Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Where the Glamour Begins

Part exciting, part terrifying, that was my Tuesday. Sometimes simultaneously.

The James River was a roaring beast today when Mac and I braved the pipeline walkway only to find waves lapping near our ankles. Never have I seen so much of the pipeline and several of the little beaches completely underwater, nor the rapids so unquestionably fierce.

At an unnamed restaurant for lunch with Foto Boy, a youngish black server (although not ours) made a point to come over and comment on FB's Black Lives Matter button, thanking him for wearing it and saying that he'd never seen a white person wear one.

Never? Really, Richmond, we can do better than that.

Mine was at home on another coat, but his comment made me realize how inclusive it is to others for me to wear it everywhere I go and not just sometimes. Such a small thing and yet so meaningful to someone else at a time when many of us are feeling shaky.

And why shouldn't we be when our new orange dictator is dramatically scaling back the EPA and muzzling its employees? Every day seems to bring some fresh new terror.

Listening to one of my Christmas presents, the new Pretenders' record, "Alone" - notable because it was produced by young Turk Dan Auerbach so it resonates with youthful energy under the assured attitude and lyrics of Chrissie Hynde - I was struck by her conclusions in the title song.

Nobody tells me I can't
Nobody tells me I shan't
No one to say you're doing it wrong
I'm at the best, I'm where I belong, alone
Yeah, I like it, I like being alone
What are you going to do about it?
And, so, f*ck off
I'll do whatever I want

It's not an entirely surprising attitude for a woman of 65 who's led an extraordinary life and decided that her first choice for company is her own. For that matter, I have woman friends not nearly that old who have already arrived at the same conclusion.

Prematurely, I think.

Now I'm out crawling the streets
With the poets and the geeks and the deadbeats
I'm taking my time sitting on park benches
And all the glamour, it all starts down here
This is where the trends begin
Life's a canvas and I'm on it

But what it immediately put me in mind of is an old Barbra song from her album "Streisand Superman" called "Lullaby for Myself," although unlike Chrissie's anthem, it's told from the viewpoint of a much less seasoned woman who hasn't quite reached those same conclusions.

It's really lovely to discover that you like to be alone
Not to owe your man an answer when he gets you on the phone
Not to share a pair of pork chops when you crave champagne and cheese
And your aim becomes to please yourself
And not to aim to please

Girl power stuff, right? Yet only so far as a young woman is willing to take it.

Self-aware with self esteem
Is selfishness a crime?
I take the day for quite a ride
And I take my own sweet time
Time to spare and time to share
And grateful I would be
If just one damn man would share the need
To be alone with me

As it happened, one damn man was willing to share his tickets with me for the Times-Dispatch's Speaker Series on "Politics in 2017 and Beyond" at the Historical Society, a discussion among the paper's political reporters and columnists that began with an acknowledgement that they'd all badly miscalculated Trump's viability during the series' discussions last year.

Well, them and half the country.

With no need for a pair of pork chops, or even champagne and cheese, ours was a progressive meal with tacos - carnitas, braised chicken tinga, carne asada and marinated grilled chicken - at En Su Boca before tackling political discourse, and desserts squared - chocolate crema followed by chocolate pecan pie - enjoyed with after-dinner drinks (whisky and M. Chapoutier Banyuls) at Acacia once all the analyzing was over.

With little time to spare and always much to share, I razzed him about never having been to the Historical Society before and crowed in disbelief that he's yet to ride the Capitol Trail. And we're friends? He teased back about me knowing someone everywhere we go, as if that were a bad thing.

Our unlikeliest tangent may have been sharing impressions of several homes for sale since we'd both seen some recently, though the open house I'd attended included a DJ spinning soul 45s and his, regrettably, did not. I suppose we can't all follow the music.

Best of all, in the true spirit of poets, geeks and deadbeats, we took time out to consider the malleable nature of friendship.

The way I see it, life's a canvas and I'm on it - with time to spare and time to share. Portion control is key.

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