Friday, August 6, 2010

(More) Musings on Friendship

There are seed bugs infesting Tucson.  They are little black things, and they are at every doorstep, inside every hallway, sometimes managing to get to the ceiling and crawl around up there, too.  They are slow, and easily removed, but they are unusual enough to get people talking.  The Plant Clinic hot-line at the Master Gardeners' office has been inundated by queries about these little guys, and so the resident entomologist was consulted.  He identified them, attributed the omnipresence of these nymphs (early stage of bug-ness) to the unusually wet winter just past, suggested sweeping them up if they presented a problem, and urged us to become one with the bug.

Seriously.  I thought I'd left Marin behind.  Apparently, this is a man who has never met an insect he didn't love.  Become one with the bug..... not likely.  As we weeded and perspired in our Xeriscape Garden this morning, we Master Gardeners considered the consequences of bug-one-ness.... and we laughed.


Pilates The Seal , 
© Bruce Thomson, EasyVigour Project
I left the gardeners to their watering and went on to pilates.  It's a companionable group of regulars and I fit comfortably in the middle of them in almost every way - height.....ability..... age..... attitude.  The teacher could make much more money if she focused on her private practice, but she likes us too much to leave us and we're too cheap to pony up for personal training,  so there we are, two or three mornings each week, sweating on our mats, laughing and groaning in equal measure.  The instructor taught pre-school in a former life; it's not much different for her with us.  After all, we are grown-ups who bark as we roll on our spines in Seal, clapping our feet together like the pinnipeds we pretend to be.  Sometimes we don't bark loudly enough and she must reprimand us; we just laugh harder.

And then it was on to lunch.  Aged Parm and I hit it off much better than either of us expected, I think, when her son and daughter-in-law introduced us last week.  She couldn't join us for Clown Romeo and Juliet last Friday night, so I caught up with her at noon.  She chose the new place, willing to take a risk with me, and we drove and ate and drank prickly pear lemonade with endless refills at Cafe Tremolo, downing tuna sandwiches as we talked about the sorry state of California's economy and their gubernatorial race and our local elections and the intricacies of playing bridge (her game, not mine) and a doctor we know and love and then I dropped her off at her new digs and came home to you.

It's been a day of friendly encounters.  I've been digging in the dirt and sweating my abs off and discussing the ins and outs of communal dining arrangements and I realized, as I pulled into the garage with a big smile on my face, that I am making a community for myself here in Tucson.  My mistake, I think, was in assuming that I would be able to replicate the closeness that I left behind in Marin and in Chicago just by arriving in town.  I forgot the initial loneliness and the strangeness of living in a new place.  I made the mistake of forgetting that mores change with the longitude and latitude.  I reminded myself that while every Chicago mother knows by January 1st what her children will be doing the following summer, in Marin those plans are made during the last week of school... they were on Marin Time and it lacks a certain urgency when first encountered.  But, over time, I began to go with the flow, and while I wouldn't say that I relaxed, it could be argued that I became somewhat less neurotic.  Here in Tucson, I've been struck by the fact that I have made friends who exist in every decade of life - 30's and 40's and 50's and 60's and 70's and 80's and now, with Aged Parm, 90's, too.  This has never happened to me before.  It speaks to what I like most about Tucson - a live and let live attitude, that is not judgmental about clothes or cars or much of anything as long as you are polite, a place that accepts differences with a so what insouciance and then moves on to someplace with air conditioning.

Each of my homes has been different and challenging and ultimately each has made me smile.  I've made friends and explored being myself in Chicago and California and the desert southwest, mixing and sometimes blending but always watching and noticing.

And maybe that's the answer, the bigger thing about friendship: you find a place where, as with the seed bug, you are one with the other.

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