Posts Tagged ‘Deb Tombers’

Letter From Claverack 06 11 2017 Returning to hygge…

June 12, 2017

It is delightfully quiet as I sit on the deck, the fierce heat of the day receding and all the noise of the city left behind.  About four o’clock, I returned to Columbia County from four days in the city, a delightful time, packed with adventures and sights and people.  And I was glad to return to the quiet of the cottage and knit it all together.

The occasion of my trip was that it was my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding anniversary.  They were married in New York four years ago and return every year to celebrate.  Last year, I was absent, selling books in Edgartown, on Martha’s Vineyard.

dessert

This year, I was present.  On Wednesday, they went for a private celebration of their anniversary while I had dinner with my wonderful godson, Paul Geffre.  We had a wonderful dinner and then went to the Parker Meridien for after dinner drinks with Joe and Deb, who had not met him.

Joe, Deb and I went, over the days of the visit, to the Intrepid, Ellis Island, the site of the deadly Triangle fire, to “Spamilton,” which Deb and I enjoyed more than Joe as we got the Broadway references.

JoeandDeb

As I type, the Tonys are being broadcast and I am not watching.  It seems more important to gather myself together after these hectic days, wonderful, full of visiting and fun and feasting and I’m sure my waist has expanded and I must handle that.

Today, after Joe and Deb had left for the airport, I brunched with old friends from California, one of whom has residences in both places and Meryl and Ray, who were in for a visit and work for Meryl.

Before I met them, I had a quick coffee with my bestest friend, Nick Stuart [Lionel, you are more than friend; we are family of choice], and we spoke of things and we talked about how I have been working on living in an “attitude of gratitude,” appreciating the good things in life and not yearning after what I don’t have and celebrating what I have, which is quite, quite wonderful.

Deb and Joe gave me a wonderful book about hygge and I laughed at getting it because I have been writing about hygge ever since I heard about it and, gosh, don’t we need it now.

hygge

At this moment, I am having a very hygge moment.  Sitting on my deck, the creek is calm, birds are chirping.  My neighbor’s dogs are romping some distance away.  Far away there is a sound of a truck traversing the road a third of a mile away and I am not caught in the cacophony of New York, which is wonderful and now wearying for me.

When I was moving to DC, I lived for a time in an apartment in Georgetown, across from Dumbarton Oaks, and thought: wow, Mathew is getting to live in some of the great cities of the world.  That has continued.  And now, in the third act of this life, I am always glad to return to the quiet and the hygge of the cottage.

At dinners and brunches, we all discussed the political madness of our time, which is, at least to me, the most serious since Watergate, and all wonder how we got here and where will we go.  The Democrats are in disarray; the Republicans fleeing or feeding the strangeness that is Trump [the kindest way I can describe this presidency].

The Clinton impeachment was a distraction, a hounding of a serial sexual player who didn’t want to admit in public what we all knew.

This is not a distraction.  It is serious.  This is Watergate level.

Theresa May in the UK, having lost [and it is almost impossible to believe she did] her gamble to get a greater majority to support her Brexit negotiations, was described tonight in some UK papers as “dead woman walking.”

Macron, in France, has seized the government in a way no one has since De Gaulle [I think] and we have a new day there.  Angela Merkel looks to be re-elected in Germany.  The political scene is exciting, if more than a bit scary.

 

Letter From New York 10 12 15 You can’t go home again, even if it’s nice…

October 13, 2015

It is 7:30 PM and it is dark already. I’m headed north on the 7:15 Amtrak out of Penn towards home after two weeks of wandering. Baltimore followed by Indianapolis followed by Minneapolis and now home. I made a stop in New York and listened as Howard Bloom recorded his podcast, “Howard Bloom Saves the Universe.” Look him up in your iTunes store. He’s very good, very funny and very wise.

Having not had very much to eat today, as in almost nothing, I stopped and got some California Roll from Penn Sushi and ate it while waiting for the train to start its journey north, which it has. I would love to be able to watch the river but it’s too dark, the river is hidden.

Minneapolis is a lovely town. There are an infinite number of things to do in the city of my birth. Often I have described my youth as being what it must have been like to grow up in one of the great provincial capitals of Europe. It has the Minnesota Orchestra, back to making music after a crippling strike. The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, the Walker, the Guthrie, an amazing theatre scene. One Uber driver said to me that in Minneapolis/St. Paul you found a college on almost every corner. Which is almost true.

The city is freshly spruced. Every building looked like it had just been splashed with a fresh coat of paint. Everything was sparkling clean and looked like the glistening city of the future. Unemployment is low and the city is prospering.

But I sampled none of the intellectual delights of my hometown. I spent all my time visiting with people, my friends and family, people that have been important to me over the years.

When I taught high school there I became close to one of the families involved with the school, the Elsens. I spent an afternoon with them at a restaurant. Don is 88 and his force of nature wife, Betty, has been dead now almost ten years. Julie was there as was her cousin Brenda. After Don and Julie left, Brenda stayed to chat with me. She wanted to let me know that I was the only teacher she had in her life she felt “saw” her. I was humbled.

There were long mornings of coffee with my brother and sister-in-law, Deb, and a long and lovely lunch with my ex sister-in-law, Sally, with whom I laughed and cried.

I have deep roots in Minneapolis though one morning, driving to some get together, I also realized that the old phrase, “ You can’t go home again,” is true. I have roots but I no longer belong there.

All was familiar but I am no longer a citizen of that place; I am a citizen, for now, of Columbia County, where I have lived for, for me, a long time. And now I am on the train, headed back to the little cottage by the creek, looking forward to being in that space, surrounded by my things, to be able in the morning to sit on the deck while having coffee and to think about the future and not the past.