Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vacation friendships and home

There is a poignancy about returning home from vacation. I am glad to be home as I was glad to leave, a balance of emotions and aims.

My intention on vacation was to relax and get away from the chores and duties and reminders of work that surround me every day and follow me even into sleep at times. I got what I wanted: peace and relaxation. I also got more than I asked.

My days followed no particular order or scheme, other than the impetus of the moment. I had breakfast at the B&B in the mornings and tea at the castle most afternoons, and dinner was wherever my wanderings led me, even to the point of not eating a formal dinner and snacking on something picked up on my walks. Wednesday morning was very different. The owners of the B&B surprised me with a birthday cake at breakfast, thus alerting the other guests to the significance of the day. One guest, Rob from New Mexico, chose to offer a more personal birthday greeting and took me out to dinner that evening to an Italian restaurant nearby where he grinned like an idiot when the owner brought out a birthday cake covered with blazing candles and singing Happy Birthday while the rest of the clientèle joined in. We had a pleasant evening and spirited conversation, but I was ready for the quiet and peace of my suite by the time we returned. He didn't intrude on me at breakfast the next morning and we passed in the hall as I headed to the castle for tea. Out of politeness I invited him to join me. He balked at first -- "I don't drink tea. I'm not that refined." I assured him he could have coffee if he chose and he agreed to walk me over in case I needed a strong arm to keep me from falling as it was snowy and slick outside. It didn't take much urging for him to join me and he even agreed to try the tea and was pleasantly surprised. Black oolong has quite a strong caffeine kick; I chose jasmine green tea. I prefer a less pronounced caffeine kick. Tea led to dinner on Thursday and a repeat performance on Friday evening as we were both leaving Saturday morning, he to return to New Mexico and me to return home.

I hadn't intended to meet or get involved with anyone during my vacation, but I am flexible if nothing else. Rob was quite the gentleman and didn't intrude into my plans for relaxation and getting away from work and responsibilities. He had an infectious laugh that broke through my initial reserve as he regaled me with tales of life on a sheep ranch in New Mexico. He promised to write -- real letters -- but I will not believe it until I see it. Men are notoriously inconstant correspondents. He was very handsome and five years younger, but I choose not to hold that against him. As a companion, he was friendly and intelligent and surprised me with his tales of just how much technology can be done from a sheep ranch with a more than adequate satellite hook-up. Technology and nature in one very intriguing package.

The rest of my vacation consisted of rounds of sleeping, reading, lounging in a tub that could have doubled as a swimming pool, napping, reading, fire gazing, reading, sleeping and relaxing. It's just what I needed. I felt positively boneless and limp by the end of my stay, so boneless and limp I booked a long weekend in September before I left. Rob said he had an idea that he would need another vacation by then as well to celebrate his birthday. We'll see. Vacation friendships do not always last, but they are pleasant while they do.

Getting home early, I decided to dive back into my usual weekend chores by making bread that eventually became pain perdu, otherwise known as French toast, finished up some reading, returned some phone calls and acknowledged the many birthday wishes I received while I was away and then planned dinner. I made roasted chicken with a variation on the bleu cheese sauce I make for grilled steak by adding browned mushrooms and capers for the chicken and the baked potato. It was marvelous. I actually missed my own cooking. Imagine that.

Today, I'm diving into the letters, dispatches and histories of Gaius Octavius Caesar, also known as Augustus Caesar, and reading a review book I need to finish by Tuesday, and writing this.

I want to thank everyone who remembered my birthday in their blogs and journals. I did read them while I was gone, but limited my time online to get away from it all. It was wonderful to know that so many people remembered the anniversary of my birth. It was a memorable day for me and a reminder that even though I live alone I am not alone with such friends as these.

Time to take the chicken and potato out of the oven and fix lunch, do a couple loads of laundry and dive deeper into the life of Augustus Caesar and drift with the tides and currents of history for a few hours more until it's time to roll up this day and prepare for my return to work.

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