Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Albany, soft spots and thumbs

Strangely my thumbs hurt this morning. I don't really understand why this should be as I have not, of late been overusing a calculator, drumming my thumbs on my desk nor biting my thumbs at you, sir, Romeo and Juliet style. Whatever the cause, it is a bit plodding to type right now but I shall sacrifice for this very important blog of mine. You're welcome.

So other than my thumbs, I have a bit of a bruised ego. I have the throbs for this young man in town and twice already I've made a damn fool of myself in front of and off to the side of him. How very high school, nay, how very ME. I mention it only because it sits right atop my skull, like a newly formed fontanelle; occasionally flexing a reminder of how in some respects, I never left adolescence.

All this physical and psychic aching is assuaged only by what pleasant weekend I had in visiting old friends in Albany. My oppressive overlords jobs make my schedule an often insurmountable blockade and scheduling one day away, much less an entire weekend usually has to happen on accident. But against all odds, I had a free weekend and up to Albany I went.

I enjoy the train ride upstate because Amtrak brilliantly plotted their tracks right near the Hudson and so the three hour ride is scenic and quick and just an all around pleasure, particularly for someone who hates driving as much as I do. The ride allowed me to read the bulk of Murakami's Norwegian Wood which I'm enjoying immensely insofar as I enjoy the feeling of longing and nostalgia and distant memories of unattainable love. Don't we all? In between chapters I had the privilege of eavesdropping on a few cell phone conversations that took place in the seat behind me. This older gentleman kept receiving calls during which he outlined how the funeral he attended was, how someone named Ben, an old friend from Bombay was doing, how his chemotherapy was going and when he'd be back in Maryland to help his sister with her assisted living application. I looked out the window at the sparse ice chunks floating atop the river and the snow dusted, leafless clusters of trees as I accidentally heard this late life disquisition. Deaths, eulogies, checking in and living with assistance, all things we are all going to face in some form or another were kind of the perfect soundtrack. I'm only now realizing how deeply I hate winter.

I can only hope the M's and the G's (the two friend families I was cool does referring to an entire family by one letter sound? I kind of love that.) realize how dearly I hold them to me. Braving the cold, and it was cold, is de rigeur, if not a source of mild amusement, for Albany residents (Albanyians?) but considering we've had an eternal autumn downstate, going up there was a shock to my old, creaky ass. Thankfully both the M's and the G's have lovely, comforting homes. And they have filled these homes with lovely, comforting people. I've known these friends for years, since high school and they are the kind of forever friends you can fall easily back into, no matter how new or different your lives become over time. On Friday I hung with the G's. Bridgit picked me up from the station with her two freaking adorable little daughters. I can't even really just say freaking adorable because it doesn't fully describe the level to which you want to squeeze and adore these little ones. We spent the afternoon chatting in the warmth of their living room, alternately catching up and playing. In the evening when Richard got out of work, they took me to a lovely restaurant in town and I ate spicy green beans which went very nicely with a Guinness and yellow shrimp curry atop fresh pasta. The littlest of the G's got a bit sick but the good part about that was that she aimed it perfectly into a plate. Actually, it was hilarious.

After dinner we headed back to the house and the girls went to bed while I stayed awake chatting with Richard for a bit. After he headed off to bed I went up to the guest room where I noticed some old photo albums on a shelf and I flipped through them. Part of one was a collection of photos from the time Bridgit and I travelled to London at the same time. We stayed at different houses but met up frequently throughout the two weeks. That trip was my first one to Europe to see Rowan and Katie in the spring of 1999. I want to scan some photos from that trip too because I have so many memories from way back when. One of the best ones was attending Easter mass at Westminster Abbey and standing in line for communion. It was almost perfectly timed in that Bridgit and I ended up stopping dead center in the middle of the boys choir just as they started to sing. It was all so holy! Looking at her pictures I felt happy and nostalgic and a bit like the smallest piece of a nesting doll set. An old friend in the middle of a new life. I'm not even sure that analogy makes sense but that's what it felt like so bite me.

The next morning Becca came to collect me and I spent the afternoon at her house with the M's. My godson is now taller than me. Children I once cradled in my arms are teenagers. So simple and natural, yet it rocks my foundation. Becca and I became friends around the age of her son. O the humanity. I introduced the M's to Community and it is really such a joy watching that show with a group of witty and warm people. Witty and warm would make a great name for something. A bookstore? Anyway, I was again treated to a lovely dinner at a Greek restaurant wherein I ate a lot of delicious and salty cheese and roasted vegetable dishes. Becca had bought tickets to hear the Albany symphony play at this restored theater in the city. They played American composers, one of whom was in attendance (and about 9 feet tall) and it reminded me how enjoyable I find symphonies. It is fascinating to watch as well as listen and I had an incredible time.

We went back to the M home and the "kids" went to bed while "adults" stayed up watching more Community. Before I knew it, it was morning and my train home was at 1pm. Bridgit dropped me off at the train station with plenty of time to spare and the train home was uneventful and relaxing and everything I wanted it to be. I did happen to notice a girl, probably about 18 years old, just sitting there on the train staring forward. She was sitting in the aisle seat with no one next to her, no book, no magazine, no ipod. Just sitting and staring straight ahead for all 3 hours. It was unnerving.

I got the Long Island Railroad home (it was a railroading kind of day) and my arrival coincided with the end of my friend Dana's date so she called me up and we ended up having dinner and lest you think it was a boozeless weekend, I had three glasses of pinot noir with dinner. Dana told me all about her date and assorted online dating goings on, the football game on blast behind us. All of it was rather sleepy and foggy after three glasses of wine, so much so that I forgot to leave a tip to our server, necessitating Dana return on her way home to explain what a damn fool I am. The SHAME. I'm glad only Dana was there to witness/take part in it. And now of course all of you.

Monday was a bit hectic with goings on that kept me from going to work but all was resolved by the end of the day and Wednesday intercalates itself into the long, long week that is happening right now. Right now people!

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