On the spur of the moment, cutting off the possibility of setting up too-high expectations of myself as a hostess, I invited our closest friends over for supper yesterday. Offered her a glass of wine as she arrived, having left her husband at home watching over the apple pie that had ten more minutes to bake. She looked surprised and said, “Are we at that stage now?” and gladly accepted a blue Hebron glass of Chardonnay, while I decided to work on using up a previously opened bottle of Riesling, and poured a modest amount into my rooster glass. I was thinking I might have to add some honey mead to make it palatable, but it was sweet and mild enough even for me. We felt quite free spirited, even when her husband came along with the pie and some non-dairy frozen pie topping, as my husband led him into a discussion of first century theology and pulled out a volume of Philo.
I’ve written before about how special this friend of mine is–so gentle and kind, so self effacing and giving, so patient. She derives her strength and deep reserves of love from a deep faith in her Lord, a life of prayer and meditation and walking in relationship… which I have not found to have become much a part of my own life at this stage of life. Not in that way or to that degree. I’m in a kind of dormancy there, or holding pattern. During our home schooling days together we were more in tune that way, but even now she continues to share her riches with me in my dry space. The men—completely different personalities—completely! always enjoy getting together too, talking amiably about politics, religion, and family life. In a way the personalities are kiddie corner, with I and my friend’s husband having similar senses of humor, verbal reticence, green thumbs, and placing our trust in knowledge and reason, while my husband and my friend are more heart-oriented. Though with him it is with intensity and a habit of speak first think later, and hers is a meeker version. Passion and compassion?
The oldest son of this couple and our oldest son became friends over a box of Bionicle action figure parts in a dance studio waiting room, then their daughter bonded with my two–she is between them in age. Their next boy became best friends with my youngest, they being within a week in age. Their youngest boy then looped into that friendship as he moved from toddlerhood to boyhood, so now that the oldest are off to college, there are two sets of three friends.
My youngest son cleared the table after dinner so we could play telepictionary, and since it’s the best game ever and not at all dependent on artistic or verbal skill, and with no winning and losing, we all joined in, except the teens, who had other things to attend to. Some of us needed those laughs very much–who doesn’t? But I laughed only so hard that my eyes watered, and did not cry. Truly, I don’t feel that welling up of sadness much any more, which is hopeful, I guess. But I feel more myself with some of my roots reaching down to a place melancholy—feels more real, and for some reason I can recognize beauty and feel joy and gratitude better from that place. Like, I need, need, need to watch that hummingbird do its whole routine, including sitting on the fence and chirping. And I need to respond, just a few words directed to that tiny being. And there’s more need for humor and laughter and music where a sorrow ebbs and flows, and things can only get better, right?
There were a lot of dirty dishes afterward. Two of them were the barely touched glasses of wine I’d poured for my friend and me. We have so much catching up to do on the drinking of wine by perimenopausal women front. Maybe a night at my friend L’s house–she even has friends our age who like to skinny dip in the lake! Those little signs of, what? the crystalization of the non-dependent identity of a free agent that is in a marriage partnership not out of habit, or for the children’s sake, but as the fulfillment of a promise. But, by God, there weren’t any promises not to go on hootenanies or shenanigans with the gals now and again! Talk of an all women dance party with disco ball, a trip out to one of the islands for a pedestrian adventure and overnight, tickets to a big name performance in Vancouver. Interspersed by a paddle around the bay, a walk to the coffee shop in the wild weather, making applesauce together from the windfalls from the neighbors’ trees.
I think I can help find a channel for that sense of fun in my friend. Now that I have more confidence there, and maybe more importantly, my husband—not wanting to hurt or worry him in any way—has confidence in me. Her husband is another story. When she gets high spirited in his presence, he quickly shuts her down–my girls have commented on it several times, and it drives them nuts. Still, I’m able to tease and joke with him in a way his wife cannot, even though she has a wonderful sense of humor. Plus he seems to think that I have her, and his, best interests at heart, so she and I have been able to do a few things together apart from other family members, with his blessing. No, don’t judge him (as I say also to my daughters)–he’s not a control freak in some awful way. He just has an exaggerated sense of his own headship and undervalues his wife’s unique identity and worth in her own right. His positive attributes make up for it, I think. Still iron sharpens iron, so why not?
The leftover apple pie and peach upside down cake was shared out and packed up, the boys were sent out to the car, and as the wind whipped the fir boughs, we said good night, and thank you for the lovely visit. I loaded the dishwasher for the final time that day, tossing down the leftover wine.