Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Day That Celebrates Friends

I have decided that I love Fridays at work, for the reasons that you'd expect, but more because it's fairly quiet around the office.  We used to have a lot of Friday classes in my department, but then when cuts to the Fall schedule were demanded, many Friday classes were cancelled.  In the past, when our numbers were different and we had to add extra sections, I often could only find classroom space on Fridays.  But now, life is different at my school.

I know that I shouldn't like a quiet day.  It means we don't have student demand, and we know that this trajectory leads us to a place we don't want to be.  But for now, I'm enjoying the peace.

Yesterday was a surreal day in ways I can't quite articulate.  It wasn't unpleasant; it was the kind of day when I looked up to say, "Wow!  Where has the time gone?"  In the morning, I met my friend and colleague in the library, which was also deserted.  We could set up in the small computer lab and work beside each other, with several computers devoted to our project, with papers spread out, and we disturbed no one.  We don't have much space like that--and an added bonus, the windows which let in so much light. 

I had one morning interruption, but it was delightful:  a student hand-delivered his CLEP test scores so that he could get credit for French class.  Sure, we don't teach French, but he could use it as elective credit.  His dad was along for his errands, and both of them were delightful and patient with the process, which involved forms and copies and policies.  In the end, it was a fairly easy matter to settle.  I love problems that are easily solved.

In the afternoon,  I worked on some additional paperwork as I completed one faculty member's annual review, did some filing, and some copying.  I went back to the library where it's movie afternoon on Fridays and Wednesdays.  I got some popcorn, while Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds played in the background.  I remember the first time I saw the movie, somewhere back in the mists of undergraduate school, where I was simply baffled by the attack of the birds and the lack of an explanation.  Now it makes more sense to me, nature gone berserk, and we can't explain.

I finished the day by going over to my church's parsonage for a wonderful dinner and some worship service planning; I wrote about that event more extensively in this piece on my theology blog.  It was wonderful to gather around my pastor's huge dining room table for a delicious homemade meal and fellowship with good friends.

I started the day writing a blog post about friendship, and I ended the day enjoying time with those friends.  I felt the little bit of frustration that I always feel, the wishing that we could do this more often.  Not for the first time did I wonder what it would be like if we lived closer to each other. Could we organize our lives around a communal meal that happened more often?  Could we eat together once a week?

But of course, that's not our lives, and so we got into our separate cars and headed back to our individual houses. I took some time to remember that I've tried communal living before, in a single house, which came with a wide assortment of blessings and frustrations.  I dream of land and small cottages and a central communal space where we'd have meals and board games and creative projects in process.

I drove home on the alert for Halloween lights, and I saw a house here and there decorated. I thought back to my first trip to Mepkin Abbey which coincided with Halloween and All Saints Day, an interesting juxtaposition in any setting, but especially in a monastery.  As the darkness fell, I'd see monks in the distance, in their white robes, and I'd think about ghosts and Klansmen.  I've tried to write a poem that captures these images, but never been successful.

As I drove to dinner, I was listening to an NPR piece on the afterlife, so my thoughts of Mepkin led me to thoughts of a later trip to Mepkin, where my friend said she had a strong presence of her father in the chapel.  I asked if it was a good experience or scary, and she said it was enormously comforting.  I feel a poem bubbling.

I want to feel poems bubbling more often.  I feel like I've fallen out of my poetry habits, and I need to get them back.

Today we have a friend coming over to help hang sheet rock, and later, another friend will bring Texas cornbread to say thank you for helping her move a few weeks ago.  My gratitude for good friends will continue!

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