Sunday, January 30, 2011

My dearest, back up in the aerie thinking of you, after a whirlwind trip downriver and back. Waking up from a nap. Not feeling a hundred percent - woke yesterday morning with a scratchy throat that I thought might have been due to vacuuming dust and cat hair the day before, which overnight developed into a bit of a chest cold and cough. None of this prevented me, that evening, from having my fill of kielbasa, ham, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, candies, wine and the rest of an array of delectable party food and libations. When I arrived home this afternoon I went straight out for a walk with weights, as a preemptive measure.

Glad I gave you the window seat on the way down yesterday since there wasn't a riverside seat to be had this afternoon. I had a wonderful time once I arrived, but somehow I'm just not a good traveler, something about an overnight away tends to throw me off. I wasn't feeling so hot to begin with when I got to the station yesterday, in good time before the train was due to arrive. I had checked ticket prices online a few days before, and selected my trips based largely on price - $26 each way from where I live, for an hour-and-a-quarter ride south, to Croton-Harmon. So I blithely tell the station agent my plans, expecting a total of $52. He punches his computer and comes back with - $74. So incredibly exorbitant! I literally didn't even have that much on me. Fortunately D was there, having presciently made sure that I got the ticket okay - he put the figure, the new horrendous total, on his debit card. Honestly, had I known it would be that much - I probably wouldn't have gone. I asked the station agent - what gives? Why the price differential from what I looked up? He impassively responded, Oh we change the price minute to minute if we have to, based on supply & demand. So if 20 people cancel right now the price will go back down. !!!! Say what? I don't know. I've made my peace with this transaction - simply so that I could get on with my weekend - but we're talking about an offpeak winter weekend trip of a little over an hour each way. The lesson I've come away with is to pre-purchase the train tickets in advance - the day I look up the times, before I'm scheduled to travel. Which actually I've done in the past if only to spare a few minutes hassle the moment of the trip. So this bitter lesson has been late but forever now learned.

Okay, venting about this over. But it did somehow put me in a tearful mood yesterday as the majestic train pulled into the quaint little station on the cold winter day. It was a bit of stress I didn't need, along with all sorts of vague, tumultuous feelings - missing you so much, going by myself, feeling alone, looking forward to visiting with relatives yet dreading negotiating the ice floes of topics that don't work for me - e.g., "so - how are you and D?" and the nature of my writing.

My cousin picked me up at the train station in his van, and the two of us, plus his young sons, invisible except for a little voice commanding "Back, daddy, back" - or, "no, forward" - meaning go back a track or five on the Aladdin C.D. My cousin ambled his van southward, giving descriptive commentary of the towns along the way - the maintenance facility at Croton-Harmon ("Want a tour?", he asked with a note of glee. "Not really," I replied - oy vey, there it starts - we weren't even out of the station!), the story of Sing-Sing and Ossining, a stop at McDonalds at the boys' request - don't fill up now there's party food to come, I admonished them. There's a party? their astonished puzzled faces queried. Yes your parents are throwing a party tonight which means all kinds of fabulous party food - so you don't want to fill up on McDonalds. Daddy is that true? Yes it's true. Okay, let's go. Not exactly like that - but close enough. As the little boys ate their pasty cheeseburgers and packet of fries, sure enough my cousin cornered me - so how are you and D? And I know he means well, he's a sweetheart, the biggest heart of anyone I know, truly - but I just can't embark on that subject, but I don't have a smooth line about it. Plus I wasn't feeling well and he noted that I looked frazzled. Which I wasn't happy to hear because I was trying to keep it together - but okay, I'm sure the weary did show a bit on my face. Anyway, we both agreed that we wanted what God deems best - whatever the outcome, as I qualified - and my cousin knew precisely what I meant and we let it go at that. I don't know, we're all fiftyish now and have lived complicated lives - he is very much a man of strong faith - and I have my own strong faith -

I don't know. I'll leave it at that for the moment, my dearests. More tomorrow, on other very nice, wonderful impressions of my visit - I did have a very nice time.

I slept on a made-up sofa in a study last night, missing you so very much, drifting asleep, and whenever I woke I thought instantly of you, wishing you were with me which in a way you were. It is a real comfort for me to think of you. I open my eyes, look across the unlit room at a half-parted shade at one window (light from another house distantly aglow), gauzy curtain at another. I lie under a light down puff on the narrow couch. You are there with me. I whisper your name, stroke your hair, touch your cheek, your lips, imagine the feel of your shoulders, your beautiful chest that I dream of. I feel the press of you against me as we lie together under a quilt on a narrow sofa, and we fall asleep again like that, in each other's arms.

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