Last night a very large group of us got together at Jimi D’s to see our mutual friend Melanie off as she returns to Austin College for a year to complete her Master’s Degree. There was a lot of laughter, some catching up for those of us who haven’t seen her in a while, and some reminiscing of our lives over the past several years since many of us met. I took quite a bit away from this evening of revelry. More than I would have thought before I decided to start blogging about life.
I have had an amazing life so far. Case in point: Melanie, the friend we were celebrating, and I met on the David Copperfield Tour back in the late 90’s! How many people can say that? We’ve been to Spain and Portugal together and have A LOT of stories that are probably best left untold. Somehow, we both landed in Omaha when we decided to settle down. She because her family had settled here after living in Oklahoma for years, me because I found a job that took me from my home in Ohio. We’ve watched each other suffer through hard times and celebrated even more good times. Towards the end of the evening, I popped over to the table where her sisters and their husbands were sitting. I’ve known all of the family since I moved here and have been a guest at their holiday dinners and other family functions on more than one occasion. I even bought my car from her brother-in-law. Her oldest nephew is about to begin college in the fall and so Lisa and Rusty (Melanie’s older sister and her husband) and I began to talk in amazement about just how quickly time has gone by for us. It’s hard to fathom that you have a son in college when you still feel the way you did when you were in college! We started calculating how long we have been in Omaha and were shocked to realize that they have been here 19 years and I have been here 12. During this conversation I declared “I can’t believe I am only 4 years away from 50!” I don’t feel like I am older than 30 most days! I can see how folks in their 70’s and 80’s can look back in wonder at how they got to the age they are. And as Rusty reminded us, this is why we need to live in the moment and enjoy every second of our life.
This can be hard for me. I often find myself dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, instead of living in the moment. But that’s not how life is meant to be lived. By doing this, I often miss the great things that are happening right at this moment- the things that will become the past soon enough. People often ask me to talk about my life on the road, the tours I’ve done, the countries I’ve visited and how amazing that had to be. It was pretty amazing and often when it is cold and rainy outside and I’m curled up with a book on the sofa, I let my mind wander back to London and Paris and Milan and Madrid and the friends who I shared those experiences with. I tried to enjoy every second of those experiences so that I would have them for the rainy days. But as amazing as those moments were, there are other great moments in my life. Right now as I type this, I am savoring the smell of roasted tomatoes and garlic that will soon be turned into Penne Alla Vecchia Bettola. Nothing beats a dinner with friends around a table in Milan, except for a dinner with friends around your own kitchen table where the smells linger for hours afterwards and the sounds of laughter still ring in your ears as you drift off to sleep later that night. Or how about giggling with friends as you trip your way through a Sunday afternoon Tai Chi class or gather around a table to play board games which turn into free-for-alls since nobody really wants to read the rules?
These moments and more are all a part of a life well lived. I’ve learned that it is often in the less flashy moments that the best in life comes out, but you have to be open and ready to recognize those moments while they are happening. Last night was one of those moments. Sitting around the table, scarfing down sweet potato fries and cold bottles of Peroni while watching Melanie make the rounds, smiling and laughing and geared up for the next great adventure in her life; listening to Gene and Lora talking about their four-seasons room and thinking about future evenings spent hanging out there after an afternoon in the pool; laughing with Jenni and Mandi as Jenni described the “hot salsa” she had the night before, I couldn’t help but take a deep breath and sigh in pleasure at another moment that I will remember and treasure for years to come.