Scarlett’s Letter August 25, 2013

I had a nice leisurely morning, after my self-inflicted, sleep deprived night, Friday, and my incredibly long day on Saturday, even a decent night’s sleep when I got home from the airport at nearly midnight, didn’t quite rejuvenate me. Nor did a couple cups of coffee. But, a leisurely morning did.

I have no groceries. Well, I do have two eggs left, but I’m not quite ready to consume eggs, again, just yet. I have yogurt, but no fruit and my organic veggies are all a bit wilted. I do still have that organic heirloom tomato I bought at Whole Foods in Chicago and transported home in my computer bag. So, for breakfast, it’s Wallaby organic plain yogurt, local organic honey, oatmeal and, by now, a kind of squishy, misshapen tomato.

I spent the better part of the morning compiling my “Two Hours in Chi-Town” video, time I enjoyed tremendously. There’s nothing like a little creative endeavor to completely kill several hours of time.  In a relaxing and rewarding way, of course.

This afternoon, a barbecue and get together with the “Napa Girls”, their sig others/spouses and an assortment of offspring. My sig other and my offspring are all thousands of miles away, so it was just me. But these girls have been in my life and dear for longer than anyone else, including my sig other and my kids. Other than my parents and older relatives, of course, I have known these girls longer than anyone else. Through thick and thin, through triumphs, trials, tragedies, tears of sorrow, tears of joy and, best of all, tears from laughter, other than my sweetie and my family, these are people that matter. There is absolutely nothing better that I can imagine than a sunny, late summer afternoon sharing food with good friends, looking at old pictures, sharing stories, new and old, laughter, a tear or two, and hugs. Of course I had my camera with me, so, yes, there were staged photos. What can I say? It’s what I do.

Great for a summer afternoon; Sex on the Beach, then Prosecco.
Great for a summer afternoon; Sex on the Beach, then Prosecco.
Good food!
Good food!
Homemade chocolate cake and some "Bunny Tracks" ice cream.
Homemade chocolate cake and some “Bunny Tracks” ice cream.

In going through the old photos, though, I am reminded of all the times I wasn’t there. Often, in high school, throughout college, and during much of my marriage, I was less frequent with my visits, I missed much of the time they spent together. Regretfully, I was always the girl that spent more time with her boyfriend, and later, her husband, than with her friends. It took a lot of reflection, again, regret, and some maturity to figure out the toll that has been taken. I feel I’ve missed much. And there is no way to ever regain that time. There is a time for being with the one you love, and there is time to be with your beloved friends. They are not, nor should anyone ever lead you to believe that they are mutually exclusive.

It is vitally important to you, to your friendships and even to that all-important relationship, that you maintain those close friendships. We must remain individuals, we must remain ourselves, even in a long-term, committed relationship. It is a tragedy to lose oneself in a relationship because you lose more than just your individuality, your identity, your freedom and your autonomy, you risk losing your friendships, too. I overheard a couple of young college-aged ladies chatting, one mentioned to the other that Friday night was always girls night and Saturday night was always with her boyfriend. While a rigid, inflexible, set-in-concrete, schedule may not always be practical, I was impressed with the commitment to her friendships. True, some friendships come and go, as do relationships, especially when younger, but, like with many things, those we invest in usually rewards us well beyond our investment. But we must invest; time, love, sincerity, and energy. Friendships fade and even disintegrate if they are not nurtured, much like romance in a relationship.

In my senior year of high school I dated a young man who was extremely jealous and possessive, he didn’t trust me to spend time with my friends, though I was quite trustworthy. While frustrated, I allowed this to continue for a few months before moving on. How much of my senior year did I miss out on because I permitted that kind of control over me? Regrettably, plenty, and I can never recover that time. Young or old, we should never forfeit our friendships, our freedom, because someone is distrustful of us. There is no room in any relationship, friendship or romance, for distrust. Another lesson learned.

In college, I dated a young man, from my hometown, a little over an hour from where I went to school. Weekends were spent at home to visit him, most generally. He also had a close group of friends and was very, very good about setting aside “bro-time”, as it is referred to these days, time with his friends, without the girlfriends. Though, a time or two, I found this a little frustrating, usually when my friends were all otherwise occupied and I ended up staying home alone on a weekend night, I, truthfully, respected it and honored it. To this day, he maintains those friendships across the miles and through the years, much like I do, now, with my friends. There is wisdom in that, and, again, great reward. Friendships are precious, and, often, as we get older, harder to find.

I am very good about meeting new people, I can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I can connect quite well with people, initially, but to create lasting friendships, as an adult, is a lot more difficult than it was when younger. I’m sure my vagabond lifestyle complicates this some. I’m also quite sure that the fact that my co-workers, all being “remote” employees, like myself, are scattered around the country doesn’t help. Often friendships develop at work because you spend a lot of time with one another. I work alone about 95% of the time, from home a portion of that, and the rest, on the road. I see my co-workers, perhaps, once or twice a year. There is not a lot of opportunity for close friendships to develop.

For these reasons, and for so many more, too many to count, I am grateful for an afternoon like today. Quality time with cherished friends.

 

Friends for all of time - then.
Friends for all of time – then.
Friends for all of time - now.
Friends for all of time – now.

 

 

Scarlett’s Letter July 26 – 28, 2013

I am such a lucky girl. I don’t count my blessings nearly often enough, and I count them daily. I have a great family, my mom, my kids, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, and many departed family members I am grateful to have had in my life as well. I have many friends and many acquaintances, all of whom I cherish. I have a good job, a good career and many talents. I have my health and my fitness. I have a special someone to love who loves me in return. I have so, so much to be grateful for, I have not yet begun to account.

Of my friends, I have a group of friends I have known for nearly “all of time”; a couple of us have been friends since kindergarten, the rest joined us along the way. There are five of us and we were nearly inseparable in high school. I am so happy to still be close to these “girls”. We may not see each other as frequently as we’d like, but we will always be close. Some are closer than others, with the demands of careers and families and the division that distance and absence can cause. But we are all still close.

This weekend we had the good fortune to be able to spend the weekend together at a villa in the Shenandoah Valley wine country in Amador County in northern California. Being Napa girls and with connections in the wine industry, this wonderful opportunity was made available to us. It was as if time had never passed, and again, as though it had been ages. We talked and shared stories, reminisced and laughed not just over lunch, as we try to do every so often, but for the entire weekend, beginning late Friday morning and ending late Sunday evening. Just the five of us; no kids, no spouses or significant others, no Internet and not much of a cell signal. It was a retreat, really, in every sense of the word, and a time I will cherish for the rest of my life.

We talked about all the things we used to talk about; the guys we dated, who did who, who may have been first to “lose it” (still unclear), other friends and acquaintances, and all those stories of our youth. We shared pictures and we took pictures. We talked about more current topics; health, husbands, movies, music, careers, the triumphs and the tragedies of life and of our dreams. We floated in the pool, played outrageous card games and a little tennis, watched movies and ate fabulously. There was a winery at the end of the driveway and we didn’t even make our way there. Every minute was spent just being us. It was magical.

And in spite of challenges in life that we face, some serious health issues, career challenges, joblessness, financial trials, marital strife, not a tear was shed. There was only joy, laughter and the undying support that only lifelong friends can understand.

All I can say is, if you have friends that you don’t see as often as you’d like, or if you’ve lost contact with friends you once held dear, make every effort to reconnect, or to reconnect more often. When we are blessed with such friendships, we need to give them some priority. It is vitally important to have time apart from those who occupy our daily life; spouses, children, parents, co-workers. Reserve time for those whose friendship you held dear before spouses and children and the demands of family and career. Amidst all the daily demands of our life and what seems like so little free time, it is so very important to retain our individualism, our autonomy, and occasionally, our freedom from the life that dictates the ordinary day. We become ourselves again when we are removed from that which occupies our daily life in an almost robotic repetition. We are refreshed and rejuvenated by our renewed sense of self that only a separation from daily life and the bonds of friendship can provide. To fortify our sense of self strengthens who we are for the rest of the roles in our life. Make it a priority, and often enough to make a difference.

Dear friends are the truest of blessings. Cheers.

Villa D'Oro (Terra D'Oro Winery)
Villa D’Oro (Terra D’Oro Winery)
Inside the Villa D'Oro
Inside the Villa D’Oro
The plan for the weekend; red wine and sun hats.
The plan for the weekend; red wine and sun hats.
Red Solo Cup
Red Solo Cup

We made it! To graduation! And now to 50!
We made it!
To graduation!
And now to 50!
The most famous picture of us of all time.
The most famous picture of us of all time.
Reliving history.
Reliving history.