Crossing the ravine.

It hit me the other week as I prepared for our brunch guests to come. "I never see my old friends anymore," I said to Chris. "I never see anyone that I studied with - the lit people and the French people and the Muhlenberg people."

It was a crappy thing to realize, especially since it has been a quiet social shift.

Last weekend while Chris was home in Wisconsin, I went out to dinner with my college friends. Becky came over for cookies and Kelley stopped by for dinner and hanging out. It felt like a breath of fresh air from the past, a reminder of sturdy friendships to push up against and rely on. I had needed it.

We attend a weekly Lost dinner party with a small group of friends. Have I written about that before? I can't remember. We're all somehow related via our work, though the group also includes spouses and fiancees and friends. Every Wednesday we gather for potluck dinner at one of our apartments. We eat appetizers, we have the meal, we watch that week's episode. Then we gorge on dessert while we brainstorm theories and catch up on life.

Last night we hosted and since Lost was a repeat, we sampled another show. We've all agreed that we'll continue our weekly tradition after Lost (somehow) wraps its crazy self up at the end of May. After our guests left, we spent a few minutes cleaning up the kitchen and then we crawled into bed.

"I'm so glad we have this reliable social interaction every week," I said to Chris. He agreed.

I thought about it more this morning as I walked to work. It felt good to feel another sturdy friendship plank solidifying, strong enough to stand on. It's as if we build social bridges throughout our lives; each new social group starts as green wood and we learn with time if it will hold our weight. It's important to maintain the strong planks that came before, but the new building... that's the only thing that's going to get you further out across the ravine.

I've been thinking a lot about vacation for this summer. I essentially have two options: a trip to Europe and... wait for it... a trip to Iowa. Europe trip is obvious. London or Paris or Budapest to see old friends, to continue my connections with the whole foreign part of me. A week of catching up, of investigating English history now that I've discovered a new obsession with Queen Elizabeth, of crepes and Nutella and demi-peches.

But Iowa with its summer writing festival. I'd go for a week, 7 days of workshops, stay on the campus and meet other writers. It reminds me of Middlebury, of a summer spent on an empty campus, of uniting with new friends who match me. There's a large part of me that wants to keep rolling on this writing thing, that realizes that my opportunities to drop my life for a summer week will become increasingly more difficult the longer I wait, both financially and logistically. If I want to go, this seems like a good summer to do it.

A new plank? Fortifying the old ones? How do you decide?


-Debbie said...

We've spent two summers at the Writing Festival and will go back. Love Europe and traveling abroad but the experience of connecting with writers and would-be writers was phenomenal. I vote for Iowa for the summer and Europe in the fall :-)

ev said...

i double-vote for iowa! europe is always there, and you need a little shaking up!