was not married to him. So I know some things but few that matter.

My first friendships were people who were the children of family members, and  the children of friends of my parents.  I don’t think exposure to other babies that you meet in infancy really establish friendships but in my case, my parents’ best friends had a son born about three months after I was born and as infants we shared a crib when they got together.  A bit scandalous, don’t you think?  It was 1954.  As time moved along, we spent a lot of time together, but romance, nah, just a pal who I gave a Valentine heart filled with candy every year, and he returned it empty for the next years delivery. I don’t remember getting the heart back other than empty.  The yin and yang of friendship, back in the day. I give and you take.

I was pretty selective about my friends, which essentially means, I didn’t have too many.  I met other kids in elementary school and in fact have maintained connections with the same few friends over fifty plus years.  There were also people I knew and who knew me but there were groups of people who were closer in social proximity and I was on the outer rim, now known as acquaintances.  Along the way there were the connections with people who had similar interests or who just clicked with me and vice versa.  I met them through work or school or through boyfriends or spouses , who were just passing through, but the friendships endured and despite time and distance, still exist.

There are some friends who you never  physically have the opportunity to see because of circumstances but you know they are out there and if you called them in the middle of the night (which if you are in different time zones could be dicey) would still answer the phone and let you know they are there to listen, as though the last time you spoke was moments ago.  When you catch up with someone you haven’t spoken to in  a while, the best feeling is when you can laugh and remember and tell stories that you both recall, which to an innocent bystander might seem like the two of you are lunatics.  To laugh with an old friend is joyous. To cry with them is to truly know the grace of friendship.

As someone who self identifies as an introvert, I am more comfortable in my own space, than I am among a group of people. I can speak to large groups about matters that matter to me and educate them, but my desire is to go back to my safe space and keep my distance and quiet.  I take a while to observe a group’s dynamics before I make myself known or heard. I would have been a good ninja but I don’t like swords and I have a feeling the headband would fall in my face which would lead to other perils.  I am still particular about who I share my time with.  My FHB is at the front of the line and always will be.

I see the people in my circle as bits and pieces of an every expanding puzzle that has no borders and sometimes a piece falls away and another fits in better for the moment.  Our needs change and our need for companionship or kinship shifts.  It’s normal.  Sometimes having someone to have breakfast with, or go to a movie with (as long as they don’t talk or hog the popcorn) fills that need.  Friendship is a living organism that requires some attention at times and sometimes functions with benign neglect.  I am grateful for people who take the time to care and show interest.  I don’t think I need to know that there is a Friends Day or Friendship Day as those folks I consider my peeps know that they are loved, even when not loveable and even when we are far apart.  Friendship transcends time, space and the international date line.  Be a friend. Keep a friend.

Belamy…. an old  Middle French word that means a close or dear friend……