In the early ’90s, down in metro DC, we had a good thing going for awhile, this gang of eight who got together for great food, wine, and company.
We once planned a winter weekend retreat together, renting a house down in Chincoteague/Assateague. Of course, a blizzard hit the day we were to leave. We tried to call and cancel, but were told we’d get no money back. The majority of folk decided we should brave it.
Six of us—Wayne, Sue, Craig, Ramberto, Tim, yours truly—piled into a van to head south in the major snowstorm. Bill and Susan promised they’d come the next day.
It was insane. A trip that in good conditions took maybe 3½ hours took about 8. We shouldn’t have been out there. Someone, who shall remain nameless, pulled out a couple of joints to ease the tension in the back of the van. This did not ease the tension of the firstborn square chick up front (the youngest person in the car) who felt that illegal substances are better left in stationary places like houses, not in moving vehicles during blizzards when at any point One Could Be In An Accident. Nobody really gave a shit what square chick thought, though, especially after a little dope. I believe it was at this point that someone brought up the topic of pod people, which would become some sort of weird theme for the weekend. It escapes me a bit. Craig could tell you.
It was so dark when we arrived, we had dinner at the only possible place to do so, after which we navigated the back roads via something akin to braille and attempted to enter the wrong (luckily empty) house with the key we were given. The directions Rental Woman had given us weren’t so great.
The next house we tried was the right one.
We were exhausted. But the next morning . . .
It’s the first and only time I’ve been to the ocean in the snow. I took a long walk through the corridor that was the beach, waves on one side, snow drifts on the other. It felt miraculous. There were snowball fights. On the beach.
We played hard that weekend. Bill and Susan joined us. That night, in another exhausted heap, I was introduced to Cleo Laine’s That Old Feeling, the most mellow collection of standards I’ve ever heard, the slowness of which seemed to slow everything else down, capturing us in this thick, syrupy dream.
Eventually, the group met its end as five of its members left DC: Wayne and Sue to Arizona, Craig to Florida, Tim and I to Vermont. I often wish we could plan a retreat somewhere again, a reunion. I know it wouldn’t be the same, but it wouldn’t have to be. Would it?