First, I should tell you the truth: Recently, I used my writing skills, shall we say, creatively to improve the quality of life for a new friend.
He is the captain of a 180-foot ship somewhere on the high seas. It was day 62 for him and the crew, and he emailed and asked me to let him know what I was doing for fun (music, art, food, friends); he said he needed some vicarious living.
You want to live vicariously through me? Ha! Here’s the way my day went: the people who made a contingency offer on my house a month ago asked if they could have this place inspected. So I spent the morning with my realtor in Starbuck’s while my house was inspected. That’s about it from here.
Yes, but that was yesterday and this is the weekend! I am sure you went out for perfect pastries and coffee with friends this morning. Then you are planning a couple of nice activities before you relax on a lawn, listening to some divine live music while drinking bubbly.
Then to dinner alfresco under the dying sun with a large group of family and friends, pets, kids, lots of wine. Right?
I got it. I understood what he really needed. So what to do? Writing can comfort those who need it, or simply want to be transported to another reality. This man certainly was in need of comforting and transporting, and I had the means to alleviate his hunger for the familiar comforts of home, to make this captain’s sea voyage more pleasant, to give his mind something to turn over and ruminate on during the long hours with the water. So there was nothing to do but tell it slant, right?
You’re right, this is the weekend – woo hoo!!
How did you know I have a favorite little French bakery that I frequent on the weekends? Went there this morning to meet friends and have coffee and some seriously delicious French pastry — oh man, just the smell of that place gets my mouth watering. Oh, I wish you could’ve seen how the custard gushed out of the middle of that pastry when I took a bite. We laughed and swapped stories while we kept getting refills of coffee – because no one wanted to leave. But finally, it was almost lunch time, and I had to meet someone. So I walked out the door, laughing, waving good bye over my head back at them, while they had another cup.
I met a friend for a wood stove pizza and an ice cold beer. The temperature was perfect for sitting outside under an umbrella. She’s a writer, too, so we talked book biz and writing, caught up on what was going on in her life and mine. She’s a dear and gave me some tips on promoting my book. Yay!Just got home from that rendezvous a little while ago, collected the mail, and discovered a copy of the New Yorker, so I’m now thumbing through it as I lie on the chaise lounge on my deck in the shade of the poplars, sipping lemonade, with my dog resting on the deck beside me and my cat walking along the railing, when she isn’t waiting, statue-like, for some hapless bird to land in the bird bath and start bathing. I try to warn them, though I know my cat resents it.
Tonight, I’m having a friend over for dinner. Fresh fruit salad, cooking juicy steaks on the BBQ, along with baked potatoes with all the toppings and salad made from greens and tomatoes from the garden. And a beautiful Shiraz. For dessert, I’m making bananas flambe’ (that I’ll serve over vanilla bean ice cream), which I haven’t made in a while, so I hope the flames don’t burn down the kitchen! Then we’re going to see a comedy club act performed by a mutual friend. I haven’t seen her on stage for years, but I remember being in hysterics the last time. I am really looking forward to seeing her and just cutting loose. Hope I don’t embarrass the person I’m with. Laughter is good for the soul, though, don’t you think?
It is remarkable how much our day was alike. I started the day at 6 AM waking up a hung-over crew (I didn’t go to the bar). We moved to the fuel dock and I spent the next several hours in a flurry while we took fuel. Breakfast was oatmeal with cinnamon, raisins, and honey, of course. When we leave port I always take first watch and when that was done I worked out, had berries and yogurt for lunch, then fixed some electrical issues in the Capt’s cabin and dealt with departing crew issues. See? Just the same.
Needless to say I needed a reminder of landlubber life, and your recitation of the day’s activities was just enough to whet my whistle – as well as make me slightly green. If the fates do not allow me to sit across from you soon in your favorite bakery while we have almond croissants, some coffee, and enjoy some laughter, I will be disappointed.
Yes, laughter is absolutely critical for the soul.
Besides being fun to write, I didn’t really have a choice, did I? Have you ever felt that way as a writer? Using your skill with words to create a vivid scene for someone who needed it?
Okay, here’s the truth. There was no French bakery with friends. There was no pizza and beer. I didn’t lie on the chaise lounge on the deck because it was too dang hot. I didn’t have a dinner guest, and the comedy club was a while back. Oh, and I don’t have a dog. Or a cat.
I do have a birdbath.