We would drive and listen to the stereo and sing songs like “American Pie” at the top of our lungs, we would sing silly songs (okay I would) that I learned from Girl Scouts like “Junior Birdman” and “Cowboy Joe” and we would act like children and laugh until our sides hurt and tears ran down our faces. We would find out of the way places like shops, restaurants, flea markets, tea shops etc and explore. Sometimes we would just drive in companionable silence or listen to music lost in our own thoughts.
We didn’t always get lost, sometimes we would plan our trips and go the sculpture park, or Powder Valley, or a museum or the arch. Anne was one of the few kids in her grade school who had actually gone to Powell Symphony Hall without it being a school trip. She was also one of the few kids who had gone up in the arch, knew how Dogtown was named, had a root beer float at the A&W in Frenchtown St Charles … she had lived her life. We drove through scary neighborhoods with our eyes wide and our doors locked and we drove through neighborhoods where people lived in mansions and hired full time gardeners and enjoyed each one equally.
My daughter lives in Brooklyn New York now and I think our little adventures might have been good preparation for her new life in a new place with new experiences. I hope so anyway. When I visited her there last summer I went everywhere during the weekdays by myself. I took public transit to Times Square, Central Park and Coney Island. I sat on the steps of MOMA and ate a hot dog and a pretzel from a street vendor. I sketched sculpture in the sculpture park in the Museum of Natural History and walked around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I loved every second of it and can’t wait to go back and do it again in the fall.
When my daughter first left for college I wasn’t sure how I would be able to handle it. Would I be able to have adventures by myself? Well the answer is yes! Although I miss my partner in crime I really enjoy going places by myself. I go anywhere I want and never feel self conscious although it took baby steps. My first step was to go to a movie by myself and after that I just tried smaller trips. I have gone to art festivals, food tastings, museums, sculpture unveilings (one is coming up soon), music festivals and had a great time. I love it.
Today I went to the Greek Orthodox Church in Des Peres to check out their festival. I have a few independent observations.
Non-secular (I know this is kind of an urban phrase but it applies) – I can’t tell you why I felt this but I did. It seemed to me that the people I observed today were very involved in their church and as such their church was intertwined throughout every aspect of their lives. I envy this absolute faith.
Beauty – Greek people are beautiful. They have gorgeous dark black hair, intelligent brown eyes, prominent profiles, strong white teeth and olive complexions. I saw some teenagers come in and head right for Father standing off to the side. They kissed his hand and then his cheek and talked to him about their lives in a very relaxed fashion. There was a stunning young man who might have just come “off the boat” in the group and I noticed that people’s eyes were drawn to him as he left.
I parked in a parking lot about a mile from the festival. There was a shuttle picking people up and taking them to the church. I climbed off the shuttle with about a dozen other people and was immediately overtaken with the sights and smells of the festival. It was a lovely day today, the sun was shining and it was in the eighties with no rain in sight. I walked past the children’s area and there was a tent set up with food concessions, a bar and a stage for live music. The musicians were on a break but the bar was full of tables and chairs and people. I wished there was a grassy area to sit and watch the band play.
There was a sign pointing people inside for food so I walked up the stairs and into the entryway. To the right of the entrance was a room selling religious literature and hand-made jewelry. The jewelry was pretty but over-priced and I know that because I make jewelry. Directly opposite the entrance was a gymnasium overflowing with people and music and good smells. I walked in and to the left along a long wall were food serving areas and a big sign showing what everything cost. I grabbed an orange plastic tray, plastic wrapped silverware and napkins and slid down the line behind the people already ordering. I chose grape leaves stuffed with ground meat, spices and rice called Dolmathakia and a gyro plate. The gyro plate had rice richly made with butter and chicken broth, a pita, gyro meat, onions, tomatoes and about a quarter cup of tzatziki sauce.
I sat at a table facing the room and people watched. The gymnasium had posters of Greek cities all over the walls, some new but most had been there for a while. There was a stage at the end of the gym with a temporary stage set that looked like it had been there a while. The tables were all covered with vinyl table cloths. Each round table was surrounded by six to eight chairs and most of the tables were full of people eating and drinking and talking over each other. I finished my meal and a man with dancing brown eyes picked up my tray for me and dumped it.
I left the gym and wandered back outside hoping that the band had started again but they hadn’t. They were giving tours of the church but the last one was at 4:00 and I didn’t get there until a little after 4:00 and I didn’t want to try to run and catch up. I walked around and found a place to sit and people watch for a while then caught the shuttle back to my car. I wasn’t there long but I had a good meal and enjoyed a glorious end of summer day outside.
As I was waiting for the shuttle to pick me up a man who looked about my age with a young family sat in the chairs in front of me. I listened as he complained about the food, the lackluster children’s area, the prices, the lack of “other stuff” to do and the day in general. His apparently long suffering wife just sat there and occasionally admonished Jeremy who looked to be about eight for running, jumping, licking his sister and wandering too far. I felt sorry for that man and his family because he wasn’t looking at this as a life experience. I hope I never get that old.