The Quality of Time

April 2, 2006 in It is what it is - opinion column | Comments (0)


I just did something unusual. I took a vacation. It wasn’t big one, and I didn’t go anywhere exotic, but I did unplug from the grid (translation – no work email but not offline wholly) for a couple of days.
Of course, shutting my brain off, or at least shifting it into a lower gear, takes a while, so I found myself sitting in a restaurant my first night taking notes.
Here’s what transpired …

Time: About 7:00pm Pacific
Date: March 29, 2006
Location: Some restaurant in Palm Springs, California.
So here I sit in Palm Springs. I drove in this afternoon from LA. After checking in to my hotel I drove around a bit and found a little restaurant. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that I was the youngest person in the room … by at least 20 years.
The ever so fey host showed me to a lovely table tucked into corner. It was a perfect vantage point from which I could observe. I don’t often have the luxury of completely anonymous people watching – at least not at home in San Francisco where I generally run into someone I know almost anywhere I go. Since I made this trip to Palm Springs solo, I took full advantage of my fly-on-the-wall status to observe. From my corner I had full view of the main dining room and also the piano in the bar. It was a baby grand surrounded by barstools upon which were perched an assortment of older patrons. There was one couple in particular that held my attention. They looked to be in their 70s. She reminded me of my mom – a stylish, attractive woman who was swaying on her stool to the music quietly singing the lyrics.
What caught my eye was during one particular love song. I don’t recall the title, and frankly the words were almost irrelevant because the gaze with which she stared at her significant other took center stage. With one hand sitting on his leg in a comfortable gesture speaking many years of familiarity, she leaned slightly towards him almost seeming to whisper the song in his ear. As the song progressed, he inclined towards her. A mirror above the piano allowed me a glimpse of their faces – beatific smiles shared back and forth.
The sense of history between them was palpable from across the room. I sat watching them, feeling the warm, chenille texture of this connection. It was gentle, timeless.
I finished up and headed across the street to the Riviera Resort where an opening night event for the Dinah Shore Weekend festivities was about to get underway. (If you don’t know about “The Dinah”, check out my commentary entry “Sapphic Wildlife.”)
I was early and so settled into an oversized wicker chair in the lobby. No sooner had I tossed one leg over the arm of the chair (sorry mom), than a group of young women walked through. They looked to be in their early 20s, and could have easily stepped from the set of The O.C. or some other program on the WB.
Snippets of their conversation bounced across the room, sparkly and bubbly comments that matched their fabulous strappy shoes and impossibly low cut jeans. One couple stood out from the others. The music had started up in the bar. These two women caught the rhythm and had started to dance together. Suddenly I flashed back to the couple at the restaurant and in these two young women felt that same gentle warmth exuded by the couple by the piano.
I smiled. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
At least we can all hope.


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