So here’s the story.
The kids and grandkids all came home for Christmas. The day after they left we were to go to my nephew’s wedding. Two weeks later, Richard was going to be spending a week taking care of his dad, and when I booked that airfare awhile ago, Michelle told me I ought to go off gallivanting happily somewhere while he was gone. I told her no way–we were blowing it all on air, hotel, and car for the festivities.
Which were held in southern California, where the bride was from.
Then the stomach flu happened and that was that.
But I found myself thinking of what my daughter had said and y’know? There was to be a second wedding reception two weeks later in Atlanta, where my nephew is from. We hadn’t had to pay for the hotel or car, the original airfare was transferable to a new trip (thank you Southwest!) and there you go. Matter of fact, it was almost as cheap to fly to Baltimore from Atlanta and home for a three-jog trip than to fly straight back from Georgia.
And that is how I got to see my brother’s new house, he having recently moved to Atlanta too, and he picked me up from the airport and I stayed a night with him and his wife. The next night was the reception, then that night at my sister’s, along with fourteen other people: nieces, nephews, their families, all people I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. (It’s 90 minutes between their houses–one does not go back and forth too easily.)
From there to Baltimore and I stayed at my childhood friend Karen’s. Having it be a holiday weekend made it all the better because everybody had the next day off. Given all the changes in our lives that have happened the past few years–including that one friend’s husband had died last March and her brother of a heart attack last month–it was the right time to be there, to be physically and truly emotionally present. Karen, Kathleen, Bev, Scott, Jeb (not that Jeb!), and even their mom came down by train in time to spend a few hours with us. What a joyful, wonderful time it all was. Those you love in your life are forever a part of you, and to get to BE there…
Bev and Karen and I tried to walk a bit of the canal the next day, something we’d all done a lot of growing up and that none of us had for several years now.
It was twelve humid degrees with a biting wind, though, and no twenty-something Californian temps in December had been anything like it: the slower parts of the Potomac River just above Great Falls were actually frozen, with the wilder parts of the currents still going. (It’s a lot wider than it looks in this picture but my fingers just could not push any more buttons to try to get better shots.) Canada geese were on the flowing parts of the river (never seen them there before), mallard ducks were on the still-liquid parts of the canal.
Karen motioned down the hill and grinned that if I wanted to go splash in the Potomac like I always like to do when I’m home, right here was a good spot for it.
No. No way. I know, I do, but not this time, and boy that’s sure not something I wanted to fall into, either. Brrr–I had wool knee socks, a thick wool skirt, three layers of gloves on (two fingerless), a baby alpaca cowl plus a scarf plus a hat–two, but one kept blowing off the other, its wide brim caught in those gusts, so I used it to wrap around my fingers. Over my coat and boiled wool jacket and cashmere sweater and thick silk cowl shirt and silk t-shirt I had on Karen’s old big warm parka and still the wind blew through all those layers. It was COLD. (Thermals? Who owns thermals in California? I am so going to knit me some wool leg warmers…)
I got to be there, too.
I have never been so grateful for stomach flu in my life.
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