Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Giddy and All In

It's been a while since anyone complimented me on my firm handshake.

But that's exactly how the Dutchman in the blue/green house greeted me after I said hello and extended my hand. And that's before I'd even handed off a bottle of J. Mourat Rose to him as a contribution to the evening's festivities.

My partner-in-crime/favorite traveling companion and I were there, in fact, for sipping and nibbly bits (as Pru likes to call them) accompanied by travel conversation - past and future - with he and his artist wife. But that came after admiring the art-filled house they'd completely renovated four years ago - including removing the balustrade from the staircase, turning mere steps into an eye-catching architectural focal point - and her compact backyard studio.

Part of the conversation was about change. Because he was Dutch and part of her youth had been spent in Europe, both carried memories of a time when far fewer tourists crowded desirable destinations. After dealing with massive crowds in Madrid and Amsterdam a while back, she'd had enough (her term was "a meltdown") and was ready to go home if they couldn't find a place less clogged with tourists and selfie sticks.

As someone who refused to even go in the Louvre gallery where the Mona Lisa hung for exactly that reason, I felt her pain. What was astounding was her adoring husband's reaction: he immediately returned all the tickets that had been procured for the remainder of their itinerary and instead found a small village in southernmost Italy for them to spend the rest of their vacation time.

Like any sane people, they were soon seduced by the region, resulting in them now owning a house there. Even better, a house they let out to close friends. And while I didn't yet qualify, my handsome partner apparently does, so for such a devoted planner, this was the kickoff for him to start another planning binge.

When we weren't talking travel, the womenfolk were comparing notes about how we got to Richmond in the first place. I thought I'd had it bad arriving here from D.C. in 1986 and first living in Chesterfield County before high-tailing it to the city, but she took the prize when she shared that she'd arrived in Colonial Heights in 1983. Ye gads.

After checking out the area, she'd promptly driven home to Boston, a reaction I find completely understandable. No intelligent, much less creative, woman should have had to live in Richmond back then and yet here we were: two survivors and glad we'd stayed.

As we got up to go, I was asked about my favorite restaurant (no one such thing, but I do have multiple top choices) but I turned the question on my hosts, who copped to liking Fat Dragon, Bacchus and Galley.

So after we'd said our good-byes, I thought our next stop should be Galley Market so I could deflower a Giustino's pizza virgin while furthering the travel talk. For the first time, I sat at a table among the shelves of groceries, rather than the counter. A Greek salad was followed by a Bianca (yes, I know I'm a creature of habit, but I wanted to make sure his first pie experience was one I could vouch for) and a whole lot of talking about everything. Like we do.

I was especially taken by his assessment of our long weekend in Irvington about how we have more conversation than any other two people would even think possible, much less intensely pleasurable. And he's right.

Walking to the river with Mac yesterday, she commented how my blog posts continue to sound giddy, even as I really do try to rein in my euphoria when blogging. "I love that you're so happy," she told me, cracking wise about my rose-colored glasses.

And it only took 32 years from my arrival in Richmond to get to that beatific point. And if I thought that time flew by, it's nothing compared to the warp speed that's become my new normal. It's like what the late, great Anthony Bourdain said. "Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."

Enjoying. Every. Second.

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