I can get as caught up as anybody in the “busy-ness” of the everyday. I have a list that scrolls in my head from the time I get up in the morning, and I readily admit to a feeling of great satisfaction when I have whipped that list into submission. Little check-mark-fireworks go off in my head as I tick everything off. Writing? DONE! Queries to agents (big “yuck” here!)? DONE! Dinner prep and laundry and working out and volunteer work and errands and the card I needed to write and emails on which I needed to catch up…? Done, done, done, done, done, done and done!
I even admit to the slightest bit of irritation when something interrupts the roll that I’m on. Even when that something is a friend needing a favor or a document that needs some quick editing—yep, the slightest bit of irritation. Then, I look at that imaginary list, re-prioritize, re-organize, and I’m off to the races again.
Sometimes, though, I do take time out. Perhaps I should say that sometimes I take the time to do something deliberate, with the people I care about. I’m not talking about my family, because I am pretty good about finding quality time with them. I’m also not talking about planning big social events. No, what I am talking about is to simply be with friends—to simply be. I don’t believe I do this often enough; but, when I do, those moments just light up my life.
This is what I did this past weekend, with four women friends whom I have known and loved for quite some time, ‘though never quite long enough. We had something of a “girls’ weekend in” as none of us had the budget leniency to go on any adventures. (I will add that, as adventures go, our October trip last year to Hocking Hills on a cold and rainy weekend dampened our enthusiasm, as it were.)
So, we had a girls’ weekend in. We took turns making meals for one another and each of us who cooked did the cleanup, allowing all of us moments to fully relax. We talked in ebbs and flows—easy conversation made all the more comforting for its occasional silences and meanderings. We passed around grandbaby pictures (none here) and doggie pictures (also none here!). We talked about other friends on adventures or facing hardships; we talked about those we’ve lost over the last year. We talked.
We did go on one outing, to the Holocaust Museum at the Cincinnati Museum Center. For those of you who don’t know, this is at Union Terminal, an amazing Art Deco building erected in 1931. When the terminal was newly opened, my mother, at the age of six, took a round trip train with her parents from Dayton Ohio to the terminal, eating lunch there before returning home. Every time I go there, I can almost see her, her brown curls flying about her face, the echoes of her feet tap-tap-tapping along in her Mary Janes.
None of us had been to the Holocaust Museum. It was at once reverent, touching, and introspective as we each sank into the stories of the Cincinnatians who had experienced it. We were also so taken with the last part of the exhibit—an exhortation assigning each of us the responsibility to never let genocide happen again. We murmured to one another—one friend, knowing my sensitivity, did some checking in on me from time to time. We experienced, within that safe bond of friendship, a taste of the horror and of the hope, of unspeakable loss and miracles and redemption.
Afterwards, we sat in the terminal’s celery-tiled ice cream parlor and feasted on Graeter’s with one another—a silly indulgence to lift us away from the bleakness. If there is anything more decadent and lovely than ice cream in the middle of the afternoon with good friends, I don’t know what it is.
We took the time, and it was so worth it. The one-dimensionality of my lists gave way to the richness of these friends whom I love and value so much. It gave me time for laughter and sighs and silliness and stories and lots of new memories.
Sometimes, it seems so frivolous to take that kind of time. But, oh, it is so worth it. It is a way of reconnecting with the beauty in our lives when our eyes can occasionally glaze and pass over. It is a way of embracing all that we are and all that we can be—and being the richer for it.