I talked in my opening blog about different paths coming together in curious and unexpected ways. Few things in life delight me more, than a moment when these convergent threads cross, connect and intertwine.
Kathryn retired recently. I went to her retirement party. I wanted to celebrate the moment with her, to share the bittersweet moment, yet I wanted to do something more, for a classy lady who went from stranger to colleague to friend. I wanted to find the words to articulate, not just emotions and feelings, but a truth about life as well.
During the time leading up to Kathryn’s retirement, a writer by the name of Marlena De Blasi, held me spell bound as I read, ” A Thousand Days In Venice”. The closer Kathryn’s retirement party came, the closer Marlena came to leaving Venice with her new husband. What Marlena shared of her experience, liberated the muse in me to seek the words I needed to say to Kathryn.
Kathryn is a class act. To give you an example: I am not the world’s greatest speller, and thank god you don’t have to be to write, and thank the powers that be for spell check. However, spell check can’t read a writer’s mind. I had been writing about by visits to the dyke to walk my dogs. Spell check never caught my incorrect spelling of dyke as dike. Kathryn did.
This is how she alerted me to my error. I paraphrase here,”Nick, you know about me and kitchens, but I enjoyed your blogs about the walks on the dykes, I could really feel the weather.”
I sat up as soon as I saw that line and went, oh no! Then I started smiling at the subtle correction. It was pure Kathryn, and one of the things I love her for. She could tell a guy his fly was down and everything was showing, without embarrassing either party. I mean you have to be damn good to do that!
Kathryn’s way is always quiet, firm, unimposing yet uncompromising.
We worked together for ten years as part of a special team of managers. The different threads of all our lives came together for a brief moment of time, and together wove a spell that all of us will carry forward for the rest of our lives. We, every one of us can, point to that period as a definition for the word team. We did not always agree, we suffered upsets, and defeats, we occasionally yelled at each other, but we always came back together again. And, we knew how to laugh at our own follies as much as anyone else.
Camelot is a vision you can only see in retrospect. There is never a Camelot in present time, only in the past; an irony of life. We lived in Camelot. We lived in Camelot partly because Kathryn played the calm and serene Queen to the rest of the rowdy pack of knights. Oh Kathryn got angry, and emotional, like the rest of us, but Kathryn’s special talent is her ability to rise above the storm and show everyone else the more rational path.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your disposition, the world changes. The threads part and move on. Thankfully the friendships gained, remain.
Marlena left Venice a day after Kathryn’
s retirement party. The emotions of ending and beginning again ripple the deep still waters. Marlena wanders Venice like a ghost lingering amid the shrines too sad to leave yet eager for the new life, in another place, another time. Trepidation and the sense of adventure fight within her. Her trivial resonates with me as I struggle to find those special words.
A retirement party seems so inadequate. We have an ending and a new beginning, the end of one saga and the start of another. The enormity of the moment gets lost in the mundane. I can only hug Kathryn and wish her well and make plans for lunch, actions which fail to express my joy at all those thousands of shared moments of laughter and pain, joy and sadness, anger and exhilaration, passion and compassion; all the many many rich and rewarding moments that make a friendship.
Marlena De Blasi quotes from an old Yeats poem which I repeat here because it fits so well into the context:
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.
Now for the difficult part: finding a recipe for Kathryn who is not shy to admit that the kitchen lives in a very mysterious place in her house, where she ventures only in dire emergencies.
Marlena rides to the rescue again. (See what I mean by threads!)
Lemon Ice Cream with Vodka and Sparkling Wine From “A Thousand Days In Venice”
½ pint of lemon ice cream or sherbet
4-6 Ice cubes
4 ounces of Vodka
I cup of sparkling wine
Shredded Zest of one lemon.
Throw all the ingredients except the lemon zest in a blender, blend until thick, pour into iced wines glasses, sprinkle on lemon zest, and serve with spoons.
Celebrate in style, girl!
From the bottom of my heart, all the very best.