Weekend Snapshots 24

Friday

My husband and two younger kids are visiting family in England for the next couple of weeks. They stopped off at my work on Friday afternoon to say goodbye.

Saturday/Sunday

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“And God wrought special miracles…”

My oldest son is spending the week in Arizona. He is on a “pilgrimage” with his church youth group. I think the fact that I managed to get my teenage son out of bed by 2 am and to the church parking lot by 3 am on Saturday morning for his ride to the airport could be considered a bona fide miracle.

Knowing the house would be empty, I thought it would be the perfect time to invite my college friends to visit Charlottesville for the reunion we’ve been talking about having for so long…I was thrilled when my friends agreed to come, all the way from Boston, Massachusetts and from Charlotte, North Carolina.

We painted the town red this weekend:

We went to Monticello and the Downtown Mall. We ate at some of my favorite restaurants in Charlottesville. We went to the movies. We tried the buzzy “bronut,” or brioche feuilleté at Marie-Bette Bakery Café…(délicieuse)!

Most of all, we talked and laughed, and talked and laughed some more. Although we’ve been in touch over the years, it’s been over a decade since we’ve actually seen each other. One evening I brought out an old box of photos and we had a wonderful time looking through them and reminiscing about our time together at Dartmouth College…

We even got to catch up over the phone with our friend who wasn’t able to come:

So much has changed since our college days. We have scattered to all ends of the United States. We are all gainfully employed. We collectively have eleven children. And, of course, now we are older, wiser, and far, far more mature!

Weekend Snapshots 20

Last weekend was perfect, because of all the things that didn’t happen. The snow wiped clean a full slate of activities, and we got to stay home in our pjs all weekend long, reading and napping and drinking hot cocoa. This weekend was perfect, because of all the things that did happen…

Friday

My beloved book group met this Friday. My friend, who has been hosting us for years, always puts out a lavish spread, which includes a decadent dessert she’s made and tea served in beautiful heirloom tea cups. Last month Calamity Jane here broke the handle of the one in the front. My friend let me back into her house anyway, and she even managed to repair the handle with some super glue. Our book group nights are always such a special occasion, and so I like to get dressed up appropriately:

What could be better than kicking off the weekend hanging out with dear friends who love you even when you break their precious things, and to do it in my pjs?! (Pajamas seem to be the common denominator for all perfect weekends).

Saturday

On Saturday morning I got an impromptu private concert with two of my favorite musicians:

Later that day another group of old friends and I got together over lunch. It was especially lovely, because it was a mini-reunion with our friend, who has moved away from Charlottesville. Drat! Forgot to take a photo! Next time, friends, next time!

As I drove away to the next appointment on my schedule, I got the news that the house we’ve been trying to sell is UNDER CONTRACT! Yahoooooooo!!!

Saturday was the first night of the two weeks that our church will be hosting PACEM, a roving homeless shelter that operates during the cold winter months in various churches around Charlottesville.

It was my first time ever being the nightly meal coordinator. My husband volunteered to make his famous lasagna:

and I had a willing crew of helpers, which included these three hooligans:

Sunday

I wrote about Rite 13 here and here. The last time I went through this brutal and sadistic ritual, I had some warning and time to prepare myself for the ordeal. This time I was completely caught off guard and the consequences were absolutely devastating.

After the service, I recovered enough to insist on taking a photo to commemorate the momentous occasion of my son’s Rite 13 and my public breakdown. Predictably, he began to complain about having to stop and take a photo. What I could never have expected were the shocking words that came out of his older brother’s mouth:  “She gave birth to you. Take the picture!”

Holy smokes! There is a God. And He and now I’m thinking more likely – She is good. Really, really good. 

The kids all insisted on closed-mouth smiles, because they were afraid goldfish crackers would be stuck in their teeth…

And I even got to get a photo with my son, because I did give birth to him after all!

New Years Past and Present

For years we rang in the New Year with friends of ours who have daughters close in age to our boys…Our kids have grown up with each other. Every year we would have a sleepover so that the kids could hang out until their bed time, and the parents could play after the little ones went to sleep…

Although the two-year-old was busy taking important phone calls, we still managed to include her in the annual New Year’s photo.

We were finally able to prise her away from the phone to have some cake…

For one reason or other, this cherished tradition fell by the wayside. We were delighted to be able to have our friends over to celebrate the New Year together again this year.

We prepared with a thorough cleaning – inside and out!

My husband made his famous lasagna…

and we ordered a galette des rois from MarieBette, the new French bakery in Charlottesville. Délicieuse!

Look what I found!

I got to wear the crown!

Crackers…

…and games until it was time for the countdown to 2015!

Get ready, kids, because next time we’re going to recreate the pajama photos!

Making Music and Merry

Many years ago, in one of my darkest and loneliest of hours, I made a friend who became like a sister to me. I was living alone at the time. Every night I would cry myself to sleep in a grim, rat and cockroach-infested apartment in a welfare hotel that was gradually being converted into graduate student housing. I know this sounds maudlin and over the top…like something out of the 19th century Russian novels I was reading for my degree at the time, but it’s true.

When my friend and I decided to become roommates, we lucked into that rarest of commodities – a beautiful and affordable sublet in an elegant pre-war building in New York City. It was a sign. For one magical year, we lived in an apartment with a fireplace and a large turret window overlooking Riverside Park. That year it seemed like anything was possible and everything was going our way. We spent many a night talking and laughing into the wee hours of the morning. We threw lots of parties. We started a graduate student singing group. Two of the people we auditioned were already friends who knew each other from another choral group. They sang their way into the group and into our hearts. A few years later, we married them. Many more years and six kids later we live a few hours away from each other, but we try to get together as often as we can.

My friend still knows how to throw a great party. This weekend my husband had to stay behind to fulfill his professional singing obligations, but the kids and I drove up to Maryland to attend the party of the year. …a cozy affair with just my friends and all of our kids.

While the kids decorated cookies:

I wandered around feeling nostalgic as I looked at Christmas decorations I remembered from our old Riverside Drive apartment…

I admired some new ones too:

After dinner, we played a game that involved drawing winter scenes on paper plates…

while they were perched on top of our heads!

We opened Christmas crackers.

They contained whistles that played an entire musical scale…

So naturally we played a few songs…

under the direction of our very able conductor:

We played dreidel:

This boy may have lost the dreidel game, but he’s a triple crown winner nevertheless:

We opened gifts:

We were sorely missing one of our tenors, but my favorite part of the evening was singing Christmas carols:

How lucky I feel to still be making music and merry together all these years later with these dearest of friends.

You can’t go home again…

I spent the weekend catching up with some friends from high school back in good old Arlington, Virginia. The only thing is, good “old” Arlington is actually brand-spanking-new-Arlington. The county is one big construction site. Old houses are being torn down and replaced with new ones. The Ballston area has exploded with buildings and is virtually unrecognizable. These days, there are very few familiar landmarks by which I can navigate around my old hometown.

My friends and I have changed too, of course. We’ve been around the block a few times. We’ve traversed the globe. We’ve gotten degrees and had careers. Some of us have married, some of us have divorced, some of us have had children. Some of us have lost people close to us. Although high school doesn’t seem all that long ago, to my astonishment – I myself have somehow become the mother of a high schooler.

For various reasons, we all found ourselves back in Arlington this weekend and decided to meet up with each other in Clarendon. Back in the day, this part of Arlington consisted of one or two streets with a couple of slightly seedy strip malls. The only reason I ever went there was to go to a little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant called the Queen Bee. This restaurant is gone, as is pretty much everything else I remember. The whole area has been completely transformed into a bustling mini-metropolis populated by twenty-year-olds. My friends and I, being just a smidge older, felt like a bunch of geriatrics in comparison.

At Cava Mezze, where we had dinner, we held our menus up to our noses and then at arms’ length trying to decipher the tiny print in the dim lighting.

“Do they want to prevent us from actually seeing what’s on the menu? Are they trying to save electricity?” I whined like a petulant old granny.

We moved on to Galaxy Hut, where we soon grew hoarse trying to shout over the clamor of all the young whippersnappers and the thumping music being blasted at full volume. I’m convinced the only possible reason twenty-somethings tolerate such loud music is because they’re not having conversations worth hearing.

Meanwhile, in our corner of the Galaxy, we were having a very interesting conversation. A friend of one of our group whom we had just met started talking about how she happened to have gotten an intimate part of her anatomy pierced in San Francisco by someone with whom the rest of us had gone to high school.

My friend Wendy leaned toward me and shouted, “What did she say she got pierced?”

“It starts with a ‘C’…Don’t make me shout it out loud, Wendy!” I yelled over the din.

“Can we get out of here?,” she said after a while, “I think there’s a coffee shop down the street where we can actually talk.”

Our group minus the piercee, who had drifted off by then, walked a couple of blocks until we found a quiet coffee shop.

My intrepid friend Wendy suggested that it was warm enough to sit outside.

“Sssure!” I said, as I zipped up my coat as far as it would go.

I tried to play it cool. I pretended I felt like this:

even though I actually felt like this:

Thank goodness someone suggested we move a little closer to the café, where we would be less exposed to the wind…I shuffled over there as fast as my legs would carry me.

And then we really caught up. I’ve always liked these friends, but it was lovely to reconnect with them as forty-somethings and to discover that age and life experiences have made them even better than I remembered them being…

The day after…

You can’t really go home again, but sometimes that’s not such a bad thing after all…In fact, sometimes the changes wrought by time can be wonderful.

Weekend Snapshots 15

Summer is winding down. The kids start school this week. Our last summer weekend was all about hellos and goodbyes.

We were glad to welcome our fourteen-year old son back after he spent a whole week away in Vermont.

We squeezed in visits with old friends:

We went to a BBQ in Free Union to bid a fond farewell to another friend, who is off on a new adventure on the other side of the world. We had fun discovering a new part of the world in our own backyard:

We revisited favorite places:

and had one last visit to Chiles Peach Orchard:

We appreciated the last flowers of the season:

and even the delicate beauty of our eight-legged friends:

Goodbye, summer.

Hello, fall…

Central Park

For our last morning in NYC, the boys wanted to go to Central Park.

 

 

As the boys climbed the rocks, Rosita and I sat on a park bench and chatted (and took pictures, of course). Here’s her lovely photo of a horse-drawn carriage:

 

It was time to leave New York and head back to our lives in different states.

When Rosita’s family moved away four years ago, I gave her a seal that said this:

 

When we met up this time, she gave me this pendant she had made using the seal:

Rosita's pendant

Rosita’s pendant

It was hard to say goodbye to our friends, and of course, we could never forget them.

 

 

Friends then, now, and always.

Happy Birthday, boys…We love you.

*Read Rosita’s take on our weekend in NYC hereEnhanced by Zemanta