I’m sitting on a warm porch – in truth – it’s hot in North Carolina right now! My sources in New York say it’s cooold up there, so I’m taking advantage of the sun while I can.
It’s been a lovely visit with Mary Caton and her family. But let me start from the beginning.
My dear friend, Sarah, flew from Seattle to New Jersey to take care of some belongings she’d stored with friends there.
Friday morning, bright and early, I finished packing up my car, topped up my power steering fluid at Salerno’s – the gas station next door – and headed for Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge.
It was quiet in the city, so early, and I could get through the tangle of traffic lights quite well, and to the tunnel, and then, bam, smooth sailing to South Orange, where Sarah was finished sorting and sending things to herself in Seattle, except for a rather sizable amount of things she would take with her and things she hoped to find homes for. Our dear friend, David, made me a breakfast taco and coffee for the road and we loaded Sarah’s things into my little Rav and off we went.
First stop was Philadelphia to have coffee with Sarah’s aunt Sally. We met up at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where Sally is a masters student, after retiring from a high powered career. She’s enthusiastic and excited about her studies – her new chance at the life she always dreamed of.
Sally went back to class and we drove outside of the city to her house, to have lunch with her husband, Franz. Franz is a pianist from Amsterdam, so he and Sarah have classical music in common. He recalled my vegetarianism and made us a fritata with potatoes and cheese and peas. It was delicious, and just what the doctor ordered, as I have been ravenous of late! Maybe it is the end of winter and I want to be more active, so I have to eat more. I’m glad for it! We played with Sally and Franz’s two sweet dogs and two sweet cats – each with very unique “animality” (as opposed to personality). Ha!
After lunch, Sarah and I left the drizzly northeast and headed south for greener pastures in North Carolina.
The drive was longer than it should have been, because of the extra holiday traffic on the roads, but it couldn’t be helped. We tried to escape the worst of it, but we spent an inordinate amount of time going 15 miles an hour for long stretches of stop and go traffic that made me want to bash my head into the steering wheel. Luckily, I had Sarah there, so the trip was fun, despite the delays.
A full moon followed us down I-95 and I couldn’t help looking at her undulations behind the clouds, which veiled her on and off.
We arrived after 11 pm and had a celebratory glass of wine with our hostess, Mary Caton, and host, Eric.
Their son was already asleep, and they were about to turn in, too, but Sarah and I stayed up a little while and chatted over a second glass of wine, to unwind from the trip.
Sarah, Mary Caton (MC for short) and I all went to college together in San Antonio, Texas. The fourth wheel of our group, Nora, also went to Trinity, but she currently lives across the pond and couldn’t be here to complete our quartet. We were different people when we met, no question about it. But we went through the changes together, and the friendships stuck.
We had a lazy Saturday of hanging out around the house with the little family. Henrik is now a year old and adorable. Very clever and did I mention adorable?
We went through Sarah’s give-away things and then took little Henrik to the Duke campus, where we visited the chapel and then went to the gardens, which were in full bloom. We brought a bottle of rose and sipped it in the sunlight from a picnic blanket as Henrik crawled and cavorted.
We made pizza for dinner, to eat as we watched the basketball semifinals (if I sound like I don’t know anything about sports, you’re onto something). However, this game was important, since Duke is where MC goes to grad school, and they live in Durham, which is Duke central.
We drank our traditional Manhattans together and enjoyed the game (and the homemade pizza!).
Sunday morning we had a beautiful brunch, prepared by Mary Caton, primarily. She made bacon and eggs and pancakes with berry compote. There was a festive wine punch with a little sparkle and citrus that was just right. I took it upon myself to get the centerpiece, which was redbud from a tree in their yard. However, the tree was only in bloom up high, and I couldn’t reach the branch from the ground, so I had to climb the skinny tree and hang upside down from the long thin branch till it bent down enough for me to stand up and trim off a bit of it. Good morning workout!
I also got some dogwood which was newly opened and barely blooming, but the flowers have opened since then.
The leaves began to green before our eyes over the weekend, especially since the house is in a little patch of woods, so we’ve had front row seats for the change.
MC and Eric hid plastic eggs for Henrik to find, with marshmallows and chocolate chips inside.
He’d probably have been as happy with two eggs as he was with a dozen. He enjoyed banging them together.
Sarah left Monday in a whirlwind of packing and rearranging and last minute realizations that there were more things to go through. A friend picked her up for lunch and then to the airport, and just like that, Sarah went back to the west coast and her Seattle life, laden with her precious things from her previous life on the east coast.
I stayed on in Durham for another couple of nights. On Monday, I performed a couple of songs for MC’s vocal students, which was fun. That night was an open mic where my friend Dylan runs the show, so I drove over after another delicious dinner with MC and Eric.
The lineup at the open mic was full, but I caught up with friends and enjoyed the familiar scene.
The next day, I stuck around, since I had no reason to rush back to the city. It was a sunny day and I soaked it up and we all had one last evening together in that happy little house. I made fried rice from leftovers and we watched Mad Men while munching fresh cookies. Mmmm!
I stayed up late enough to watch John Oliver interview Edward Snowden in Russia – very fascinating! It was shocking to see how many Americans don’t know who he is or what he exposed, but then, the discussion of what he has exposed has been both absent and present in the media. The NSA is mentioned, Snowden is mentioned, but as time passes, he recedes from memory. John Oliver is an amazing comic and critic and I felt that his interview with Snowden was really important.
Then it was bedtime. I awoke to say my goodbyes to the departing family, off for their busy days. I spent today finishing my laundry and writing, soaking up the beautiful, warm day and dodging bumble bees on the porch. Then it was time to hit the road, and so I said goodbye again to North Carolina.
I kept my sundress on and it was pleasant as far as Virginia, but then I had to capitulate and put on something warmer. By the time I got to Maryland, it started spitting rain. I saw large pileups on the other side of the highway, but the traffic gods were with me, and only the circumventing of D.C. delayed my progress with stoplights and low speed limits. But such is life.
I had plenty of time to think about what is going on in my life, but for a refreshing change, I found myself unworried, clear-headed. I’m unsure what is coming next, but I feel like I have made such progress in my own healing in the last year. It reminds me of when I was in India, in the south. My foot/leg had sustained a mysterious non-injury which nonetheless really hurt and prevented me from much walking during my first six months in India. I’d been trying to treat it with acupuncture and ayurvedic massage, but in the end, I had to massage it myself to get any results. Self massage was the only cure. But in a way, that wound has never healed. I still feel it – perhaps it is something inborn – an inequality between my two halves.
I got back to the city around midnight and unloaded my car, including all my new little reminders of Sarah and MC in books and objects. Visual reminders of my sweet friends and the time we had together. It is hard to say when we will be reunited again, but it was lovely to have a little dose of my ladies, even if we were missing an essential element.
Now to dress in warm clothes for a chilly city that hasn’t got the memo yet about spring, but I saw those blossoms blooming not far from here, so surely spring seeps north.
Love and miss,