This weekend I went out to Albany to visit Dreaming. He’d grown to be a close friend and a big part of my support network, and I’ve missed him since he went back to finish his last semester of college, so I was really looking forward to seeing him.
I also realized as I was driving out there that it was really great just to be driving again. I love driving, and I haven’t been doing nearly as much of it as I used to do. I used to regularly visit people in Virginia, New Jersey, Western Mass, and Ontario. I’ve done a little driving lately — most recently to BiCamp, and a trip to sionnagh’s mom’s house in Connecticut — but not nearly as much (nor as leisurely) as I used to. Basically, my weekends have just all been pretty full (and a lot of my travelling has been by plane to tropical islands, which I certainly can’t complain about). But I need to make more space in my life for road trips.
Anyway, back to our narrative... I got to Dreaming’s apartment in Albany around 9:00pm and briefly met his housemate Lu before we went out for dinner. The first place he suggested was a Mexican place, El Loco, and since I hadn't had Mexican in far too long that was where we went. We walked there (about a twenty-minute walk), so I got to see a bit of Albany and the SUNY campus on the way. The food (and beer) was great and the waitstaff were very friendly and attentive, and very tolerant of us staying well past closing time because we were lost in conversation. :-) And the conversation was great — it was wonderful to get to talk to Dreaming in person again, and catch each other up on how we’d been feeling and reconnect. He is a real sweetie, a good person and a wonderful listener.
In the morning, I got to see the food co-op where Dreaming volunteers (and shops), where I bought copies of Ms. and The American Prospect and discovered that Panda now make carob-flavoured bites in addition to their yummy licorice and strawberry. It’s not as good as the licorice, though. Good thing I got both. :-) Then we went to Lennox, MA (in two cars), for a very pleasant with his mom and stepdad. (Pleasant if somewhat hasty; Dreaming and his mom had to catch a train down to New York for Yom Kippur.)
Dreaming had mentioned to me the previous night that surrealestate was interested in having me stop by on my way home, and I jumped at the chance. (I confess it hadn’t occurred to me; I had no idea of the relative geography of Kripalu and Albany, nor of what surrealestate’s work days are like.) So as D. and his mom went off to catch the train, I went to Kripalu. Cell phone use isn’t allowed in the building, so the only way I had to get in touch with surrealestate was to leave a message on her voicemail, and since she hadn’t had a chance to check it and reply, I had no idea when I showed up if she’d be able to see me. I’m glad I knew she worked in the kitchen, since that information enabled the nice person at the reception desk to track her down, and she said she got off work at 3:00 and would call me then. That gave me about an hour and a half, which I enjoyed by walking around the grounds, having a nice phone call with my stepfather Don (in the course of which I was reminded that yesterday was my mother’s birthday — I’m so embarrassed that I didn’t call her! I didn’t get to talk with her because she was away at a funeral, and by the time I got home tonight and dealt with some mailing list problems it was too late to call.), and reading some more of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel (review), which I heartily recommend — I’m about three quarters of the way through it.
Then surrealestate called to say she was done with work, and I spent a wonderful couple hours talking and hanging out with her. Most of it was spent walking around the quite lovely grounds at Kripalu; towards the end we got chilly and went inside. We talked about all sorts of stuff and had a really great time. She’s there for three months, and I’m glad I got to see her so soon (and unexpectedly!) into her time there. She’s also proving herself to be a good friend and an important part of my support network.
Aside: After sionnagh and docorion moved away in summer of 2001, I was very depressed for a couple years, and did not do a very good job of maintaining my friendships or making new ones. Of course, this was a vicious cycle, especially for somebody as people-oriented as I am. So one sign that I’m getting better, I think, is that I’m doing a better job at maintaining and deepening my connections with friends lately. There was a long time in there where most of my life felt bleak, and when I thought about going to friends for comfort and support, or even just company, it seemed like it would be unfair to burden them with somebody as un-fun as I felt, and I also felt guilty asking people for support when I didn’t feel like I was offering much of it myself. It was weird being a depressed person after years of mostly not being. But over the past year or so I think I’ve gotten largely over that, and the clearest sign of that is that my relationships with my friends feel strong and warm and healthy. Of course, there’s a lot of chicken-and-egg there — a lot of the reason I’m feeling happier and healthier is that I’ve been talking a lot with my friends; I’ve been a lot better about asking for shoulders to lean on when I need them, and part of the result of that is that I’ve been better able to stand on my own. I guess the point of that is that as wonderful as having good friends like Dreaming and surrealestate in my life is in itself, it’s also a symbol and a marker that I’m getting back to being the sort of person who has those kinds of friendships in his life, and that feels really good. (I’m starting to tear up a little bit as I type this, actually.) Thank you to all my wonderful friends, including the ones I only see once in a while, or at long intervals. You each make my life that much more delightful.
So anyway, it was a really wonderful weekend, and one that I hope I get to repeat in some fashion before too long. I got home later than expected, and discovered problems with the mailing list software on my server, so I didn’t end up getting any of the things I planned to get done at home this evening, but that’s quite all right. It sure was a wonderful, refreshing, re-energizing time.