Apologies of the Road

Sunday Morning ~ Apologies of the Road 

Tapita m’njira adasiya tonse m’khola. ~ Those who say we just follow the road (not branching off to visit the village) have left us all in the kraal.

~Chewa proverb

July 4, 2021

HI Everyone,

Fresh off a girl’s trip to Tennessee, I’m sitting on this rainy Fourth of July morning and considering lessons from the road. I couldn’t write last week; it was the first Sunday I’ve missed in years. I sat at the breakfast table while others drank their morning coffee, my laptop open, pretending to type. It looked like I had a lot to say, and I thought I did. But my brain was fuzzy and confused and nothing made sense. I couldn’t put the trip together in a way that seemed worth reading so just sat, grateful for this group of friends, and decided to stop pushing the blog uphill. 

I’m quite sure there will be eight people reading this week wondering what I’d say about them. Five of us took to the road and three flew to the one who lives there, making perfect attendance for the first time in a while. There were many hilarious moments and a few intense ones. There’s something special about being with people who know your past and accept you for who you are despite the irritations and conflicts. The storytelling and laughing is nearly non stop and seventeen hours in the car flew by. Conversation may lag for a post prandial moment, but it recurs with no effort and I’m constantly amazed at how many unshared details of our lives still exist. We are like a bunch of sisters who assemble and meld our aged experience with adolescent immaturity. It makes us seem simultaneously wise, competent, youthful, and petty and it feels great.

In normal times we get together annually. We alternate locations between my house one year and an alternative destination the next. When the pandemic hit we started doing weekly zoom calls that cut off mid sentence at forty minutes. This trip was planned during one of those sessions when Kathy (“most dramatic” class of ’74) said she was auditioning for a play. Margie said, “Hey, if you get the part we should all go!” and months before we knew that might be possible we eagerly jumped on the train. She got the part (of course) as Nat in Rabbit Hole, an intense play about a family dealing with the loss of a son. Kathy was perfect, lighting up the stage whenever she walked on. I love watching people do what they do well and she was born to act. Though, I thought it a strange choice of shows for post-pandemic entertainment (a comedy maybe?) the portrayal of dealing with grief, feeling heard, making ones own way through, was poignant. Kathy executed the occasional funny moment perfectly, relieving the tension and giving the audience a break. Well done, my friend. 

Now, Kathy wants to write a play about us. She presented this idea as we floated around a neighbor’s pool while the day-drinking wore off. Grand Dame of ideas, Kathy dramatically described how we (meaning she) should write this script, but we all needed to participate in the shaping of the play. We must whittle down the dramas into a plot that can be acted out in two hours. Since it would be complicated to stage our horse back riding calamities in Iceland (one of the funnier stories) there was a thought this theatrical performance should be honed to our first weekend reunion; the stage sets would be more manageable. Considering this idea, I’m really appreciating the skill it takes to portray a story on stage! A lawsuit was threatened by the most private among us, fearing something or other about her life becoming public, while the rest of us hang dirty laundry out without a care. I chuckled at the thought that a) the project would actually get to the point where it might conceivably happen, and b) what great PR a lawsuit would be for the show. I started imagining what I’d wear to the Tony awards, but then Kathy thought nine was too many actors and we’d have to eliminate her part anyway. 

We learned a lot on this trip. Not only at our National Park visits (Harpers Ferry, Mammoth Caves, Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace), but about how we interact and revert to childhood patterns when we’re together. It’s like going home to mom again and can be both comforting and unsettling. We had ample hours in the car to analyze and discuss this and there was a lot of apologizing. I thought about how much of our lives are sound bites, how misunderstandings fester because we don’t spend enough time hashing things out. It takes patience, investment in friendship, recognizing value in long term relationships, acceptance. I’m learning more about what shapes us and am often dumbstruck at the fact that we are even here to tell our stories. We lived through some crazy shit and not everyone we knew did make it out alive. We’ve got material for more than one show. 

As we start the next phase of our lives with medicare and senior discounts, we are keeping each other young and willing to branch off to visit the villages. I’m grateful.

Love to all,

Linda


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