Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Leg One: Marshfield

Our first stop is Marshfield, MA to visit my friend Sue and her family. She's graciously invited us to stay with her, her husband, Neil, (who, amazingly, she was already dating when I met her 20 years ago) and their two sons, Cameron and Andrew. I'm excited because I've barely seen Sue in the past 10 years, and haven't met the kids ever.

Sue and I worked together at Cabot Advertising after graduation, and bonded over how we could practically be in a coma and still do our jobs. She was in Direct Marketing,and I was answering phones and making copies for some kind of dog food account, but mostly we were making lots of pilgrimages to the cafeteria and "visiting" each other's desks, two floors apart. As the year went on, we added long lunches, sometimes including a cruise around the harbor (we required fresh air, you understand.) Good times. She actually went on to great fame and success in the business world, while I...not so much. But a lasting friendship was forged in that brick edifice in Charlestown, and that's what's really important here. And you should check out her blog, because she's funny as hell.

Despite the rain and rush hour traffic, it's a peaceful drive to the South Shore, with Jarrah asleep and the deep green of the roadside trees to soothe our nerves. As we near our destination, I tell David that we will be posting a photo essay called "The Banks of Marshfield," because even the financial institutions look like colonial Williamsburg. (Alas, that project is abandoned.) Their house is gorgeous, situated on what looks like many acres of rolling hills and obscenely fulsome lilacs. Right away we establish that Sue and Neil look the same as they did 20 years ago, the boys are cutie-pies, and their dog, Teddy, resembles an unshorn lamb.

In short order, David and I are happily ensconced around the kitchen island, yammering away, while six-year-old Andrew has staked a claim in Jarrah's heart as "Friend," so dazzling that his name must remain unspoken for the entire visit. Within minutes, the two of them are covered head to toe in the contents of his dress-up box, and by the end of four days, she has been initiated into the wonders of Guitar Hero, whoopie cushions, and Fruit Loops. That evening, she informs us gravely that she will be sleeping with Friend, and she does, on a mattress against his bed, where no doubt she would be still, if we hadn't stuffed her in the car.

We have a few all-too short days of lovely outings while the sun shines and cozy evenings at home during rainstorms (so thoughtful of the weather to wait until our daily return.) We explore the town, admiring the beach houses on stilts and the mansions of the summer elite who frequent the area, the cranberry bogs, and yes, the marshes. We eat Swedish ice cream, which kicks the ass of ice cream from any other country. We journey to Plymouth to see the Mayflower (a replica) and the Rock (completely boarded and scaffolded for renovations) and one night we have a joyous dinner party with my old pal Cynthia and her beau, recently returned from a sojourn in Italy and looking--if it could be possible--even chicer than she did in our Beacon Hill apartment days two decades ago. Just watching her prepare a salad is a balm to my soul. Now that I've reached an age of, shall we say, introspection, I find that sharing something totally simple and ordinary with old, old friends is incredibly moving.

I feel that with Sue throughout the visit. Not wasting any time, we dive into the free-of-pauses conversation we've been having since we first met on the Cabot shuttle bus in 1989, and it's a grown-up luxury to be able to drop and lift threads over the course of several days. Since we've descended on them in the middle of the school week, the whole family pays us the greatest compliment of integrating us in their daily business, putting us at ease almost instantly. Jarrah isn't the only one who finds it incredibly hard to leave.

And a shout-out to Andrew, who at six-and-a-half did not once call attention to Jarrah's less-sophisticated language and interests, nor seem impatient with her constant fawning and doting and the way she repeated every word he said as if she'd thought of it herself (only louder.) It really warmed my heart, and Jarrah may never be the same.


Anonymous said...

I love the photos.

What a sweet post! "Friend" sounds adorable.

Glad that you had such a fun time.



The Wades said...

agog, as always, with your use of the language. it's like reading a great book--candy for sentences! love it! keep on postin'!

smittenknitten said...

What a wonderful start to your trip! Can't wait for the next leg :).

dena said...

May Jarrah be blessed to "never be the same". Life experiences are what make us better people.

Can't wait for the next installment! Still "peeping", not always posting!

suebdo said...

YAY Marshvegas ;) - Love the post, Adore the photos - I'll show "friend" tonight!! Anytime we go for ice cream - Andrew always recalls how much Jarrah loves to PLAY ice cream! Just yesterday he asked if you got to do your duck tour - I hope so.
Loads of Love - The Kirdahy Clan