Social Memories – Distant and Dear

I was inspired to write this blog post by the documentary, The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble*

* * *

In this time of lock down I have been going through decades of pictures. Taking time for joyous and poignant memories and also those that bring forth echoes of crushing loss.

Life didn’t turn out the way I planned. When I was young enough to believe I was calling the shots, I couldn’t dream of loss. I imagined that as I aged past travel I would be looking at these photos with my BFF, Mary or my sister, Pat. We would be reliving the precious warmth of people who had shared their cultures with us.

Mary and I would have been remembering the devout Spaniards bringing bouquets of flowers to the cathedral. It was a work of true devotion. The women lined up with bouquets of flowers while over and over the men relayed the flowers up the ladders – covering a wall with colorful proof of faith in and gratitude to the Madonna.

Man from Murcia, Spain

Or we could tell snippets of the stories we heard from the men in Murcia, Spain. After we had happened into the Tour de España in a town that grew all of its men short and stout and wearing berets, we went to dinner and found ourselves the only women in the restaurante/bar . The men were curious and respectful although our appearance in that place was far outside of cultural norms. Mary never met a stranger and they happily shared stories.

Or we could listen to CDs and remember opera in Madrid. Violetta wore a beautiful white dress. Or Paris would come to mind – trying to find the Opera House.




Mary in Greece

Maybe Mary would’ve been smiling again as if her face would break as when we talked about her birthday in Athens, Greece. The musicians in the taverna played for her on that balmy May evening under the stars.

Pat and I would relive waking to the glorious display of fruit, vegetables, animals, and people in a market below our window. Such serendipity to mingle with the shoppers in Kalambaka,** at the base of Meteora.

Another weaver in Greece. I visit her and her family on every return trip.

Or we’d remember stopping to see the artistry of a woman sitting at her loom on the side of a high mountain road. We would laugh at my naivete and Pat’s skillful negotiating for the weaving. Pat (the former Greek resident) was always afraid that her younger, inexperienced sister would pay too much.

Strange how my loved ones are now my best company – right here with me in isolation. I don’t need the keepsakes that we bought with such care. The pictures don’t mean as much without Mary and Pat. They are less important than those in mind which come flooding back.

I am exultant that I have been so fortunate. Treasured friends In so many places have enriched my life. They enveloped me in their spaciousness. I have looked in the eyes of people who spoke in a language foreign to my ears, to which I responded incoherently – and yet we understood each other because we cared enough.

How blessed am I? In quarantine with cherished memories.


*Available on Amazon Prime

**Kalabaka (Greek: Καλαμπάκα, Kalabáka, alternative transliterations are Kalambaka and Kalampaka) is a town and seat of the Municipality of Meteora, part of Thessaly in Greece. The population was 21,991 at the 2011 census, of which 8,330 in the town proper.[1] The Metéora monasteries are located near the town.

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