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Monday, August 8, 2011

A GATHERING OF FRIENDS

lee krasner, free space, 1975



The last several days worked with a synchronicity that felt heaven sent, a meeting that was supposed to be. My friends Lucas and Judy in Conyers, Georgia, near Atlanta, were here at their weekend place across the road. Lucas and I went to College of Charleston together and have stayed in touch ever since. Another such friend was Ted, who is living in Brooklyn. We knew each other at College of Charleston. I was going to put Ted in at Lucas & Judy's because I don't have room for a guest right now and my spring is dry, meaning no water. I get water in half gallon plastic jugs from their kitchen sink and use rain water collected in buckets for the toilet. It's no problem for me, but I can't ask a guest to live like I do. When Ted first talked about making the trip for a three day visit, we talked about Monday as his arrival date.



Judy and I talk on the phone and she said they were coming up Monday. I mentioned Ted might be arriving Monday. I got Ted's arrival and departure times by email, but not the day. Get a message from Judy they decided to come on Thursday, to give me and Ted time together. I actually thought I'd like all of us to be together instead of me being the focus of attention. Then I get an email from Ted saying he was arriving Thursday. I laughed at the obvious meant-to-be aspect of it. It seemed to me the Divine Hand wanted all of us together for a period of 3 days. Lucas and Ted were slightly apprehensive about that much time together since they hardly knew each other at the college. I knew each of them, but they didn't know each other very well. Both had been to VietNam in the war.



I went into it wary of being knocked out of my groove. I feel like I've had a good rhythm, a groove, a balance for a few years now and I want to keep it, at least the best I can. I decided to roll with the flow, go where the flow goes, keeping my eye on the flow. The flow was there from the start. I got into terrible mental fixes working the maze of Charlotte NC getting to the airport from 77 with not one sign until right upon the airport. Then, the sign was hidden behind shrubbery so you couldn't see it until right up on it, and I have to decide what lane of 3 to get into immediately to turn whichever way I had to go. Those kinds of moments jangle my nerves. I managed to make it to the airport, not by finding my way, but by trial and error, not knowing how to translate the signs. I've not been at the airport in so many years everything has changed drastically. Found a parking place and walked from there.



I went inside the lobby, but would go no further. Cops everywhere. It was like being in a country under military dictatorship. Before I left the car, I put my pocket knife in the ash tray to keep while I was on foot in the airport lobby. I wore a shirt with a collar and no hat, letting my retired cop white crew cut give the pastoral appearance of somebody who obeys. Cops all know on sight I'm not one of them. I didn't want to get patted down and my pocket knife taken away. The pocket knife was given to me by the widow of a friend who died several years ago. I've never lost it and it stays with me as the pocket knife in my pocket whenever I need one. I found him and we found the car after another maze search. Then getting out of the parking lot was another maze without signs. We went around and around, finally finding the way out by trial and error. The only thing systematic we could try was not doing the same thing more than once. Finally it happened.



Finding the highway was quite another matter. I went the wrong way to 77 and had to go the length of Charlotte to get to the place the highway comes into 77 if I'd turned the right way. It added about 20 minutes to the drive. So what. Scheduling was over. We had good conversation up the highway and then the mountain. It was a good drive. The car was perfectly dependable. It served me well coming back too. I groaned and cussed much of the time until we were out of the city on the way to the mountains. I couldn't believe the traffic on the interstate. Steadily constant. I've not been on the interstate in so many years everything was different. In a city situation like that it feels like I'm in a sailboat getting tossed about by a storm way out at sea.



We made it back to the mountains smooth sailing. The car was a joy to operate. Back at the house, Judy and Lucas had some wine ready. We sat on the deck with wine and talked for a good while, getting reacquainted. All 4 of us were English majors. Judy is originally from Brooklyn, and Ted has lived there longer now than Judy did growing up there. Ted's daughter started at Columbia this year. We had good lively conversation next morning over coffee and in the evening over wine. During the days I took him around to see the landscape and meet people, stop at Selma's for coffee, to meet her and anyone else to come in that I know. I planned nothing, let everything happen as it happens. I wanted to take him Saturday to meet Justin and Crystal. On the way there I told him where we were going, and if they weren't at home, then we're out for a drive in the county's landscape. They were not home, though he was able to meet the baby, Vada, at Crystal's dad's mechanic shop in Glade Valley when I went there to pay him for the new tires I got 2 days before. Diane, Crystal's mother, takes care of the office while Chuck does the mechanic work. Diane had the baby for the day.



We watched McCABE AND MRS MILLER last night, another Altman film. All of us but Ted had seen it when it was new, and not one of us recognized any scene. We all recalled nothing about it, except that we liked it a great deal. It was made about the same time as Nashville. Some of the same actors in both films. For all of us, we'd have been hard pressed to determine that one of those two films could be better than the other. All of us love good films. It was just our good fortune that these were the two films from netflix at this time. The entire visit of my 3 friends for 3 days has been successful in every way possible. A good vibration flowed between all of us. And all four of us were people who appreciate knowing people, person to person, appreciate others for who they are. I never once was knocked off what I call my track, my flow, my rhythm. All the city people slowed way down. We flowed.



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