Driving from a rural area toward a megalopolis is almost always a frustrating experience. The closer you get to the heart of darkness, the worse the traffic becomes and the more likely it is that you will accidentally cross the event horizon and be sucked in, never to break free of the bumper-to-bumper traffic of the black hole collapse. Or so it seems to me.
By comparison driving in the reverse direction, away from the beast, feels like a continuously increasing sense of relief as the road and the entrances become less and less congested and the craziest of the homicidal drivers are left behind or at least no longer have the traffic density needed to ensure maximum mayhem.
Now all of that was true yesterday as I arrived and departed from the party that I travelled to. But despite the tension of defying the human density gradient around the suburbs of Gotham City I was sorry that the party couldn’t have been extended indefinitely.
Everything about the gathering was congenial. It was almost the entire family. And that’s no mean feat. We are many and we are scattered much more than in the past. And Sunday is a tough day for travelling. Saturday being the optimal day to allow for recovery before work resumes.
And everyone there was splendidly sociable. The talk was the usual mixture of family events, politics, current events and reminiscing about crazier things and planning for crazier things. And I learned things that I had never known about people I know very well. And I saw what the youngest generation is starting to look like when they socialize. And despite all the dire warnings and predictions they seemed quite healthy and normal.
Of course, food is always a highly important component of one of these shindigs and the hostess was extremely wise in her choices and provisioning. There were several completely different themes with respect to the menu and there was never any danger of running out of the favorites which is always comforting. I will admit that I no longer make the impact on the buffet table that I used to. And that is necessary. I wouldn’t have survived my former exploits as a trencherman. But I still grazed high and low and tried a bit of everything. Wonderful.
But the highlight is when the old bulls stagger into a corner, collapse into a circle of chairs and start pontificating about what’s wrong with the world and what we should do about it. And eventually we come to agreement that things are going to go to hell no matter what we say or do and then we come to agreement that at least the world has us in it to make it a world worth living in. Now this was what I remember when the old bulls were my father’s and my grandfather’s generations laying down the law and telling us what was wrong with my generation. And now, heaven help me, I’m at my grandfather’s age and making my last speeches before shuffling off the stage permanently. What a strange thing time is.
And just in time the cake and coffee are served and we lapse into a warm glow of caffeine and pastry ingredients. And all too soon it’s time to go. We need to leave before it’s too late to make the drive back. But of course, there is at least a half hour of goodbyes, to each and every one. Back slapping and hugs and hand shakes for one and all and then last-minute details remembered and plans for the next gathering. And then we’re on the road and headed home. But the glow from the party is still with us. We talk about what we’ve heard and seen. We talk about those who couldn’t make it and those who are gone. But it’s all a happy feeling. A good feeling.
The country and the world have gone straight to hell. There’s no denying it. But good things still exist. And the best of those things is family, is the humanness of family. The ties that bind and the hope for a future and the precious, priceless treasure of the young in our midst.
The world is not all ruin and depravity. There is hope. And I can see it when we get together.