October 16: The metro car, filled with middle school students on a class trip, lurched and stopped suddenly. Squeals. The lights went out. More squeals. One boy asked another: why did the lights go out? His friend kindly explained, “Because the train draws power from movement. When the train stops, the lights go out.” Two stops later, they disembarked from a fully lighted and fully stopped train. I wonder if they noticed.
October 17: We were sitting around a lunch table at work. One colleague, holding a bottle of Diet Coke, turned to another colleague and said, “Ready?” “Ready,” he replied. Phssssssssst. The carbonation sizzled out of the bottle as she turned the cap. My other colleague sighed, content, as though he had had his first sip of soda in five years.
October 17: My friend’s grandmother had a parrot. My friend’s grandfather had a beer (each night when he returned home from work). And so, each night as the grandfather stepped through the front door, the parrot would say “Tsck…pshh…fwshhhhhhhhh.”
October 18: Grrrrrrrr. We had a long car ride ahead of us and got a late start. Friday afternoon congestion started earlier than we had anticipated. I was getting crabby as we encountered our third stand-still, and Google maps —propped on the dashboard —promised more ahead. Kevin tried to comfort me. And suddenly Siri did too: she burst out with U2’s “Beautiful Day” exactly when Bono sings “The traffic is stuck, and you’re not moving anywhere,” and then cues the chorus to remind us indeed that it’s a beautiful day. We laughed and laughed, perspective restored.
October 19: I’d never heard the expression “longer than a Polish wedding,” but when I do I’ll smile, nod and summon a memory of joy. This was a wedding of incomparable food, dancing, drinking and laughter. For nearly seven hours, amid toasts in both English and Polish, we celebrated the wedding of Kasia’s mother Lucyna to Dominick. The tables sagged under platters of lavish cold hors d’oeuvres, quickly supplemented by pierogi, mushroom crepes, pasta, salmon and shrimp, and tasty chicken breasts. We danced to create gastronomical room and freely helped each other to wine.
Knowing that cake requires no sharp tools, we eyed the waiters warily as they tucked steak knives under our plates. But we savored the filet mignon and tucked into our table’s bottle of Johnny Walker Red — for medicinal purposes, you understand. (We didn’t dare drink the vodka.) Fresh fruit, coffee and a 12-inch tower of Polish pastries completed our meal, along with more medicinal Scotch. (I know there was wedding cake, but we didn’t try to find it.) The music, the singing, the dancing, the hand-holding — the love — were non-stop. And we staggered to bed after midnight, knowing that in Poland we would have galloped through another five hours of food and festivities. To Lucy and Dominick, we say “Na zdrowie!”
October 20: We knew before we went to bed that our hotel was just across the Hudson River from Manhattan: We had seen the skyline as we rolled in. But we didn’t expect the meadow outside our window when we flung open the morning curtains. Acres of wild autumn shrubs and grasses rolled beneath us and tickled hillocks of trees and grassy swales. We gasped. Even the tips of the skyline seemed to strain to see this surprising wonder.
October 21: I rolled over in bed this morning, reset my alarm, and experienced a deep contentment. The sheets tucked up to my chin, the open window offered breezes and birdsong, and I released my body into a state of doing absolutely nothing at all. I even persuaded my mind to (try to) rest. For almost twenty minutes I stepped outside the whirlwind and surrendered to just being. It was lovely.
October 22: A friend told me this story: Today, her friend wandered into the 7-11 to buy her afternoon pick-me-up: a Diet Coke a and three mini Reese’s. In front of her, a man, a bit scruffy, asked for two packs of cigarettes. The woman quickly found herself passing judgment on his appearance, his habit, even his lifestyle. Then, as though he felt her laser focus, he turned to her, asking, “Is that what you’re getting?” When she nodded, he turned to the cashier and said, “I’ve got this.”
*** Is kindness taking a swizzle stick to the universe? Tuesday night October 22 addendum: Nats WIN World Series Game 1, 5-4 — !!!!!!!!
A Reader’s Note: From my dear brother-in-law Loyd, who is a loyal Cardinals fan and true friend: Hey! “Love reading your blog, Carol Ann! You don’t come right out and say it but last week’s post is infused with the glow of (OMG!! The National are going to the WORLD SERIES!!!) Go National League! Go Nationals!!!!”
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