I feel very disloyal writing this. I have lived in MD for 25 years. My children and grandchildren are here. But Vermont has always felt like “home” to me, even though I have lived in MD more than 1/2 my life. I finally went “home” this weekend. Saw people, some of whom I haven't seen for almost 30 years. I picked up the rental car at the Burlington Airport and as I got into Vergennes, about 15 minutes north of Middlebury, I started crying. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am not a crier. I don't get emotional, or at least rarely do but when I got out of the airplane I wanted to kiss the ground. Vermonters are the coolest people. My seatmate on the plane up to Burlington was a physician who has a company that provides electronic medical records. I don't remember the name of the company. What was important to me was this fellow didn't give a rat's behind what I did for a living. He practices medicine one day a week at a free clinic for people who otherwise wouldn't get medical care. Another day he teaches medicine at UVM. The rest of the week, he sells the software and sails on Lake Champlain. He sleeps well at night. In Shelbourne, where he lives, a typical dinner at home with friends consists of dinner with a couple of docs, maybe the town lawyer, the guy who runs the local bar, and maybe a couple of farmers and housewives. They look at the person, not the income or what they do for a living. God love 'em. That's what life is about. Shit shit shit I want so badly to move to VT!!!!!! But good Lord, would they welcome a foreigner like me? I would only go there if I had something to offer folks.
When I finally got to the street near where Martha lives, I called her on my cell phone. She gave me directions and said she'd be standing out front with a phone in her ear. I wanted to stop the car, run out and hug her then and there! I parked the car as I should have, though, LOL. She and her eldest, Patrick, was there. I hugged them both – no tears, though, I was too happy:)
Martha took me a on a guided tour of her lovely home right there on Elm St. in Middlebury. They had done quite a bit of work on it, but I have to say, it could've been a shack in a ragweed field, and it would've been a castle to me! I still couldn't get over the fact that Dillon was no longer there in the flesh. He was, however, there in spirit. I actually talked with him a few times because his presence was so palpable:) Not in a Sylvia Browne kind of way, mind you, but he was there with us throughout the weekend.
I went to the local market to get some potato salad, coleslaw and macaroni salad – to say nothing of a couple of bottles of wine and a six pack of local Otter Creek Beer:) As I was headed out of Martha's driveway, I saw Ann and Tony Miller drive in with Mary Beth Metzger in the back seat and I knew the weekend was going to be wonderful:)
Went to the store, not without a couple of calls wondering what people were drinking, LOL:)and came back. Within the hour, Paul Cody had arrived. Paul is a clinical psychologist doing the kind of work I would love to do – for GLBT people – and teaching a course at UNH. He lives in Pittsfield, NH with his co-parent, Cindy and their son, Kevin. Paul is a practicing philosophical Taoist – he had a lot of wisdom to share with us this weekend:)
Ann & Tony Miller and Mary Beth Metzger were there. It was hugs all around. Everyone looked so beautiful to me. It's funny. We were certainly all older – Heck, Martha will be 63, Tony, 61, Ann and Mary Beth are or will be 52, I'm 51 and Paul will be 49 later this year – but everyone looked even more beautiful than I remember them! Hell, they could've all been one-eyed, one horned flying purple people eaters and they would've been haute couteur models to me:)
Patrick remembered his family's visit to us back in 1983 – with four adults and nine children in a three-bedroom apartment. We laughed about how our kids were so overwhelmed by the crowd and how wonderful it was to see all of them.
That night, Martha made a bunch of “Martha Burgers” along with wine, diet coke, etc, tomatoes, and the salads I had gotten from the deli. Her youngest son, Brian stopped by with his youngest son, Cooper – who is cute as a button:) Brian reminded me so much of Dillon, it almost hurt. We sat outside on Martha's back porch and talked until the mosquitoes threatened to eat Paul and me alive – in spite of using Ann and Tony's repellent:) Then we went into the living room after Brian and Cooper headed home across the street. We sat and talked about a lot of things.
That night I stayed next door at the neighbors' house – Tom and Sybilla Saunders – who were out that night. I was amazed at their kindness. Sybilla is German and Tom's brother, I later learned, lives in Ellicott City:)! I didn't sleep too well, because I was worried I'd snore and keep them awake if they got home after I fell asleep.
Next morning I woke up naturally at 7 am, took a shower, etc and headed next door to Martha's. After breakfast, we walked in scorching heat to the college campus, walked around, and saw Martha's office and paid our respects to Dillon at the graveyard. We had lunch down the street and the others headed back while Ann and I scoped out the yarn shop. I got a book of patterns, but couldn't commit to any (rather high-priced) yarn. Stomach troubles headed me back to Martha's while Ann kept perusing the shops.
That night, Paul prepared dinner – it was amazing! All the Baldwin “kids” were there that night. It was around then that we called our gathering “DillonFest 2005 – the babysitters” in remembrance of Dillon and all of us who babysat for the Baldwins. The “kids” looked wonderful. I recognized them almost immediately:) Jana was still the ebullient, joyful, and energetic young woman who is so much like her mother. Meghan is still the quiet, thoughtful, loving woman who knows how to “smooch in the kitchen” with her husband:). Patrick is the responsible, thoughtful young man who this weekend had no family obligations. Paul was the quiet loving husband and father and Brian was the everloving “baby whisperer” who looks and acts just like his father. We saw the scrapbook daughter-in-law Andrea made after Dillon died of his life – and the typed out eulogy for Dillon done by Meghan (which moved all of us to tears from the beginning).
That entire weekend I walked around, scarcely believing the blessing of finally being again in VT – a place I thought I'd never see before I died! Every time I think of this weekend, I want to weep for joy.
Saturday night, before we sat down to dinner, Ann said we needed to say grace, but in honor of Dillon, who so loved music, we should instead sing the Doxology. We did, and for those of us who could, in harmony. That was the only time I saw Martha tear up. A true Vermonter, she loves deeply, but does not wear her emotions on her sleeve – not that there's anything wrong with that:)
I headed for bed early that night and said my prayers – including a number to Saint Dillon, who I know has God's ear because he sings in the heavenly choir now!
Sunday morning after breakfast, Paul left for home. Hugs all around. Martha was doing the Epistle reading at Mass, so Ann, Tony and I attended at 10 am (Mary Beth had gone with Patrick at 5:15 Saturday evening.) Kevin Parizo, the Music Director at St. Mary's (who was there when I was attending Middlebury College in the mid 70s) was playing both at 5:15 Sat. and 10 am Sunday. We sang the hymns and I participated at Mass as if it was yesterday. I received Communion after inquiring whether it would offend Martha if I did so. I didn't really worry about a bunch of people who didn't know me, but I would not have taken Communion if it would have offended Martha. Tony's response? “I doubt it, since it didn't offend her in the 1970s when I received it.” I waited for the moment to decide and my legs just started moving toward it.
After Mass, I said my goodbyes to Martha, Tony, Ann, and Mary Beth. We talked about politics. I said how I thought the terrific thing about Vermonters was that they didn't seem to care about socio-economic status and that they “thought the hell for themselves.” Martha agree with me on that one – well she IS a Yankee, isn't she?
The trip back was uneventful. My seatmate on the plane was an Egyptian young woman who was a UK citizen. We talked about Americans and I was relieved to hear that she and her brother were treated well in her travels. She was headed for NYC. I asked her what she and her brother were going to do (actually asked if they were going to see a Broadway show). She said they were going to the Gay Pride parade. I just smiled and thought “God Bless Amurika!”
New goal in life: get educated as a therapist. Pass the VT bar. MOVE THE HECK TO VT ALREADY!!!!!
AHHHHHHH Now that's better:)