New Year’s Eve. I’ve mostly ignored it, the hoopla and poopla I mean. Never traveled or celebrated, or even considered it a holiday really. I congratulated myself on being sensible, and not being out on the road and chancing the elements, or the other drivers. And I never gave a lot of thought as to what the new year actually might have in store. Never once considered the kinds of changes that 2014 had in store for me, even for those few years afterwards. But this year is different. For better or worse I’ve set a path for myself that may be unpredictable, but I know I can handle the bumps in the road. And I’m looking forward to lots of happy times. Now that the holidays are behind us I’m planning to light up my new year with the faces of friends that I haven’t seen in a long while. And some that I have seen but will always need to see again. It’s gonna be a very good year…
They called it The Nip. A small pond, as it was described to me by my old friend. Playmate really, since we were children when we last saw each other. Until a year ago when a Facebook fluke reconnected us. We took a ride to the Nip yesterday and I didn’t think it was so small. He described camping there as a boy. Canoeing and fishing also. There was a little beach too, but it was barely there yesterday. Someone had left a chair at the edge of the water, and they had a campfire set up and ready to go too. And there is an island out in the water also. Of course there is, what a perfect setting for childhood adventures. “Shh”, he said, but there may or may not be several beloved dogs buried on that island, but you didn’t hear that from me.
I moved away from the neighborhood we shared during the summer that I turned nine years old, so the memories made in that neighborhood stood alone to me. Wonderful memories of all the fun that we had. People our age know exactly what I’m talking about. But now I’m getting to hear about how the adventures continued on without me. I’m still seriously annoyed that I didn’t get to ride an inner tube for miles down the river, but I also missed the having to trudge those same miles carrying the inner tube home part. Maybe I left at the perfect time. Soon enough it wouldn’t have been appropriate for me to be tagging along on the adventures he was having. But it sure was fun while it lasted… He made sure I saw this before we decided we’d had enough of the cold. This was taken right there by the little beach. Mr. Darling was the principal of our elementary school when we went there, and to find that he was buried there was a surprise, to me at least. Apparently the fact that kids were out in nature and having adventures didn’t start with us…
My hometown of Brockton, MA has survived the years since I moved away, but time has beaten some of the polish out of it. I remember gorgeous old churches on street corners, churches made of stone with impressive turrets and stained glass windows. The fact that they weren’t Catholic Churches meant that I never ventured inside though. Some of these beautiful buildings are gone now, and the corners they stood on now hold far less beautiful, but possibly necessary, building’s like Walgreen’s, etc. A friend told me that there used to be four Congregational churches in Brockton, each in it’s own lovely building. But each of those buildings eventually needed repairs that couldn’t be afforded so they joined forces into one Congregational church, and I did venture inside with a friend yesterday. I went to the service with her in order to surprise my cousin who sings in the choir, a plan I hatched last summer. But I was glad that I went yesterday because there was to be a children’s Christmas pageant that day. It was charming, written by the group and punctuated by beloved Christmas Carols to help tell the story. It was very well done, simple and charming. And that’s how I would describe the entire service. Simple and personal. And the church itself was beautiful, but not opulent. White beams and a magnificent organ. If I’ve been taking a trip into the past, nostalgic for things as the used to be, then I found it there. Not in a fancy church, but in a sweet and charming service. Helped along by the fact that the show was stolen by the little boy in a homemade sheep costume, who stopped to hug his mother and then had to gallop down the aisle to catch up with the rest of the players. No picture though, but I know you get it.
While you’ve been concentrating on all the people you love, the ones that you are heading north to see, there are people here that you love and are leaving behind. There will be heartfelt goodbyes to say here. Neighbors who I’ve been blessed to know, and who have helped me feel secure in this first ever time of my life in which I’ve lived alone. But not as alone as I might have felt if not for them. And my photography friends, I will see their adventures in photography online, and look forward to being out shooting with them again before too long. And then there are my coworkers, who were my sounding board as I went through this biggest challenge of my life. I thought of myself as alone these past four years, but I see now that I haven’t really been alone at all.
I sent a note to a friend’s mother to apologize after sneaking away without saying goodbye. I told her how much I have always hated saying goodbye. She sent back a note and said that in her family they say Auf Weidersehen, ‘until we meet again’. Yes, that’s it exactly, it’s only goodbye for now, until we meet again.
I took myself out for a quesadilla burger last night. I’d been thinking about them for a week or two, and since burgers are the Monday special at Appleby’s, and I had stayed home and cleaned the house most of the day, and all the pots, pans, dishes, and silverware are at the mobile, it seemed like the thing to do.
The parking lot was quite full, so I hoped there would be a seat available at the bar, and there was. It was empty actually, I was surprised. And as I sat there enjoying my burger a mother and daughter came in and sat a little bit away from me at the bar. I couldn’t help but hear their conversation and it became obvious that the daughter was there to support the mother who had just lost her husband. It was a brand new situation for them, should she ‘have something’ here, or was it okay to just do it ‘back home’ was a topic. The Mom and Dad had apparently frequented Appleby’s. Mom said that if her Michael had seen that they had ordered breadsticks with Alfredo sauce he’d have shaken his head. She told the bartender that she didn’t know if she could bring herself to come there without him, but she decided that she could do it while her daughter was with her this first time. I related to them so much, to the two or three days that my son stayed with me in the aftermath of Charley’s death, until I kicked him out, sort of. I felt connected to them, though they had no clue and we hadn’t spoken a word to each other.
And then it was time to leave. I had switched to a bigger purse because I’m carrying more with me back and forth, and I love that purse but I can never find anything in it. Like my wallet, but it simply wasn’t there. This had never happened to me before and I wondered why I wasn’t in a total panic, but I wasn’t, and I quietly (I thought) told the young gal who was bartending that I was embarrassed, and asked if I could give her a check. She said no, it’s fine, just stop by another time and take care of it. As I asked for the check I heard the mother say, “We’ll take care of it.” I looked over and she was in tears. She thanked me. She said that her husband would have loved this, it was perfect, it was just the thing he loved to do. And while this wasn’t my finest moment I felt so calm as I saw what this moment was for her. I thanked them, hugged them, and told them that my son and I had spent this same time together four years ago. And Mom thanked me again, said her husband would be so pleased with this, and asked that the next time I go out and have a drink, to please raise my glass to Michael and say, “Dilly dilly.” And I will…
“The best times in your life are the little moments when you feel like you’re in the right place at the right time.”