Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mere Dots in History

Of course we went shopping on Monday & Shelley made potato salad just because. Brian & Fredi went to the park and Fredi ran manic circles around the other dogs who came over to see what she was all about. Brian talked on Skype with his friend in Holland and they caught up with each other. In between a friend dropped over to give us a CD he'd copied. We'd figured out how to extend supper for him, but he had already made a dinner date. Shelley read & computered & read some more & watched TV and all in all it was a pleasant quiet day.

There was another cooking class scheduled for Brian on Tuesday afternoon/evening. This time French. Once again Fredi stuck to Shelley like glue while Brian was out; watching her in her bath, lying on her during TV time, sitting next to her during computer time, etc. Her loyalty would be greatly appreciated if Shelley didn't know she'd be deserted as soon as Brian stepped through the door.

Upon arrival home, Brian was quite excited about having learned some new culinary niceties. He was particularly pleased that he had learned a couple of basic sauces, and also reported that the evening was as much a social occasion as a cooking class. The instructor's boyfriend is from an old-time Cuenca high-class Spanish family and he regaled the company with tales of his youth, being shipped off to the United States by his father and making a success of his life in the U.S. Brian arrived home slightly tipsy because of the camaraderie, good fellowship and perhaps one dollop too much of vino tinto. He was quite excited about the cheese soufflé and a rustic chicken & veal pate.

When we first got together, Brian & Shelley, having each failed more than once in a relationship, set up a few rules to help us through our darkest days. When we lived on the boat, we always showered together. The shower was tiny and the water came from a tank, so it presented an opportunity to have genuine togetherness & also saved water. The ultimate rule was, no matter what, no matter how tired, no matter how cranky, we'd cozy & cuddle in bed at the end of the day and talk about...well...whatever came to mind.

These days that one cuddle-time has grown to three. Brian has his bath every morning and after his bath he likes to lie on the bed and dry off. He calls out "I'm done" to Shelley and she comes and lays with him and we talk about what happened when we were 5 years old, and the difference between trees in Ecuador & Canada, and whether Fredi (who always comes and cozies too) needs a brush or not and other not-so-important stuff. Later in the day, towards the end of Brian's nap, Shelley puts on a pot of coffee and goes and lies down with him to gently wake him up. Sometimes Fredi & Brian are already playing "blanket". A complicated game that involves throwing the blanket over Fredi and her finding her way out. Sometimes they're still fast asleep and Shelley wraps herself around them both and by the time the coffee is brewed the grogginess has faded away.

Lastly, there's night time. Shelley usually goes to bed an hour or so before Brian. She & Fredi read (well...Shelley reads & Fredi naps) until Brian has watched the news or the movie he's interested in, or channel flipped until he's felt ready for the end of the day himself. Brian then crawls into bed and groans. That good groan. That thankful to be lying prone and have reached the end of the day without disaster groan. Shelley & Fredi creep into the crook of his arm, head on his shoulder & stomach & we all lie quiet for a time, thinking our own quiet thoughts or simply slowing down.

We all, Shelley, Brian & even Fredi; have other times. Other times of intimacy. All these times are very precious to us. They provide a special kind of peace which eases harsh memories and lingering regrets and they become mere dots in history.

Friends invited us over for dinner Wednesday evening, so we spent the day doing much of nothing and headed over to their place for 5 o'clock. We mistakenly buzzed the apartment of some relatively new folks we've met and they confusedly let us into the building. Upon arriving at their door we explained the mix-up and they graciously showed us their new apartment. It was absolutely wonderful! Finally at our correct destination, we were served meat balls & spaghetti with a side dish of fruit. There was wine & good conversation & garlic bread & more fruit & ice cream for dessert. It was a lovely evening and we quite enjoyed ourselves.

Friends are a funny thing. You make them, you nurture the relationship, you get into arguments or disagreements and for some this makes the friendship stronger and for others you discover there really was no reciprocal relationship there in the first place. Shelley recently had a friend de-friend her on FaceBook.

"Are you upset" Brian asked her?

Her answer was "No, more like sad".

Shelley had quipped less than 10 words at this person and knew the next morning she'd be defriended and wasn't surprised. We're talking about an almost 40 year relationship. Perhaps FaceBook is the way to determine these things. It's bloodless, bold & cold; you know exactly where you stand. With a click of a button you've been de-friended. It's much better than a slow withering on the vine thing, not quite ever knowing where you stand.

At a time like this, with all the new friends we've been making in Ecuador, one wonders which, if any or all, will stand the test of time. We have a strong feeling that the shared ex-pat experience nurtures friendships more quickly. In any event, we're enjoying ourselves and wish all well.


  1. Yeah. Cuddle-time. For us (for 32 years) it's been "spooning". Glad to see it's working for someone else, too.

  2. Your posts always make me laugh, cry, and sometimes both -- like this one! Thank you for sharing such intimate, thoughtful and revealing posts about life, relationships, and friendship. Yes, it is true that cross-cultural relationships stand the test of time. We know that to be true because of our six years in Italy. There's a bonding process that takes place in another country. As far as Facebook; well, all I can say is I have a love/hate relationship with it. I've actually seen it destroy families. If that's the case; I'm not sure that it is a good thing. I love you both and I've never even met you, but somehow I feel that I've always known you! HUGS!