"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
"The Walrus and the Carpenter," Lewis Carroll
My friend Sarah treated me to Victorian High Tea at Tyme for Tea in Niles on Wednesday. It was a lovely afternoon.
The sky was that cornflower blue that blesses us who live here in the fall, and although the hills had not yet turned from brown to green, the trees had turned from green to red. Niles is a small town hidden away in the East Bay, lovely and quaint, if admittedly a bit kitschy. The Niles Canyon Railroad runs from there, and I have sweet memories of taking small boys riding on a steam train through the golden hills on a November Saturday afternoon.
Tea was fun, and silly. The tea shop has a chest of hats, so I donned a brown panama and selected a maroon cloche for Sarah. We dined on fresh-baked cherry scones and lemon curd, tea sandwiches and petit fours, washed down with warm tea redolent of peach and ginger.
We talked. We talked of work -- hers ongoing and mine recently completed. We talked of family. We talked politics. She commiserated with me over my frustration with recent health issues and meds side effects.* I talked about the year, and how glad I was it was drawing to a close. We talked about our plans to see The Book of Mormon, and she talked about having had to remind herself not to sing the songs out loud during her trip to Uganda. We talked about how I had just started reading Cory Doctorow's fiction (as opposed to his blogging), and how Nate Silver was, as she said, "adorkable." We talked about how the sex workers in Amsterdam are unionized, and how legalization of behavior makes it easier to regulate.
We talked of our lives as they are, and our lives as we would have them be, and the world around us.
It is soul-filling to talk at length to friends whose approval I need not seek, whose disfavor I do not fear. Not because they do not matter -- there are legions in this world whose opinion is of no consequence to me -- but because they can be trusted to not judge me, or when judgment is inevitable (for who never judges?) to leaven it with love and compassion. People who know my imperfections and accept me anyway. Who like me anyway. And whom I like and respect in turn, regardless of their flaws, whatever those may be.
I am grateful to have friends like that. Some, such as Sarah, or Stephanie, live close to me. Some -- Cathy or Jennifer or Carol or others -- are flung across the country (and soon, in Jennifer's case, across the world). I do not have as many as I would like, or arguably need (I am a solitary and suspicious type, and people often have to work to get to know me), and I am far, far too bad at keeping in touch, but I treasure each one of them.
I need to tell them that more often.
We need to talk.
*Among other things, my hair is falling out. No, I do not have cancer.