Friday, February 24, 2017

Living for Right Now

We're having a heatwave, despite the calendar still reading February.

I'm not saying that because the mercury hit 74 degrees, but because today was the first day that my lipsticks should have spent the day in the refrigerator like it was June, a fact a girl only discovers once she's getting ready to go out and finds them softer than ideal.

Now that I think about it, they may have warmed up driving back from the Northern Neck - where I'd gone today to visit my parents - with the windows mostly down.

I'd gotten a late start coming back because Mom and I decided to walk down to the dock, past the two weeping willow trees she tells me have just burst into leaf the past two days and wound up sprawled in an Adirondack loveseat discussing life.

And death, as it turns out. An article in today's Washington Post "Heart to Heart: The Conversation You Least Want to Have with your Aging Parents May Be the Most Important" was the starting point, but like so many conversations with my folks, there was a fair amount of laughter, too.

When I mention how hard it would be for Dad if she should die first, she waves off the problem, saying with a smile, "Oh, you don't have to worry about that. He won't last long once I go!"

I'm not sure if she means this because he's never had to fix his own food (at 8, I once found him crawling around the kitchen floor looking for where she kept the cold cereal and had to show him which cabinet) or because he'll wither away from a broken heart.

Telling her I'd just seen "In the Heat of the Night" at the Byrd for the first time last night, we dished about her memories of the award-winning film's impact at the time and about what a handsome man Sidney Poitier had been.

A tangent from there about how I've never seen "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" had her telling me about Spencer Tracy's speech in that film about how, despite his age, he remembers with absolute clarity his feelings for his wife when they first met and fell in love and how true love endures through the years.

"He was really talking about the love of his life, Katherine Hepburn," Mom tells me with absolute certainty, although certainly with the wisdom of her own experience as well. How she recalls this particular scene after not seeing the movie in decades is beyond me, but now I'm determined to see it myself, knowing that Hepburn and Tracy were long-time lovers.

The levity returns later on the walk back to the house. Surveying the two sheds full of Dad's crap and the crumbling grape arbor, she says, "I already told him when he looks down from heaven, none of this mess will be here!"

How often do you get to have an end of life discussion and get film recommendations in the same afternoon, much less riverside with waves lapping at the sand?

Once back in the city with my half-melted lipsticks, I managed to apply them before strolling over to Graffiato to meet a friend pre-theater.

Arriving first, the bartender welcomed me back and re-introduced himself, amazing me since we'd met the first week of January when he'd obligingly served a brown liquor-drinking friend while discussing distillation methods and then completely forgotten to take my drink order. For 15 minutes.

The good news is, being ignored guarantees you'll be remembered on your next visit.

With a nod to my birthplace and an appreciation for housemade ginger beer, I was drinking a variation on the DC Mule out of a copper cup when my friend came rushing in, Christmas present in hand. Once she got a pretty, pink Paloma, it was a race to catch up with each other's lives in 35 minutes so we could make a curtain.

What always happens when we try this is that I'll ask her what's been going on in her life and she'll rush through a few highlights and then insist on hearing my goings-on. Tonight, she was particularly fond of the symmetry of the trip to Cuba story, but saved plenty of enthusiasm for the good stuff and an Italian sausage pizzeta.

We didn't shut up until we headed across the street to the November Theater for Cadence Theatre's production of "Violet," another in the Acts of Faith series.

Although I was already happy being with a long-time friend I don't get to see nearly enough of, I got more fortunate still right off the bat by winning two tickets to Cadence's next production by having my seat number drawn from a bucket.

I'm lucky
I can walk under ladders
Yes, I'm so lucky
That I'm as lucky as me

I don't think I've ever been disappointed by a Cadence production and tonight kept that streak alive with a play that managed to marry high spirited musical numbers channeling gospel and country overtones (and the crack five piece band right onstage with the actors) with a poignant story about a disfigured girl looking for more conventional beauty and a big dose of self acceptance.

That it was set in the deep south in the 1964 during the Civil Rights movement only continued the thread of so many of my outings lately. That I'd gone from watching handsome Sidney Poitier last night to almost-as-handsome Josh Marin tonight was no sacrifice at all

First you choose your road and then you take it.

As an entry in the Acts of Faith Festival, Violet's story about who chooses to love her and whether they do it for who she really is or not provided the real meat of the play and enough to justify a post-theater discussion at Quirk afterward.

The bar at Maple + Pine was full, more than a few tables held diners and staff whisked new guests and luggage to the elevator as we grabbed a bar table and settled in to dissect what we'd seen over Prosecco and chocolate pecan pie.

"Please indulge!" said the server who dropped off the goodies.

In the dessert? In a soundtrack that included Tame Impala and The XX? In the bustling scene as the bar emptied and filled back up again?

All of that and more. Mostly, we indulged in conversation about the challenges of choosing your road and allowing yourself to take the right detour if it presents itself.

Hint: it doesn't always go through Cuba.


  1. you're pretty lucky you still have your will be a different world when they're gone. Enjoy ever moment...