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Of Dining and Ring Tones

Because a drive to clean up immediately is not something I wrestle with, I will often leave a messy table until the next morning. It brings to mind the Gardner Museum, which during my time there, hosted the Program for Creativity, mirroring Mrs. Gardner's passion for bringing together different kinds of creatives. There was a photographer, film maker, grandchild of the Eameses, and an Italian curator of furniture or perhaps specifically, chairs. One of the "final projects" was a re-arrangement of the chairs in the Little Salon, creating a feeling that a party had finished and all had just left. It is of this that I'm often reminded when being greeted the next morning, temporal remnants of feelings that have quickly become memories.

Someone from Israel told me this, but then maybe it was someone wearing the blue of the Israeli flag, or who had an Israeli intonation to the way they spoke: clearing the plates messes with dinner party juju. Last night a community took shape, allowing time to stand still, as we saw and listened to each other without distraction, a beautiful and fragile ecosystem. I was both a part of it and an observer, watching for the first person to look around and get fidgety, at which point I clear. We talked about mothers needing care, how to make aging easier and the importance of friends.

The morning I was leaving the Room Darkening Shades hotel in Amarillo, there was only one elevator working for the many guests who had taken advantage of the hotel's three free drinks per adult and hot breakfast for all offerings. While waiting in a NY frame of mind, I noticed two guys with big Ts on their baseball hats and t-shirts settling in to a relaxed and friendly debate. While one thought that leaving his cell phone ringer on at highest volume was necessary so that his kids could always reach him, the other replied that he always had his phone with him and could feel it vibrating when a call came in from his kids. Back and forth they went, deep in conversation, listening to each other, pondering answers, providing technical information (they were Android users), telling cell-phone related stories, replying respectfully to each other's differing opinions. While I admit to at first oozing judgement, it became evident that this was their way of connecting with each other, ignoring the elevator issues and being present in a way that eluded me. In that moment, I was able to understand how much of life I miss by being in a hurry and vowed to take tiny steps to change. As cliche as it sounds, it is those small moments that add up to a life and I forget that way too often, hurtling as I am towards some undefined deadline I'll likely not meet.

I am grateful for last night's fragile ecosystem, for allowing me the luxury of connection and presence. It was a great reminder about what I want to be hurrying towards.


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