21 years ago, in January, our house caught fire in the early hours of the morning. We listened to the dream that woke us, and everyone in the house got out alive, and safe, including the cats. We had time to get downstairs, call 911 before the phone line burned through, and 10 minutes later, where we had been sleeping was ashes. Journals and keepsakes, clothing and possessions gone in an instant.
Sometimes it takes something as radical as this, what we like to call a clue-by-four, to waken us to gratitude for living. I remember my sister on the phone, concerned that everyone was okay. When she heard they were, she brightened and got excited for me. “Now you get to SHOP!” she said. And so I did. There was such an outpouring of support from friends who organized to sift through the rubble with archeological and forensic skills. Treasures were found to carry forward, some of which I keep today as tokens of hope.
My overall realization, thinking back on it is “Shit happens. It’s what you do afterwards that defines you.”
Life offers so very many opportunities to be busy with projects, there seems less time for socializing in person. In order to keep up with news of chums around the world, and even those here in town, I am increasingly dependent on social media. I am often caught up in simultaneous chat conversations in Sydney, Tasmania, New York, Seattle and San Francisco. This almost takes the place of letters, though some family are not available on line, and letters are the best way to thoughtfully communicate what has happened in the last few months. I have taken to writing a letter for family members, and send it to multiple people, much like my friends can catch up on news here, or on other social media.
For many friends, we only catch up in person when I am in their city, however, as we travel more, we are meeting up in cities we all want to explore together. It makes it a bit of an expedition, and coordinating it is part of the fun. Planned enough ahead, a visit to London can include brunches and lunches, dinners and late night drinks with friends who are there from other countries. We can visit the British Museum together, wander around Covent Garden, catch the markets in St James Church, or wander through Hyde Park for a morning stroll. A visit to Forbidden Planet, the terrific Science Fiction store in London, is a treat. And Baker Street is a must for the Sherlock Holmes fan.
However, nothing is as good as a long weekend where we stay up late talking, have a lazy brunch, and meander through the day. Sitting together over a meal or three sets the tone for there being time to listen, and to be in the moment.