My friend Steve called me up a few weeks ago and asked if he could stay with us while in town for his upcoming college reunion. But of course! Could he bring his college roommates too? It wasn’t the first time he’d brought total strangers to stay at our house, but giving me a heads up was thoughtful – and how could I say no?
This is how I found myself hosting a houseful this past weekend. With Pat off at a conference in Utah and Edie spending the better part of the weekend at a friend’s, I wound up with glorious alone time during the day while the fellows were off reunioning followed up by dinner and drinks out with the gang. It was like a staycation, only instead of my family, I had a staff of pool boys who kept me supplied in bourbon, rosé and Mariebette pastries. If that’s not living the dream, then I don’t know what is.
When I first met Steve, he was fresh out of undergrad Architecture school. I was a few years out of college, with an interior design degree that I had never really used, in a college town that was not my own. My very first day of my new job in this architecture firm, I was assigned to work on an office renovation with this guy Steve that I had just met – in fact, it was the renovation of the architecture office we worked in. It was incredibly exciting as well as incredibly intimidating. Later on however, Steve told me that his first impression of me was that I walked in and acted like I was in charge, so he just assumed I was in charge and that I knew what I was doing. I’ve heard versions of that about myself over the years – that I am very good at just owning a situation, but I’d never really heard it the way Steve told it. The memory stuck with me and to this day, whenever I find myself in a situation where I feel slightly out of place, I conjure up that conversation with Steve and I just own it. It’s worked well for me over the years.
“Authenticity in any situation is all you have”. Words to live by friends.
I worked with Steve for less than a year, but we clearly became lasting friends. Not only did we work a shared slightly high profile project, we shared a small office for a few months, hung out after hours regularly and at one point, Steve used our front porch to store a ladder and probably other equipment he used to make a short film. The film was for a film festival another friend invited him to participate in and his contribution ended up a short, artsy, dialogue free, black & white piece set in the abandoned power plant for the Woolen Mills across the street from the sweet little place Pat & I had down by the river when we were still pretty new to Charlottesville.
We’ve visited back and forth over the years since he moved away, but it had been a while since I’d seen him. It’s funny how the people whose paths we cross seep into our lives without us realizing it. Steve reminded me of a visit we had when Edie was a baby and just learning to talk. She kept saying “Efribbits” and for the life of us, we had no clue what she meant. Eventually, we realized she was trying to say “Edie’s favorites”. I had completely forgotten about efribbits until this past weekend. I’m so glad he remembered efribbits so that I could be reminded to write it down this time. It really does take an extended village.
We just so happened to be in the neighborhood of the old power plant this past weekend, so we wandered in to see how it had fared. It’s still there, but slightly overgrown with kudzu. There’s probably some sort of allegory there, but I’m not feeling creative enough to make it. I wished I had had my good camera with me though, but the ones I snapped on my phone will have to suffice. I was a little too busy living in the moment to worry about capturing them, which is a good way to be sometimes. It’s the efribbits of life.