Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Words on a cozy day

If there are ever days designed for staying indoors if you don't have to go out, this is one of them.  The sky is leaden, filled with water liquid and solid, both of which forms are now falling upon the landscape simultaneously.  The temperature isn't expected to climb out of the 30s.  This house, its inviting glass facade designed for more temperate conditions, struggles to remain comfortable.  The electric bill covering mid-December to mid-January testifies to the fact that our heat pump has been running almost non-stop.  The lovely fireplace, designed mostly just to be that, lovely, does a little bit to remove the chill but sends most of its heat up its flue.  So today we are socked in, dressed in fleece and soft woolens.

But this is only one day.  Most of the time, though the air is still cold, the sun is bright and it invites us out to survey the scene.  And life itself continues to bring smiles.

Yesterday we made the last major purchase that will be done with funds from that hard-earned home equity loan:  a new engine for our boat.  It's a state-of-the-art machine with less horsepower than the old one (which came with the boat when it was new in 1995) but as much or more get-up-and-go because of improvements in technology.  We should be able to do what we always did in the boat, just more quietly and efficiently.  The biggest treat will be for our neighbors and the wildlife with whom we share this space:  huge clouds of oil smoke will no longer billow from our dock when we start our motor.  We felt like we were driving a floating jalopy down the river whenever we started up. Now, with its new seats and engine, the boat is like new.  We should be able to take longer trips without fear of engine failure or breaking the bank on fuel.  

We have made friends with another gay couple here, both natives of the Albemarle whose roots trace back to the original English settlers and even the local native-Americans.  This is a welcome event and, to me, surprisingly significant.  We are in no way exclusive in our choice of friends--indeed, our closest friends tend to be childless couples more-or-less our age, hetero and otherwise; we seem to have the most in common with them.  What we enjoy most in social life is diversity, and this was something of a discovery, possible only  in this new place, where we have found the pool of potential friends to be overwhelmingly white, straight, and older.  The homogeneity here made us appreciate--understand, even--the diversity we left behind in Arlington.  Our little street was a smorgasboard of people white, of color, straight, gay, young and old.  Columbia Pike, the commercial drag a mere stroll away, is a bazaar of multi-ethnic groceries and dining opportunities.  We have come to miss that vibrancy, that stimulation.  So meeting somebody here who is "diverse" like us is a welcome development.  And these guys seem hungry for new blood--they are very clear that they want to cultivate our friendship and we look forward to getting to know them better.  We are honored, really, because they are rather famous here for the quarterly "Prairie Home Companion"-style entertainment they write and produce--a showcase for very impressive local talent--at their venue, The Onley Place.  They are confirming for us the impression we already had:  there are gay people around here but, as with other sensitive personal considerations, such as politics, nobody is in your face about it.  They just go about their business like everyone else, just happening to be, in this case, gay.  We find this very comfortable because it's exactly the way we've lived our lives all along.  We hope we can build a critical mass of gay people around us and then mix them with our "built-in" friends--our white, straight, old but wonderful neighbors--and be one happy group.  We want people of color and of different cultures to be a part of the mix, too--they may be harder to come by here, but our doors are open!


nan said...

Loved reading this new 2011 post chronicling the transitions! Keep in touch, Ralph!

Beth said...

Beautifully written Ralph. Thank you for sharing.


Anonymous said...

So nice to read this post. It really does sound like the perfect boy type retirement; playing in the woods when weather permits; and traveling the rivers in a new boat. If it sleeps two you can virtually hang out anywhere. We took the old cabin cruiser to Savannah from here on one vacation and it was wonderful except for the bad weather in the Intracoastal coming home. But Savannah is a city of art and the architecture goes on in time to include colonial townhomes with Jefferson reading rooms. Oh if I had the money! Good post today Ralph, thanks and be happy with your new friends.

Lonely Rivers said...

Wish you lived on my street! Seattle by nature embraces diversity - neighborhoods are populated by a variety of races, preferences and combinations. We've got the mix - yet living in a "young" building I am finding that the very interesting people who live all around me don't see much in an old lady with gray hair. Never thought I would become invisable! Love that you are doing your part to encourage community among your new neighbors!