Monday, April 28, 2008

We Have Time

You know in that movie Juno when Juno's dad asks her "where have you been?"  And she responds by saying "Dealing with things way beyond my maturity level."  That's where I've been today.

I am 33.  I should have friends that are getting promotions, getting married and having babies.  I should not have friends that have their spouses die.  Our spouses should die when we're 98 years old and don't care because we can't remember them anyway, now bring us some more of that there pudding.  They shouldn't die when they have two kids and new grandchildren and a lifetime to still create together.  But they do and my friend's husband died today.  And it's shitty.  I'm sure there is something more eloquent but if you want more, all I can come up with is it's fucking shitty.

He had health problems, which we thought he was past.  He wasn't.  He died in his sleep.  Peacefully for him.  Wrenching for his family.  They flew in this afternoon.  I didn't know that when I waved to him the other day it would be the last time I saw him.  I didn't know that the sirens I heard this morning were for him.  It was early.  I had to go to work.  I was busy and it just never even occurred to me.

When I found out what had happened and after the initial questions of where was he, where was my friend, were their kids on the way, did they need a ride from the airport, what can I do for them today, tomorrow and the day after that, I had some time to think about him.  And I remember that the times we all hung out were when we wanted to stop being busy.  We hung out to relax.  We hung out when we had some time to spend and it was a blast.

I moved to Portland four years ago this weekend.  Our company opened an office here and they needed some people to get it off the ground.  Twelve of us came up from San Diego and instantly bonded.  We toured the city together, met for happy hours and eventually ended up in the same neighborhood, most of us less than a mile from each other.  Over the years our own routines developed, but there were still plenty of dinner parties and cocktail hours and many, many lounge around nights watching movies, drinking wine and chatting.   

D had been a husband and father for over 25 years.  He knew when to stay with us and chat or leave us to our crazy girls' nights.  He knew when to pop open a new bottle of wine or when to break out the vodka for espresso martinis.  He knew when he had to take us out to dinner or fire up the grill.  One of my all time favorite dinner parties was this past Labor Day.  It was hot and they put together an old fashioned clam bake.  We sat around for hours eating shrimp and corn and clams and potatoes, sopping up the juices with crusty bread and sipping a cold Pinot Gris.  We laughed and told stories until we had to light candles in order to see each other.  We toasted the end of summer.

One of my favorite books is Under the Tuscan Sun and since Frances Mayes is much more eloquent than "this is fucking shitty."  I will toast D once again by saying thank you for allowing me to being a guest in your lives.  You will be missed. This is for you.

"Writing about this place, our discoveries, wanderings, and daily life, also has been a pleasure.  A Chinese poet many centuries ago noticed that to re-create something in words is like being alive twice ... like a friend who comes to visit, learns to mound flour on the thick marble counter and work in the egg, a friend who wakes to the four calls of the cuckoo in the linden and walks down the terrace paths singing to the grapes; who picks jars of plums, drives with me to hill towns of round towers and spilling geraniums, who wants to see the olives the first day they are olives.  A guest on holiday is intent on pleasure ... Like old peasants, we could sit by the fireplace, grilling slabs of bread and oil, pour a young Chianti ... Under the fig where two cats curl, we're cool.  I've counted: the dove coos sixty times per minute.  The Etruscan wall above the house dates from the eighth century B.C.  We can talk.  We have time."

Take it.