As I flew home from New York yesterday, my head resting against the window, looking down at the carpet of clouds and listening to Patty Griffin, I thought and thought. I thought about how twelve years ago, I was flying over a similar cloud cover and leaving my 24 year old life in Milwaukee to join the Peace Corps. And the day I left, I was so full of fear and apprehension and longing to be back in the safety of my Milwaukee apartment and easy job and parties and friends all around. But I knew that something needed to change and that I needed something...something real to challenge me. In the Peace Corps I would make friends with people that I will know for the rest of my life. People that are now on the list of those I don't really want to do without.
I was with many of those people this weekend. We gathered together from west coast to east and went to see Harald. You can read about Harald here.
Hannah drove from Chicago to my house and played with my kids and ate dinner with my family. After the children were tucked into bed Hannah made cookies that she has been sending to Harald and that he loves. I made brownies from scratch which he requested. Later on Rebecca and Jenny came and we all chatted until bedtime.
Saturday morning the four of us flew to Albany where we met Steff and rented a red minivan and drove to meet Ryan in Argyle N.Y. at Lant Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast. We stayed here for the weekend and it was the perfect place for our little group.
Before we went to see Harald, we ordered a pizza for takeout (his request). I called to place the order and my conversation with the pizza guy went something like this:
Me: Hello. I'd like to place an order for carryout.
Pizza Guy: Okay, what would you like.
Me: I'd like three large pizzas...
Pizza Guy: (Sounding alarmed) Twenty-four cut?
Pizza Guy: You want three twenty-four cut?
Me: Twenty four what?
Pizza Guy: Twenty four cut.
Me: I dont' know what that means
Pizza Guy: The large pizza has twenty-four pieces
Me: Oh!!!! Well, are they twenty four big triangle pieces or twenty four small rectangle pieces?
Pizza Guy: Rectangle
At this point I look up and everyone is watching me have this conversation, including our B & B hosts.
Me: Okay, we'll do that.
Pizza guy: Are you having a party? Can I come?
Harald is staying in a nursing facility called Pleasant Valley.
Each of us give him a long hug and he readjusts his bed so he's sitting up. We talk, in whispers, so it won't hurt his head and we laugh and make jokes and eat pizza together. Harald takes a bite of one of Hannah's cookies and holds it up.
"These saved me during chemo."
After awhile it appears that Harald has gone to sleep.
"Should we go?" Steff whispers.
"I don't know..." I whisper back.
"I know..." Steff says, "Let's just hang out twenty more minutes and then we'll see if he wakes up again."
"What if he is still sleeping in twenty minutes?" Rebecca asks. "Well..." Steff says, "then we'll reassess at that point."
We all kind of giggle, quietly. Then we notice that Harald, who's eyes are still closed, is grinning. "I can hear you." he says.
We all laugh.