Thursday, Warren submitted a grant application that he had been working on for weeks. It had been a major effort and he was worn out. I had been at the office longer that day than planned. Sometimes an unplanned, unscheduled, and urgent mediation comes up just as you are about to walk out the door, and our policy is to turn around and sit down with the parties for at least an initial meeting, which is what I did. So I was already tired when I met Warren at his office and we walked to City Hall for the "farewell" reception for our highly respected Police Chief, Russ Martin, who was recently appointed the county Sheriff. As it turned out, many of my former colleagues from Municipal Court were there at the same time, so there was a lot of catching up to do.
By the time we reached home, I was exhausted.
We ate a small supper, then Warren proposed a small walk. A little walk just to unwind. The warm day had cooled into a pleasant evening, so I was game. As it turned out, we got no farther than a block away, when Warren pushed open the front gate at the home of Darrell and Gola. Darrel, who was one of Warren's earliest music instructors, has remained a long-time friend, champion, and colleague of Warren's.
"Let's stop and visit," suggested Warren.
Darrell and Gola live in one of the older, large, wood-framed homes that fill our neighborhood. It has a deep front porch that Darrell just rebuilt. The porch also has several benches and chairs on it (also built by Darrell, who is a master woodworker), as well as a porch swing.
A porch swing. You know, the kind every house used to have. The kind that you hang on chains suspended from the porch ceiling, the kind that you take down every late fall and store in the basement until the weather warms up in the spring. I grew up in a house with a porch swing; my parents have a porch swing on their back porch. The kind that has a nice rhythm and a pleasant creak as it swings.
We sat on the swing together and rocked and talked with our friends for the next few hours. We talked until the fireflies (and the mosquitoes) came out. We talked until the moon slid down the western sky. We talked until the soft evening had faded into a silky night.
When we finally walked home, Warren and I agreed it was one of the most relaxing evenings we'd had in weeks. There was no computer trying to attract our attention. There was no television, no radio. There was just good talk and laughter and the communion of friendship.
As I fell asleep last night, I reflected on how satisfying the evening had been. It was life at a slower pace. It was life as we (the collective "we") used to live it 70, 80 years or more. The depths of the porches on our older homes in this town attest to that.
It was life lived in the old ways.
This morning, still smiling from last night, I turned on my computer and got a jolt. In my email Inbox was a message that read:
I just got a new email with my computer and wanted you to have my address.
Dad?! What new computer? What new email address? There was never an old email address or an old computer.
Some days you just can't keep those new ways away.