Measured Extravagance

09 July 2003 - 1:15 a.m.

Longtime readers of ME may recall that the weather gods enjoy messing with my flights out of Logan Airport. I wasn't stranded overnight this time, for which I thank said gods, but maintenance issues kept my 8:50 a.m. flight grounded until almost noon, which effectively hosed my 12:13 p.m. connection out of Detroit. Which meant, having been up since 5:30 a.m. EDT, I was feeling more than a little out of sorts by the time the Beautiful Young Man collected me around 6:45 p.m. CDT. We headed straight to his car club meeting, where I ordered a second glass of cabernet (having thrown down my first at the airport while waiting for him) and a Long Island iced tea, and then a couple hours later it was home to the pets and piles of mail and . . .

. . .and today I'm achy (allergy shots, throat on the verge of sore) and wildly annoyed (those piles of mail? grrrrrrrrr) and somewhat sad - my friend Daryl was buried today in Georgia. He was 41 and succumbed to heart and lung problems nine days ago. Daryl was the most enthusiastic baseball fan I'd ever met - his entire attic was devoted to The Game, and we attended several Tigers games with him - and gave great big bear hugs. He and his wife both cared deeply about their Detroit neighborhood, and they walked their talk - I remember Shannon giving a lot of thought and time to her work as a Big Sister, and Daryl's obituary directs donors to The United Negro College Fund.

Darryl had been in line for a lung transplant. My friends, here's hoping it won't be an issue for your nearest and dearest anytime soon, but do please consider discussing organ donation with them if you haven't already done so.

On a much happier note, it was an exceptionally fine weekend. Sunday morning, Beth dropped me off at First Parish - interesting sermon on respecting one's own limits, a chat with some visitors from Wisconsin afterwards and a brief stroll through part of the Old Burying Ground. Then Beth and I walked over to Spice for a pair of curries and lots of water, and then it was to the MFA, where we alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) marveled and laughed our way through the Gainsborough exhibition. The curator(s)'s captions were amusing and artful - Beth noted how the story of Elizabeth Linley was subtly narrated, and pains had been taken to display a flute (which women of Gainsborough's era seldom played, because it distorted their faces) next to a guitar supplied with piano keys (so that female performers would not risk breaking their nails).

After visiting a lav with a really uncooperative door (finally yanked open with the aid of some seriously unfeminine swearing), we toured some of the Asian and medieval galleries. As we left one of the medieval rooms, we overheard a young man advise his companions, "Don't go in there. It's Christian iconography - the downfall of art. The Dark Ages, dude!"

Beth and I held off until they were out of earshot and then bust out laughing.

Sunday night, escorted by her Dane, we eventually wended our way out of the parking garage labyrinth and joined Kale and Michaela for dinner at Pigalle, which was outstanding. Good wine, excellent company, a half-duckling for me and lobster, cod, bass and salmon for the others.

If she hadn't confessed about the bed and the sheets, I never would have guessed that Beth wasn't used to cossetting houseguests every weekend - she was that good at it. (And her partner's no slouch, either. The man seemed to overflow with stories and patter and good humor, even in pain, and he clearly adores Beth.) And so was Swoop, for that matter, who needs to stop fretting over whether she talked me senseless - especially since I distinctly recall asking her to shove me off of my soapbox if I was pontificating too much at her twelve-year-old. (Said kid is still awesome, incidentally - one minute she's giggly-shrieky over Sims HotDate and her classmates' antics, the next she's asking "what does refinancing mean?" and asking if we think she can get into Harvard.)

Saturday was a succession of get-togethers with friends old and new - Indian buffet with a college classmate and her husband, tea with marymary, more tea and a walk around Radcliffe with my Conzertgebouw companion, and then grilled salmon and Googlewhacking in Arlington.

Oh, and seeing the red door to Dewey Cheatham & Howe while looking up a used bookstore in a Brattle Street building. I was so excited when I saw that that I rushed to the nearest payphone to tell the BYM.

Friday was steak and lake and fireworks, the weather veering from searing-sidewalk hot to absolutely perfect sleep-naked-outside-were-it-not-for. . ..

Speaking of perfect conditions for sleeping naked, I'm home and it's late. Time to rinse off and turn in. I'll type up more notes about the trip some other time, but my current deadlines are going to mess enough with my sleep schedule as it is. Tonight I cannot quite let go of the feeling of wanting more time with my friends- in Boston, in Detroit, in Chicago, in Lexington, in Philadelphia - as well as those right here in Nashville. And yet I must hoard enough time to honor my existing promises, not only to others but to myself. Truth be told, one of the best aspects of this trip was feeling wanted - yes, yes, yes, I'm cherished and complimented here at home as well, and I don't take it for granted, but there's something about visiting - about connecting with friends in too-brief bursts that accentuate rather than alleviate the yearning for more of their company. The pleasure they take from your presence, you hold it close to your heart, hoping such memories will survive and sustain the demands of the days ahead. Sing out praises for the journey.

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