Posts Tagged With: time

Friday Night Memories

It’s Friday night and friends just left.  They called about dropping by, and I was out shopping but quickly  got in the car to come back home so that we could visit.  This is what retirement is about — making the time to visit with good friends. Whether  I’m in Lake Charles or elsewhere, it’s important to me to spend time with friends.  That’s is crucial.

And tonight was such fun.  They brought one bottle of wine, and after that bottle and two more, plus two pizzas, they left to go home.  I am sitting here smiling, thinking of the joys of having and taking time to spend with friends, as well as family.

My original plan was to be at the family farm tonight but I was too tired to contemplate another three and a half hours on the road today and three and a half on Sunday. I mean, I love to travel; I love to drive or fly or whatever.  But since I got home on July 18, I’ve done a lot of road time.  I needed time to stay in place, to stay home, at ground central.  And thus I had the time to say “yes” when my friends Barney and Molly called about dropping in.

When I’m in Greece, it takes a bit more work.  I can email or text or call friends to meet me for coffee at a particular coffee shop.  I can drop by the Athens Centre to visit friends there.  But dropping over isn’t the done thing there.  It requires calling and scheduling, though scheduling a dinner party is interesting.  In Greece, scheduling too far in advance isn’t possible — people need to think, to plan, to fit it in.  But I persist.  And many though not all my friends are part-time and full-time ex-pat Americans.  I can make arrangements for a dinner party the week prior to the actual dinner.  Sometimes, though, it’s tricky to manage.  

As the visiting Cajun American, I try to offer a bit of Cajun cuisine and hospitality.  The Southern girl that I am at heart also requires that I set this up with some care.  I make sure to have sufficient if not plentiful food.  I plan for, say, 10, when 5 or 6 might show up.  Or 4 or 5.  I can always freeze food for later.  Certainly I will cook something with crawfish, probably crawfish étouffée.  Additionally I offer a salad and some bread.  Wine flows in abundance.  And dessert is simple — ice cream or fruit.  

At home in Cajun territory, we sit at the table for hours.  Long after the mean has ended, we sit and talk, lingering over wine and listening to music.  While the food is important, the friendship and community are more central.  Without that connection, there would be no point (other than a superficial one) to be together.

So here in South Louisiana, I have friends over.  I play music on the CD player.  Perhaps they bring music.  I cook, and we eat. But more importantly, we talk about anything and everything.  It’s all about the connections, about the friendship and love.

It’s the same in Greece. really.  Meals there are social events, and the gathering is for the human connections, not just the food.  Food is really the catalyst, the excuse, but not the central event per se.

From my first visit until now, I have always found Greece strikingly similar to South Louisiana.  There is a very Southern feel about the country, its culture, and how people connect.  There too, meals are social events.  Even if the group is family and does not expand beyond family, the meals are merely settings for the talk, the conversation, the long lingering over food and dessert and drinks.

And that’s the way it is in Greece.  When I have friends over, we stay at the table for hours.  Certainly, there isn’t much room beyond the table, but more than that — it’s the enjoyment of being together.  My friends are from such a range of places and experiences, and our conversations range far and wide.  This past summer, a friend from home here in the U.S. was visiting, and he was there when I had friends over for étouffée.  It was fun to watch him interact with my Greek and American friends as our topics of conversation came from any and every possible topic and angle.  I loved watching him react, and gratifying to see my friends get along.

Tonight as I sit in the office, typing here, I am smiling ( and yes, it’s in part the wine, but more the warmth of the evening spent with friends) at the sheer pleasure of friendship.  

Here at home, or in Egan, or at the beach, or in Greece, or elsewhere — the time spent with friends and family is something that cannot be duplicated.  Neither can it be bettered or improved upon.

Real conversations allow us to bring up almost anything.  It’s safe and comforting and a wonderful experience.  That we keep refilling our wine glasses is a secondary event.   

Tonight I have gone nowhere outside of Lake Charles.  Yet in memory and in thought I have been to Greece and back.  I have time-traveled in memory as well.  And I never left my own living room, my own rocking chair.

Travel certainly implies physical space, dimension.  And I’ve traveled out of state, out of the country, out of Lake Charles.  This year alone, I’ve been to Texas and Louisiana, London and Istanbul, Athens and elsewhere.  Additionally, I’ve traveled vicariously with friends who’ve gone elsewhere.  Finally, I’ve traveled in time, in memory.

Now, though I sit in my home in Lake Charles, in the present time, smiling at the kind of friends and culture where it’s okay to call and/or just drop in.  We’re short on formality, long on real connections. 

Right now, though, I need to wrap up the evening, clean the plate(s), throw out the trash, and be grateful.

Travel tonight?  Yes, thank you.  Not in space or place, but in memory. 

Instead of being here in Lake Charles, I meant to be at the family farm.  I wanted to be there.  But only yesterday as I sat here at the desktop computer, I knew I was tired, that today I would be even more tired.  So I decided to stay, not to hit the road.  After all, I’l do that on the first weekend in October, when we gather for the Richards family reunion.

For now, I want and need to stay in place, to drive no more than 4 or 5 miles, to be at home.  

From time to time, I need a respite even from travel, from driving, from road trips.  Being able to travel doesn’t mean that you must travel.  Otherwise, that gets just as routine and ordinary and boring as anything so repetitive.  

Next week is full for me.  I’ve got meetings and Leisure learning classes and an 8-hour precious metal clay class.  

And I need to get started on a book project for a client.  There’s a book to proofread for my cousin.  

Plus I am ready for some sleep.  

Indeed, I think it’s time for that even as I type.  

Tonight, as I think about travel, I think about how many ways it’s possible to travel.  That can be from one country to another, surely, but it can also be from one place to another, from one time to another, from one culture to another. 

I’ll think about that as I crawl into bed in a few minutes.  Maybe I’ll dream about driving.  I did that last night, or this morning.  

My traveling tonight will be, as in some magical realism, in dreams and memory, on a garden of forking paths.  You know, where people who never knew each other suddenly do know each other, who are part of a life that is as real as anything yet not your own reality.  

Friday night lights illuminate not football in my mind (other than in memories about high school and college).  Instead they illuminate places in memory.  So it’s time for some light shining on the past, on places and people.  

Only with solid examination of our past can we hope to see who and what we are, and to have any sense of what we’ll become.

Traveling offers us such growth, such joy, such pleasure.  If you haven’t lately, take some time to travel.

Even if you stay in your own living room.  


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Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

This gentle tune has been floating in my head now for weeks, probably for all sorts of reasons.

I start to do something and then discover, days or even weeks later, that I haven’t finished or completed it.  I start to call friends and get interrupted, only to realize that I didn’t, and in fact haven’t talked to them in weeks.

I understood why this went on during Dad’s last months, and in the months immediately following his death.  But now?  Now when I think I’ve awakened from some kind of protective hibernation?

The last post is an example of this:  I actually wrote and posted it last month, except for some reason it didn’t appear.  I kept thinking I needed to log on and take care of the problem, but something always happened.  Today, though, as February is almost over, I actually did it.  One click and it’s posted.  Finally.

Some projects take my time — simultaneously I manage to play with my jewelry and crafts at times, sometimes with friends, but most often alone.  I manage this while the major project goes on around me:  kitchen renovations.

My kitchen was one of those projects that started 3 years ago and died a painful death.  I stopped because I ran out of money and time.  I was still teaching.  I was commuting more.  Then I was retired and living mostly in Egan with Dad.  It just remained an ugly eyesore in a house that screamed at me that it was being neglected.

It’s taken me months to locate someone (a) who could handle that and the porch project that must also get done and (b) who could be trusted.  Finally, after I forget how many phone calls and attempts to find someone, after the “I’ll call you back with an estimate” disappeared ones, I have found a gem.  Thanks, Sarah, for the recommendation!

That progress simply brightens everything — not just the house, but me as well.  I am moving on.  I am working on MY house.  The kitchen and the porch must be finished before I leave in late April for nearly 3 months in Greece. The other “fix me” calls will be answered, probably in order, but not until I return in July.

As Fred works, I sit at the dining room table (amidst cups and saucers and mail) and read.  Or play Words with Friends, or Scramble, or Word Warp.  Sometimes I look at catalogs.  Sometimes I look online for paint colors or sheet vinyl patterns or explore the merits of quartz vs. granite.  I spend a lot of time thinking and making lists, too.

I don’t have papers to grade or classes to prepare for, so all of those old deadlines are retired (along with me).

At other times, friends come over and visit.

Some days, the time slips by and there’s minimally visible progress in the kitchen, though a lot of prep work has gone into it.  Hours have passed and I have read newspapers and parts of books and surfed the net.  Then after Fred leaves I quickly run an errand or two.

At night I watch some television and/or read, dogs and cats curled with me on the bed.  I forget that I can use the telephone — a hangover from months with Dad, when talking on the phone could disturb him, when I slept as I could.

So for just over a month now, time has slipped away even more.  Peacefully, even enjoyably.  Yet it slips away nonetheless.

And here it is, only hours away from March 1, and in taking stock of myself and my life I hear Judy Collins in my head wondering about the time.

I can tick off some things on my to-do list.  Taxes?  Started, but waiting for more documents.  Clearing the house?  Only a bit.  Yesterday I managed to clear out the living room, sorting into three rooms.  Today?  I’ve sent some vital emails for insurance and taxes.  I’ve started clearing the office (which will take days, but if I work a little bit every day . . . .).

Each day I rise (eventually) and immediately make the bed.  Somehow that’s necessary.  I may hang around the house in sweats and a t-shirt, but if I want to crawl back into bed (and sometimes I do), I have to make an effort for that.  When Fred texts that he’s coming over to work, I corral the pets in the back and close the door.  Of course, then I hear them scratching and barking and purring for release.  Occasionally, too, Homer the Greek Goddess (from the island of Spetses) actually gets the door open and frees her companions.  She’s a street-smart Greek cat and knows how to manage.  I return the escapees to the back of the house once more and secure the door, preventing further escapes. When the mail drops through the door slot, I get it and go through it, sorting some to keep, some to toss.

So my days go.

Yet in the past six weeks or so, I’ve done road trips, too — gone to see Willie Nelson with friends and spent a night at the beach house, gone to see Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen with my sister and spent a couple of nights at the beach, gone to Baton Rouge, gone to Crowley for business, to Egan and Lafayette for family and friends.  My cousin and her husband have come to the area casinos and we’ve had good visits. I’ve done some visiting here, but not what I need/want to do.  And tomorrow I’ll head to the farm in East Texas for a family weekend of laughter, food, and work.

March is slipping in and as February slips away, I put away Mardi Gras finery and begin to sort through closets and clothes.  Spring cleaning and sorting has begun.  Yet the weather hasn’t yet warmed up permanently, so I need flip-flops and sandals and shoes, sweatpants and shorts, t-shirts and sweaters.  A “cold” front has come in (far from snow, but “cold” for us here on the Gulf Coast).  I’m enjoying it, truly, because all too soon the heat will begin to rise. And rise.  And rise.  Along with the humidity.

Next week, I’ll tackle the back room of the house, sorting boxes of stuff (I have no idea what’s in some boxes) for keeping, for storing, for giving away, for junking.  That will be a marathon job, and I really look forward to it.  It’s the only way I can imagine tackling it, frankly.

Business done, business to do.  Mardi Gras over.  St. Patrick’s Day in New Orleans to come in a couple of weeks.  Planning a 3-week library series for the first three Tuesdays in April.

And the suitcase(s) for Greece will come out soon and begin to fill.

It’s 1:15 p.m on a Thursday and I haven’t been out of the house today.  I probably will, later, but I’m still figuring out time management.  And realizing that all time is precious, that time that slips away isn’t necessarily wasted.  That some things I’ve let slip need attending to — friends and time with them, not to be lost.

Who knows where the time goes?

I’m just glad I have time.  And enjoy every minute of it.

Maybe I’ll call some friends to meet me for coffee today.

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