Saturday, March 30, 2013

Getting to know old friends

As I do not have a computer and must use my phone for today's slice, it will be less linked than usual.

Tomorrow is the last day before the last march begins. In the school year, Spring Break is the last pause for breath, the final chance to push, cajole, kid, compliment, or sometimes castigate. The end of the year is in sight, and so the momentum slows. Our students lose focus, as do we at times, as spring promises summer and our energy flags. But between us and the summer lies our last chances to learn before testing season and finals leave us wondering how we got here so quickly.

Most years, I spend the last weekend frantically sorting ideas and prioritizing. In truth, I will do more of that tomorrow. But, today, we met some old friends for a day away from our respective lives. In a place none of us live, we met to go to a play none of us had ever heard of, have dinner, and catch up.

Eric and I have known Jim and Pam since before we married. Eric and Jim met when they both lived in the enlisted dorms at Langley Air Force Base on 1997. At the time, Jim and Pam, high school sweethearts, lived several states apart. Eric and I,  soon-to-be-reunited post-high school sweethearts, didn't actually get back together until 1998, and married in June that same year.

When Eric deployed in July 1998, it was Jim who took care of Eric's townhouse and his cat Abi because I still lived in New Jersey and hadn't begun looking for a job closer, yet. When I moved to Virginia in October, Abi moved in with me in Manassas (the closest I could find a decent job) while Jim and Pam coordinated their wedding and her move from Ohio to Newport News. That's right...I've lived with the cat for longer than I've lived with Eric.
Abi, wondering why I'm disturbing his nap.
Jim, a flight line guy, got permission for me to be in his truck on the line when he guided the plane Eric and his unit returned in. Thanks to Jim, not only did Eric and I not have to worry about maintaining two households for 5 months, I got to see Eric the very first moment he stepped on American soil since a month after our wedding. Even though I couldn't get out to greet him on the runway (I didn't have flight line clearance!) and Eric didn't even know I was that close, I won't ever forget what it felt like to see him safe with my own eyes.

In the last months Eric spent in the Air Force, he lived with Jim and Pam during the week, and came to our townhouse in Manassas on the weekends until he finally went on terminal leave in June 1999. Soon after, Jim and Pam were stationed in England, and we didn't see them until Jim came back to Newport News a few years ago and got out of the Air Force himself. It's tough to get together, but we keep in touch.

About a month or so ago, Eric and I got away for a weekend and went to see a production of Julius Caesar at the American Shakespeare Theater and stayed in a local bed and breakfast nearby. We loved the production, and  immediately thought Jim and Pam would enjoy this getaway. The day we got home we suggested to them that we meet here, a place that's about 2 hours from each of us. This weekend was the first weekend that worked, so I made room reservations, arranged for tickets to The Custom of the County, a play written by Shakespeare's successors in The Kingsmen, and dinner reservations.

We have had an absolutely wonderful time.  The play was hilariously ribald and engaging. The cast has us in stitches as they engaged the audience in the play itself and sang interesting renditions of popular songs during the intermission (Nine Inch Nails and banjo...I cannot do it justice in a blog). Jim remarked he had no idea "culture could be so funny." It made me wish high schools taught more Renaissance comedy rather than drama. My students would be delighted by the innuendo so much more than they are with the whinings of Romeo and the brooding of Hamlet.

Since we met here an hour or so before the 2:00 matinee, we have stopped taking and swapping stories long enough only for the production itself. The four of us enjoyed a tasting menu and wine pairings at dinner, and a bottle of port and chocolates in the hotel as  we laughed about our jobs, Eric and Jim told Air Force stories, and we carried on as if no time had passed.

Even though I know my "to do" list will clamor all the louder tomorrow, I cannot think of a better way to have spent my day. All of us agreed we needed this time out from our routine. Tomorrow morning, we will meet for breakfast before going our separate ways once more, and will probably soon plan the next weekend away. I can't wait.


  1. In time, you will be very glad you spent your day with people you care about rather than your to do list! There will always be chores, papers, closets...the opportunity to special.

    1. There always are papers. Goodness. I'm going to read thousands of pages this year, but I only get a couple of chances to spend time with friends who live far away.

      Thanks for stopping in, Anita.

  2. THIS is the stuff that life is made of. You definitely made the right choice. And... I can't believe you did all this writing on your phone. Impressive!