Today marks the start of a four-day weekend for us. Yes, today is a vacation day and I write this from the comfy chair in the living room. The French doors have been swung open and the room is full of light breezes, birdsong, and freshly-brewed coffee.
So what to write about? The 4th of July? Nah, that's been done before. I can find some protest music and go on about how the day means different things to me. I can also pull out some "patriotic" music and get my American exceptionalism freak on (which I think would require a rubber mask) but no, I've got better things to do. (Besides, the resultant comments stream will be so predictable.)
How about longevity? The passing of time, maybe?
We went out to dinner last night to kick off our little break. There are a surprising amount of choices around here, especially for such a rural area, but when we're nearly out of physical (check!) and mental (double check!!) gas, we always end up at this local Italian joint. There's something very comforting about it. Nothin' fancy, with decor (if you can use that word) implemented with rough-hewn wall planks, local artwork, paper placemats full of advertising, and a list of "specials" presented on small cards that were laminated years ago. Friendly, is the word. The waitresses have worked there since the beginning of time, the bar is made to look like the 19th hole, and the owner gives you a nice "Hey there!" as you walk to your table. Dang, he's been wearing that same pair of suspenders for as long as I can remember.
The food is consistent, if not particularly spectacular. Spectacular is not what we were after though, it was comfort. At home I would never make garlic bread with garlic powder, but for some reason I like it this way here. You wouldn't find this salad on the cover of a foodie magazine, but it was just was I was looking for. A small dish of baked ziti and a glass of Chianti got vacation going in the right direction. It's sort of like having dinner at your favorite aunt and uncle's house.
Over dinner, Me and TheWife™ were talking about how long we'd been together (about 16 years) and how that time seems to both stretch and compress depending upon how you look at it. We can't believe it's been that long (the "time flies" thing), since the details of getting together are as fresh as yesterday. But hey, 1994 ain't yesterday, you know? On the other hand, so much stuff has happened over this time that it's hard to imagine it all fits into those years. I'm always amazed at the emotional range of our experiences, which go from tear-inducing joy to spirit-crushing sadness. There are some things that have come to pass that I surely could have done without, but I wouldn't have wanted to go through them with anybody else.
And now…the coffee and the music. For some reason, Beyond The Missouri Sky has taken over Pat's New Chautauqua as my go-to recording for moments of reflection. These old friends pour every bit of their years into these songs. When I listen, I hear the big sky, openness, sadness, optimism, love, and the passing of time. What more can you ask for?