I went to Italy for lunch today.
Actually, this is a picture of part of the Olive Garden menu. I was meeting my friend Kathy for lunch again, our monthly routine.
I kind of lost a bit of guilt I've been carrying around for awhile. Two months ago, Kathy had to change our lunch date. She had a meeting to go to, so we would have to meet an hour later than usual. But I forgot. I sat there for 20 minutes, decided she had forgotten, and went ahead and ordered lunch, ate, and left.
I was on the freeway when the phone rang and it was Kathy, who had just arrived, at the appointed time and wondered where I was. I still feel guilty that I didn't turn around and head back and sit there with her, but I didn't think of that.
So when Kathy didn't show up 15 minutes after the time we were supposed to meet, I called her, but she had forgotten. Fortunately she works just 5 minutes from the restaurant, so she was there in abut 10 minutes. In the meantime I ordered bruschetta for an hors d'oeuvre, which we never do. It turned out we didn't touch the bruschetta, so I packed it up to bring home to Walt.
But we had a very nice lunch, as we always do and we will meet again next on Valentine's day.
In the evening we had a phone call from a friend we had not heard from in about ten years. His Christmas card had come after Christmas, and as it does every year, it just come with his signature. He moved away from this area about 20 years ago and his only contact information was a post office box number. We never knew his phone number. He had been quite close to us, but he is also a rather odd duck and so we kind of accepted this wall he'd put up.
But each year when the cards come, the only time he communicates with us at all, it bothers me that we know nothing about his life. A mutual friend has told us he's fine and that he does not use e-mail, so he is not reachable that way.
This year I used a little Catholic guilt. I sent him the print version of our Christmas letter (which comes without photos) but included a note that said I hoped he was well, and that it had been more than 10 years since we had a clue about what he is doing these days.
So last night I picked up the phone and there he was, sounding just as he had the last time I talked with him. We laughed a bit about how long it had been and then I said "So what have you been doing for the past ten years?" (I guess I had forgotten that this was the guy who, many years ago, when he got involved in genealology sent out, for his Christmas letter, a 10-page very detailed story of everybody in his family that he had uncovered back many generations.)
What he has been doing over the last 10 years is Gregorian chant. Lots and lots and LOTS of Gregorian chant. Singing it, arranging it, teaching it, going to workshops, sharing with others. He talked for about 20 minutes about all the Gregorian chant he had been doing, and all the places where he had gone to meet with others who are doing Gregorian chant, the changes in the church, the Pope's latest word on the old Mass, where we could find the old fashioned Mass in our area (he has no clue I have not considered myself a Catholic for many years).
Walt was outside and had not heard the phone ring. As I was sitting here, my eyes glazing over from all this stuff about Gregorian chant, Walt came into the house and I motioned that he should go get on the other phone. He did. Our friend said hello and then started repeating everything he had been telling me for the past twenty minutes!!!!!!!
Twenty minutes later, I thought he had just stopped to take a breath, but there was an awkward silence and he decided he'd better hang up, so we said goodbyes and ended the conversation.