Beantown and Back

In the last five days, I have visited six states on the east coast while researching a big secret project. First I flew from San Francisco to Washington, DC, where I was supposed to make a connection to New York to visit my parents. Instead, my connecting flight was cancelled due to terrible weather in the New York area, so I wound up spending the night on the sofa of a dear old friend; the same friend I visited back in January after she underwent major surgery. While I was sorry to miss the extra time with my folks, it was an unexpected treat to catch up with my friend Diane, whose recovery from her ordeal has been absolutely remarkable. Two months ago she could barely hobble across her apartment, but on Sunday night we walked (and briskly, I might add) at least a half mile to the supermarket nearest her apartment, where we picked up some salads for an impromptu late dinner, and then walked – again, at a good pace – the half-mile back to her home. It was amazing. No, she is amazing!

When I did fly early – oh goooood, soooo early she whined – on Monday morning up to New York, my parents and I first stopped off at the supermarket (literally, on the way to their home from the airport), to pick up ingredients for split pea soup. Once back at their house, Mom and I got busy peeling the carrots and celery (and how did I get stuck dicing the onions, I’d like to know… it’s my least favorite cooking job!) and before long a big pot of soup was simmering away on the stove. This time, Dad wasn’t kibbitzing about how I’d used way too many onions, or why was I putting in that chopped up ham steak? After all, he’d eaten the same split pea soup when I visited them in February, and suffered no ill effects. Even though I had to leave Tuesday morning, it felt good knowing they had four quarts of homemade soup in their freezer.

My drive to Boston that morning was interrupted by a detour to Uxbridge, Massachusetts. I can’t say just yet why Uxbridge was a not-to-be-missed destination, but soon all shall be revealed. The 200-mile road trip was a blast, however, and not something I get to do very often. The only problem with doing all the driving over a distance of two HUNDRED miles is that I kept thinking of all the knitting I could have been doing had I only been sitting in the passenger seat.

Wednesday brought two Cambridge-based work-related meetings, also to be explained at a later date. An unexpected treat was meeting an old friend for dinner that night. Elizabeth and I worked together a dozen years ago when we both lived in Washington, D.C. She is an architect, one of the most elegant and talented women I know, and in the twelve years since we last saw one another, she has also produced three children (including a set of twins), earned a masters degree in the history of architecture at Harvard, and has maintained an impressive career as director of interior design for a Boston architecture firm. In fact, a home she recently completed on the North Shore will be featured in Architectural Digest later this year.

Today I made – and thoroughly enjoyed – another 200-mile round trip car ride up to Portland, Maine where I met two more amazing women whose professional interests are dear to my heart. Back in Cambridge late this afternoon, I met with one more person before calling it a day. Whether it’s jet lag or all the driving or a combination of the two, I am absolutely exhausted! In fact, here’s how it went with my plans to go to the hotel’s fitness center tonight upon my return:

Me, looking at watch: OK, it’s six o’clock. I’ll go to the gym and then head out to pick up some dinner at the Star Market next door.

Me, gazing at work-out clothes laid out on the enticing chaise in my room: But I’m hungry now. I know! I should go pick up dinner first, then come back to the room and change. It will be easier to go to the gym if I know there’s a yummy dinner waiting for me when I get back.

Me, sitting down on the edge of the chaise, patting the pillow and fingering the TV remote: If I go pick up dinner right this minute, hustle to the gym and put in even just a half-hour, by the time I get back the news will still be on and I can eat dinner while I watch it.

(I go to the Star Market and return to my room twenty minutes later lugging not one, but two grocery bags containing salad greens, dressing, small containers of hummus and tabbouleh salad, a tiny bag of potato chips, two apples and two bananas, and a box of cookies.)

Me, gazing at the food laid out on the handy little side table by the really very comfortable chaise, where I have once again sat down and leaned back into the pillows: Who am I kidding? I’m starving. I haven’t eaten since lunchtime and here it is – dinnertime! I can’t work out now. I’m too hungry to concentrate. I’m too weak to subject myself to the treadmill on an empty stomach. The smart thing to do is eat now, watch the news, do some work on the computer – AND GO TO THE GYM IN THE MORNING!!!

And that’s exactly what happened.

One more big meeting tomorrow morning (after the gym, of course…) and then I’ll have a couple of hours free before heading to the airport for the trip home. Despite the bleak bare trees lining the interstate and the patches of dirty snow on roadside hills in New Hampshire and Maine, the weather was surprisingly mild, holding enough of a hint of spring that I found myself missing the east coast more than ever.

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