Count On It.
I didn't expect to do much in the way of fun today. I'd known for about a week that I would be attending a family dinner my aunt was throwing for my cousin's fiftieth birthday. My parents had me somewhat later in life than their siblings had their respective children, but it's still hard to believe I have a cousin that old, and he's not even the oldest. I'm the youngest of five cousins in my family. One of my dad's sisters has a son in his forties. I'm pretty sure my mom's brother's son is in his late forties. Another of my dad's sisters has two sons, the youngest of whom was the one turning fifty which places her older son a good three or four years into his fifties by my estimation. Our age difference hasn't changed, so the fact that I have middle-aged cousins presents me with the inescapable fact that I myself must be getting older.
Since tonight was the dinner and tomorrow I'd have to get up and go to a 7:00 AM mass with my dad before helping him do yardwork, I planned to rest and watch DVDs for the few hours of freedom that I had. Early this morning my aunt left a message that her son had strep throat and would not be leaving his apartment. Without a guest of honor, she decided to postpone the dinner for another time. My mom works at an arboretum on weekends in the Spring and Summer, and today was her first day of the year. As she left accompanied by my dad, she informed me that we'd go to a five o'clock mass tonight as usual since the dinner was off. I was free for a few hours; what to do?
I grabbed a book and hopped in the car. It was sunny and somewhat warm, and the shore was calling me once more. I drove to a local park and walked down to the beach, walking along a seawall I had forgotten about, my feet trodding upon ground they hadn't touched in years. I found a nice park bench along this trail with a spectacular view of either Connecticut or another Long Island peninsula, depending upon where I was inclined to look. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the breeze died down enough that I had to take off my jacket and roll up my sleeves. I read my book to the soothing sounds of waves crashing against the stone wall below. Occasionally people would pass by. Joggers. Couples. Children on bicycles. Grandparents with strollers. Momentary sounds against bluestone that distracted me from my tranquility without detracting from it in the least.
Eventually the breeze picked up a few hours later, so I put on my jacket and walked along the wall until I came to a stone stairway built in to the steep hill. I'd been there before but it all looked different. Perhaps time had changed the landscape. Perhaps I had changed, or my memory only held faded snapshots. I climbed to the top of the hill to be greeted by a larger expanse of park than I realized was there, and turned to look out on the Long Island Sound. With leaves yet to return to many trees, the view was absolutely breathtaking.
Things don't go according to plan; count on it. Yesterday at lunch my friends decided to take me to a department store and make some clothing suggestions. While there, we discovered the new Star Wars® toys were out, and fashion was forgotten as one of my friends proceeded to fill a shopping cart with the entire collection except for 3 or 4 figures that were sold out, ultimately spending over $100, something he definitely didn't plan on. I spent a day in paradise today when I planned to spend it in my room. I expected to have my cheeks squeezed by my aunts tonight while they asked me how work was and how many girlfriends I had. Instead I went to church with my mom, where we didn't expect 20 or 30 children to be making their first Communion and spent an hour and a half in mass with a crowd of people we'd never seen before but who were apparently part of our parish. When my mom wasn't feeling well afterwards, I planned to run in to Burger King to pick up dinner. Because we got out of church later than usual, we had to stop for a train. Because of my luck and supreme good timing, we caught that same train again at the next stop, where it bisected our route a second time. My luck continued when I went in the restaurant and found the manager performing some sort of “transplant” between the cash register at the counter, and the one at the drive-through. As he concentrated with a screwdriver, the other cashier spoke on a headset and I realized she was speaking to people at the drive-through. As she spoke, another cashier took a roll of paper from the open register, tore off a piece, and began writing down what she was saying with a pencil. He then ran in the back to find a calculator. Eventually the register was fixed and someone took my order. After dinner I planned to use my time to start a draft of my upcoming blog party. I felt a little tired, lay down “for a minute”, and here I am hours later. Even more interesting is the fact that while I slept, my face and arms seem to have turned beet red, except for a spot on my wrist where my watch was. Apparently I have a delayed sunburn that didn't manifest itself right away.
Make plans, but count on them changing and always, always be ready to roll with those punches.