Strange dear, but true dear, when I’m close to you dear, the stars fill the sky. So in love, so in love with you am I….. Cole Porter..
I am, in my mind, drafting thank you letters to friends with whom we shared an AMAZING weekend. One was my high school chum. I found out a couple of years ago that he had a crush on this dorky girl but was too shy. This astonished me. Really? You, sir, are about as shy as a New York stripper! Just sayin’…. I was only learning what fork to use myself. His wife, Michelle, is an amazing woman and now my good friend. What an honor.
I have always been aware of how special my friends are. And the husband has always been aware of how special his friends are. We commingled. But it was nothing like this weekend. I knew that the Steve I introduced to my husband shared the same brain. Simultaneously scary and delightful. Also, I knew that his lovely (and I do mean LOVELY) wife Michelle would continue to teach me more about all that is being gracious in a world that doesn’t care whether you are or you are not.
The second event was the result of a fellow horse nut, high school friend and daughter of another crazed father. (Bike rides to “La Tejanita!”… Part of growing up in Arlington Heights in the 70’s.) We were very close in high school and clung to each other, after a fashion, amidst our respective chaos. We had lost touch in the mid eighties after being her maid of honor in the blizzard of 79. No more winter weddings for moi! Their son was getting married and we were invited to visit history and witness new joy. It was bliss on a stick…
However, I still haven’t gotten over the bridesmaid dress. Okay I’m over it now…. 🙂 Hell, we were probably really styling. Perspectives change with the passage of time.
My husband is about as anti Southern California as they come. It does not escape his notice (nor mine) that our town in the wild west contains many many expat SoCals and refugees who reached the same decision we did about Chicago: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. The race is over, the rats won and we QUIT!! I do recognize there are many who thrive on that environment and so, God speed, John Glenn. Also, many of these same ex-pats have the sense to flee when the winter threatens with it’s closed highways, fifty mile an hour winds and multiple feet of snow. Not us, of course. Admittedly it is also it is fun to trek back to “civilization” for visits and a variation on “culture”. I must admit that I end up mourning the lack of the variety of grocery stores and recalculate my campaign to get a COSTCO out here. Currently, the nearest one is four hours away in Billings, Montana. If they can have one, why can’t we?
Hell, I NEVER thought I’d be where I am…
Recently, I returned to Chicago and landed at 5 p.m. to head to my destination. I distinctly remember thinking, “WOW! These people think this is normal!” But I also understood how much I miss the Art Institute, Millenium Park and the SEARS Tower. For the record, I will NEVER refer to it as the Willis Tower. Blasphemy!
I used to think that the social websites were another step down the decaying stairs of civilization. But, I have discovered, along with everyone else, the gift of these sites. Whatever Zuckerberg earns and whatever his initial motivation (collegiate hook ups?) it is well worth it. But I still cling to the traditional proprieties… The phone call, the birthday card to a friend, this and more are mandates in my world. I had to learn these niceties by reading Emily Post’s etiquette tome after my ignorance found me judged and wanting. My children expect me to walk on my knuckles any day now.
What these sites have afforded me are connections that were languishing, or even decaying. Our trip to California was telling testimony to that fact. What a gift! They afford that for all of us. It also affords me the opportunity to “speak” to my daughter in Tokyo despite the fourteen hour time difference. It allows me to track my sons’ social life without helicoptering or stalking. It allows me to “talk” to my high school friends and my relations instead of wondering, “I wonder how so and so is doing?”
Yes it is technology. But I have discovered that sometimes “techno” is good. That is the lesson I have learned and taken to heart. But I come to it sad that the proprieties are changing, shifting, morphing. I don’t, however, think the book, (not the nook) of Emily Post’s etiquette rules should be shelved. It is ignored far too often these days. (Geez, I’m a long way from codger-dom but don’t I sound like one?)
Wayne Dyer said, “Just because there is a distance between you and someone doesn’t meant there isn’t a connection.” We did not know this with “snail mail”. Or maybe we just accepted that mail would always be there. Snail mail remains good. I am a stickler for the written thank you note, complete with these things called envelopes and stamps. But in that medium, I view myself as Sisyphus. What I mourn is the shoebox of notes and letters languishing, but available to review and smile.
Okay, I did shred the letters from the college boyfriend who couldn’t spell. But not before correcting them, copying them, and sending them back to him. Yes, it was that bad of a “relationship”.
My father in law, whom I met shortly before his death, wrote home to his wife pretty much every day in World War II. It is through those letters that I have become acquainted with him. We also have some of my mother in law’s letters. It allows me to see a different perspective rather than our contentious relationship. I succeeded in getting my mother, before she died, (as well as my uncles) to put pen to paper and record their memoirs. The links continue. If I do nothing else, I have done that and continued the links….
Somehow, reviewing e-mails on a screen just isn’t the same. At least not for me. But I also scrapbook on paper and refuse to go “digital” in that media as well. I want my children and their children to touch something that was touched by me. Assembled by me. With stories and vignettes and memories filtered through my personal lens. Something that my hands touched and theirs will too. Another link in the chain. A small moment unlimited in the future that I have made. If no one else doing the touching “gets it”, it doesn’t matter. I will, from wherever I am.
Hugs and blessings