|Motel breakfast on the road!|
This is a long blog so if you choose, bring a cup of tea and meander with me as I try to make some sense of our summer vacation.
Weaving together the travels and the many people that we saw is a story that I hope to tell, in some way exploring the interconnections and many parts of my life. It will not be chronological and may leave out people (not on purpose) as I attempt to make some sense of it all. I think the bottom line is the fact that I am a networker and part of the fun for me is the organizing and planning before the actual gatherings. I know it is a gift that I have – to connect my family with my friends, and my friends with my family and each other. How wonderful for me to share all of this with Richard and now to mix our friends with both of our families. This was the essence of this summer.
|Frankie in Chapel Hill|
|charlie....in chapel hill|
Travel from one place to the next
So we begin driving north with car packed with clothing, a few food items and popcorn. It is our ritual to eat a bag of popcorn on long travel days…it is something we do and both enjoy and it helps to pass some of the time. We also love to have a book on tape and this year we listened to “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” – a great book combining science with history and human interest – highly recommended by both of us. We are vagabonds and proud of it. I know it is not the way for everyone and we understand that. Through this lifestyle, I can notice the things that are important to me. I always have more with me than I need, and I am working towards having less and less but accepting the idea that it is OK for me to have some of my favorite things – clothing, jewelry, shoes….it is OK. I often berate myself saying that I should travel with less….”should” by whose standards. I am working hard on allowing myself to be me – no one else, and that “me” is who I am! In each home, whether for the night, or for the week, or the month I find my reading/writing spot, ritual of tea in the morning (Richard brings it to me), my space for whatever stuff I have – always in some organized manner for myself. This is the ritual part that allows me to be able to live this lifestyle. I think if I were not the organized person that I am, it would be nearly impossible. Richard has much less need to have his “stuff” in the same place and always to know where everything is…so we learn and lean on each other. I do not think we could live this lifestyle alone – it takes two of us to make it happen this way.
What is home?
What is home? Clearly to us it may be different than yours – it is a place where we can have all our stuff – whatever that might be at the moment – now…a few suitcases and bags. In Mexico, – a bit more (in storage as I write) and of course our “home” in Carrboro, NC - a building that we own. This year we spent time and money fixing it and getting it ready for the next renters. Is it our home? Our stuff is there – in the garage (we managed to reorganize all of space in the garage to give the new upcoming tenants 1/3 of the space. The last tenants had none.) Sometimes when I see how most of the rest of the world lives I feel a bit “odd”, but in reality it lasts for just a few moments and then I am so grateful that we have the flexibility and love of travel which allows us to keep exploring new dimensions of ourselves and the world. I suppose, like organizing the interconnections of friends and family, the challenge of planning our future travels and house sitting arrangements give me a thrill as well. Where will we be next year at the same time? Quien sabe? (Who knows?)
Family/Friends – is there a difference??
|Most of the family at Cape Cod|
|Herman in NYC (going on 101 years old)|
Two days later we met Herman in NYC – a cousin at 100+ years of age. What a treat for all 3 of us. He had such great stories of Granny and life in Germany before the war. I keep thinking that one of us should visit him with a tape recorder or video to capture stories we will never have again. Our visit to NYC also gave us the chance to see Max (nephew of Richard) from N. Ireland who is now living in NYC – making his way in the world. A contrast from the over 80, 90, 100 age group to this 20+year old. As the oldest in my immediate family, but without children, I still question my own age – and glad that our friends/family encompass 8 mos old to 100+ during our 2 month visit in the US.
|"WVOGEL" coming to you live from|
Brewster, MA! Orion arranged
this skit including all the f/f.
|Laurel and Marylee at Moosewood|
Restaurant in Ithaca, NY
So… is there a difference between family and friends. The only thing I can say on this is that I look at the difference ONLY as blood or marriage as family and the rest are friends. However, in my opinion there is no difference as our family are all our friends and our friends feel like family – all those that we saw on this trip – as they represent people who are close to me in so many ways, throughout my whole life. Henceforth, I will use f/f to mean family/friend. I have had conversations with f/f's about “What is a friend” – and, I suppose there are different levels of friendship. For me, an f/f is someone I can depend on in many situations, who accepts me unconditionally, whom I accept unconditionally and who I like to spend time with. You all know who you are – I saw you this summer.
|weaving my mother's side of the family|
with my father's side - in Boston, MA.
|My "sibs" - I love you guys!|
|The 3 children of Lotte -|
Rolf, Yvonne and Daisy
|With Brucie in Wilmington, NC|
|Joanna, Stephan, Sophia and Julian|
in their pool on Long Island
And, we also spent time with many of Richard’s family – Long Island and in Wilmington, NC. We also keep in phone contact with many others of his family. I see as I am writing, that because my family meets together in one spot as a ritual each year, the connections seem greater as a larger unit but in reality, we do spend good quality time with family when in small groups as well.
Other f/f connections are Marilyn’s (Alan’s wife) – many of her extended family live in Trumansburg/Ithaca and we were able to spend time with them as well – a gathering for her niece Nancy’s birthday brought everyone together for a night. Their family does not need the ritual once a year reunion as they are all living in close proximity and therefore are all part of their larger community. In Ithaca is also the “sharing supper” f/fs – a group of friends who gather every week in the summer for dinner at Lake Cayuga. We have joined them at many times, when we lived in Ithaca and when we visit – more friends that are like family.
Back to friends again for a moment – I had the chance to meet with 4 girlfriends that I worked with for many, many years on Long Island through the 70’s and 80’s. We connected through Facebook and met at a bar for drinks and it was if we were back in time. Each of us had different memories of our work life and all the others we worked with and we shared laughs and stories of this life together. Now as the connections were made I am enjoying even more the visits into their lives through Facebook. This visit was on the same day as we were visiting with long time f/f Janet and staying with her in Huntington, NY. We reconnect each time we are together as if we had seen or talked yesterday.
|Janet in Huntington|
|on the porch at Michele's|
|H.S. f/f Joan and Nancy|
Other f/f connections of the past were meeting two of my good high school friends in Boston. The fact that we graduated 49 years ago is not even imaginable – we are still kids and girlfriends to each other. This is another example of the difficulty of distinguishing between friends and family. Joan, Nancy and I have seen each other once each year for many of the last years and hopefully will continue this tradition.
In Chapel Hill we attended the Community Church of CH Unitarian Universalist which was our “home” for many years – I worked there, and it was our main community of friends. It felt good to go back and reconnect with so many that we know – reminding me how important community is.
Here is another great weaving together of f/f. I was with my quilt ladies from Chapel Hill - "The Worker Bees" in January and we worked on a quilt to donate to an organization that my sister Nancy works with in Albany - "Camp Erin". This summer we finished the quilt and I brought it to Cape Cod for the camp this fall - weaving together service and f/f's. Speaking of service - many of my "peeps" helped to support me in several of my San Miguel projects - Libros sin Fronteras and the gathering of fabric for the Mariposa project. THANKS to you all.
|with Pauline/Michael and Nancy/Rick in|
|The quilt for "Camp Erin"|
There were several difficult moments this summer for some of our friends. Several days after leaving Mexico we heard the terrible news about our friend Antoineta’s son Eddie in SMA. He was hit by a train and after several weeks of surgery he died. It was hard to be away from the community during this time but we were included in many emails about what was happening. This was a true example of a good reason for a strong community which came together to help them with love and financial support. There are continual reminders of the importance of community during times of both joy or sorrow.
Our prayers are still with a good friend Joyce and her husband Ralph on Long Island. We visited Joyce in the hospital the night before her heart surgery and she is slowly recovering many days later from several complicated procedures. Our friendship goes back over 30 years and we have traveled and visited with them on many continents. We love you Joycie!
How can I tie this together???
All I can say is that my past has continued into my present and hopefully my present will continue into my future. This is possible only through the witness of friends that form a thread throughout my life. May I always be a good friend and as I am, will know that my friends will all be my community as the months continue to years. THANK you my "peeps" for traveling with us, supporting us and loving us.