Leaping upstream with tree frogs, crickets, Gordy and musical friends

As the rabbit said in Alice in Wonderland, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” Not to say that I am rushing, but the meandering has turned into steadily plugging away or as a friend wrote me this week, “At this point you must feel like a mighty salmon struggling up a 10,000 mile river trying to reach her spawning grounds in Seattle.” This feels so appropriate at the moment that I laugh at the analogy and hope that I won’t have to die after I spawn!

I pulled into Peoria to see Sarah, a friend from Seattle that moved back to her home state of Illinois five years ago and has since re-married. I was anxious to meet her new man, see the changes she has made in her home  and catch up on every little detail of her life since last we met. She and I have always been kindred spirits, meeting years ago doing community theatre musicals.

Knowing that I only have a day or two to spend in one place the quality of my time is condensed so moments are escalated meaningfully right from the start. No time is wasted, it is like concentrated laundry soap, you need less but it’s more potent (I’m washing my clothes at this moment so the analogy is pertinent). Seeing Sarah again, we were off and visiting without hesitation. She took a half day off of work Friday to spend even more time with me. This was such a lovely gift. If you ever want to make anyone feel special, do that, ‘cause I felt cherished and important.

Her husband, Chris, was so gracious and kind and let us gab away, then spoiled us and took us to the swankiest restaurant in town, Jim’s Steakhouse. Established in 1960, I couldn’t help but imagine Frank Sinatra sitting in the bar with a few mafia guys smoking and drinking ‘til dawn. It was all dark wood paneling, dreamy landscape paintings, with black and white photos on the walls of all the famous people who have dined there. The food was AMAZING and after dinner we moved into the bar sitting at the piano where Gene has held court playing for over 25 years. It’s hard to describe but it was like stepping back into another era, it only needed Sammy Davis, Jr. to enter the room with cigarette in hand, sit at the microphone and sing “That Old Black Magic.”

Saturday we went downtown to breakfast then walked around the farmer’s market, buying fresh corn for dinner, which would be the first corn I had this season.Yum! I floated in Sarah’s pool ALL AFTERNOON, telling her my worst faults and secrets and having her love me anyway. The backyard was like an aviary with songbirds twittering away and swooping around from trees to power lines. I needed this day to do nothing and I even fell asleep on the raft in the pool!

I haven’t mentioned another key player in Sarah’s household, Gordy. I fell in love with Gordy. He was the sweetest, most gentle dog, and I ate up his devotion. I couldn’t get enough of those brown eyes and tail wags, I guess I was needing the snuggles, and he somehow knew it.

And every night there was music. Chris is a fabulous musician, having played bass in bands forever, but he also plays guitar, piano and ukulele and has his degree in voice. He pulled out his guitar each evening, singing with cricket and tree frog accompaniment under the twinkling stars. He and Sarah sound amazing together and it was a joy to sit and listen to their harmonies and chime in myself when I felt like it. It was a beautiful thing to see a couple share the intimacy of music and feel included in the magic.

I slept in a puffy princess bed, laughed, told my truth, drank Chardonnay, played ukulele, held a dog on my lap, and was serenaded with Dan Fogelberg music. Pretty awesome. As I left Sarah had wrapped up a present for me with a sweet card. Inside were the beautiful earrings that she wore the day before that I admired. She wanted me to take a piece of her away with me. I took more than a piece, I took a bushel full of memories that float like bright firefly lights in my heart.

Stay happy, make music, stay in love ‘til the end of your days.

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