Their brogues and their cheer and their utter joy

 

after all these years

I’ve connected with friends via social media and even met quite a few people face-to-face who I’d first connected with online. I was rather active on twitter back before it seemed to be mostly brands and marketing accounts, and between that and writing a tea blog, I made the acquaintance of quite a few of the no-longer-stranger sort of people who now inhibit my online village. It’s nothing particularly new, but it is funny when I’m asked where I know someone from and I sheepishly mention that we met via the web.
But this isn’t one of those stories. Not in the least. The guys on either side of me in the photo above are two geezers that I met back when we were all still kids. Not that I was particularly close to either of them back then, but thanks to social media being what it is they reconnected with mutual friends the way one does. Soon enough, we were similarly connected & there were the usual polite offers of, ‘Hey, whenever you’re in Munich, you should definitely get in touch.

Yes, of course. Like that was ever going to happen.

Well, it happened.

They flew in from Aberdeen for the weekend and I gave them my informal tour of Bavarian capital’s city centre. Of course there were libations and stories and political discussions and eventually a bit of the local fare. The afternoon became evening and the time somehow flew by as if we’d somehow been in contact all these years. It was that good. I could give you a list of superlatives about how intriguing and enjoyable the conversation was, but I’m not sure my words would do it justice.

We’d all heard about the horrible events in Paris the previous night. I suppose it might’ve been understandable if we were somehow morose or somber even, but I don’t think the thought ever crossed our collective minds.

Here were two guys – Jamie on the left and Martin on the right – whose lives were indescribably enriched by visiting our boisterous and slightly off-kilter art school back when we thought we’d figured it all out. Little did they know how much they’d brought to the table. That we world-wise and somewhat jaded American musicians and dancers and artists and writers had been just as grateful to meet these guys with their brogues and their cheer and their utter joy.

Of course the conversation veered to mutual friends we had lost. It was inevitable but somehow cathartic. They wanted more stories and I was happy to provide them. There was a tale they’d heard about something that I’d done at a funeral. I sheepishly assured them it was true. Guilty, as charged.

After safely depositing them back at their hotel, I walked the quiet streets back toward mine. What a curious and precious thing this is. All of it. Might sound cliche, but don’t take it for granted. Breathe in deeply and lean in. You’ll be glad you did.

Bagpipes with a side of Salsa

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While I was travelling, I had times when I was regularly posting things here (lots of family and galavanting) and on the teablog (tea shops in southern Spain) and on tumblr (when I really didn’t have time to write much), but there were also times when there was just ‘too much living goin’ on around.’ I had to see what I could see. That’s a direct reference to a Lyle Lovett song, so I’ll incude that here:

And there were so many things going on….I’d regularly stumble over to twitter, make oblique references to noteworthy adventures, and then promptly move on to something else. That means I’m planning to periodically return to stories about the trip. If there are photos, I’ll be sure to include them.

For example, the photo at the top of this post demands some sort of explanation. I wish I had one. Those are bagpipes. Real bagpipes. No photoshopping here. And that man is not a Scotsman. He could be Hispanic. Or an American Indian. Or I suppose he could be a Pacific Islander or a number of other possibilities, but I’m going to stop before I dig myself a hole.

He’s not Scottish. That’s my point. He also looks as if he’s been working all day in a blue-collar job still in his work shirt. After a long day in the factory, what else are you going to do but go play your bagpipes on the streets of downtown?

My mother had had a wonderful evening on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, and we went up to street level to make our way back to the hotel. As we turned a corner, there was this guy playing his bagpipes. Like we were at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

But we weren’t. We were in Texas. Now, I should say that I saw bagpipes when I was a kid. It’s not like they don’t let any bagpipes out of Scotland. There are Canadian pipers. And Aussie pipers, as well as Kiwi pipers. There are very serious pipers all over the world.

However, I still think of them as having some sort of connection to Scotland. Your parents are from Aberdeen, or something. This guy’s parents were most likely not from Aberdeen.

Incidentally, bagpipes are called a Dudelsack in German. I know some of you who will almost certainly appreciate that little tidbit.