Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Winding Roads With Old Friends

My first boss and mentor at ASU, Dr. Bernie Jackson, said birthdays were not a good measure of the passing of human time.  He preferred the term 'age-days', those unpredictable twists in life when you arrive at a point where you feel that you're in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.  They've been rare for me, but when it happened I felt time as if it were a tangible substance.  My generation would call it being in the moment

Most of us recognize those passages after they've happened.  A shift in perspective may occur, not so much in values or what interests us, but in how we view ourselves in the broader context of the world. With this usually comes acceptance; that's the age-day.  My trip to the East Coast for the ILBA solidified my recent age-day for me, and my friend Susan played a pivotal role.

My plan was to visit her in New Hampshire for three days and then spend four days in New York doing what I usually do while there: plays, dining, drinking, galleries, art and more art.

Susan and I have known each other for over 30 years.  We started at the same executive recruiting firm in Beverly Hills, and along with another team member, split from that business and formed our own company.  This after a little over a year in the headhunting biz.  I was the instigator, but Susan was right in there with me.  If you looked at the two of us back then, you might of thought we were a mismatch.

                                          Nice Girl  vs  Trouble

In many ways, we couldn't be more different.  She comes from a close-knit family, albeit one with a few kinks.  Still, her family dramas could be shown on network TV whereas those of my family could only be viewed on late night cable.  Susan is friendly and outgoing and makes friends easily.  I'm shy, but forced myself to drop my reserve during my business years.  My natural temperament suits a writer's life, but my "acting" extroverted permanently fractured that protective shell.  I'm a combo now. During this visit, I discovered more of the ways we're the same.

In her last year in the business, I became pregnant and got married.  Susan was my only  significant female friend in L.A., and she threw a baby shower for me.  Her mother was there, another woman who worked for me, and two of Susan's friends.  It's because of Susan that I was able to experience a normal event in a woman's life.  That sisterly gesture comes easy to her.  Susan is a community builder, a comadre. I mostly just try to pass for normal.

With Susan at Pine Point, Maine

A cocktail with a comadre would be nice here.

Susan came back to L.A. once in the intervening years. She remarried and had a son. We met once in Reno where she was attending a conference, and I've been back to visit her two or three times.  I've always enjoyed country walks and never get tired of looking for moose.  The weather turned cold. My shorts and flip-flops remained packed while I snuggled down inside borrowed fleece.

Moose Alley

This time she took me to the National Forest Bog, which wasn't like an Irish Bog (my only other Bog experience) with mummified remains in it, or so thick you can dig up the peat and burn it. 

 This is a lookout at the bog.  I think you hide in here and use binoculars for birding.

Clouds reflected on the surface of the bog. 

A Lady Slipper, an endangered flower thriving in the bog.

Susan drove without the dictatorship of a GPS.  She grew up here and knows the loops, short cuts, and back ways.  Conversation flowed.  We had quiet, comfortable moments.

Mommy and colt

Across the street is the shot I really wanted.  An abandoned house.

I wonder what stories the ghosts who live here might tell?

Susan and I in North Conway. White Mountains behind us.

So where is the age-day here?  My self-realization didn't arrive until New York, brought home by a young Serbian bartender whom I taught to make a skinny margarita and the Polish family sitting at the bar with me.

Next stop, NYC:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

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