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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hello Again

Whew, I feel shell-shocked and drained. Arrived in Richardson around lunchtime Monday and met Bill's frat brother for the first time. He is certainly wired and odd but very nice --big-hearted and anxious to make us welcome. Within the past three years he has lost his son, in 2008, in a freak snowboard accident, his wife to cancer and a sister. He has been working on the estates and seeking answers to his son's accident throughout this time but has given up his own work. He is rattling around in a HUGE house all by himself and is so desperate for company. Add to that wanting to catch up on 39 years since he and Bill have last seen each other.

Immediately, upon our arrival he wanted to know what we wanted to see in Dallas but we soon convinced him that we really did not want to run around sightseeing but rather wanted to visit with HIM. He is very into nutritional supplements but he does not cook for himself and has NOT cooked a meal in over three years. His pots and pans were definitely dusty and have not been used in some time. Having spent many years working in the Orient he is very fond of Asian food so the three of us went to the Walmart Grocery--a really nice store--solely a food store--and gathered the ingredients for Bill's Nepali food and returned to the fabulous kitchen he has ( the electric range top built into the counter has NEVER been used!!) and Bill cooked for us.

I was grateful for it too since we haven't had a decent meal since we left Gloria's--when one travels farm roads in Texas and stays in tiny towns the selection of restaurants is quite limited--Sonic, Dairy Queen, Arby's, McDonalds, Taco Bell and some sort of delivery pizza. We've had Dominos and Pizza Hut and neither hit the spot. So to have another home cooked meal was a great treat. Jim was thrilled and he and Bill ate huge plates again yesterday for lunch and there is still another serving for Jim tonight.

Lots of catch up and getting to know you conversation, wonderful Shiner Bock which I haven't had in ages and in general a day and evening that just flew. It was our intention to leave on Tuesday but Jim really wanted us to stay and meet the lady that he is dating and go to a Korean restaurant last night. It felt ungracious to refuse but with the emotional gamut in conversations about his son, especially it was quite stressful at times. Also Jim does not sleep so he was constantly running to the computer all night long and several times it awoke me to hear him. I worry about him since his friend base is in New England since he worked overseas so much that he didn't really cultivate friends in Texas though he has lived here for almost 20 years and the most recent time has been spent nursing a seriously ill wife who also was totally devastated by the death of their 33 year old son who was a very prominent and innovative physician. I'm not sure he has had a real chance to absorb and start to recover from all of this stress.

He is at loose ends and wants to sell his house and put all of this behind but there is still so much to do and he doesn't know if he wants to move to Fort Worth or leave Texas totally and move to Maine. Not knowing him myself and Bill not having seen him since they were 20 year olds in college it was difficult to know how much to pry and or advise or even how to respond to some confidences and yet we wished to be supportive. I know he really loved having us there and would have liked us to stay longer.

We did go to the Korean Restaurant in Dallas last night and Sunny, who is Korean, was a true delight. She ordered for us and helped us make our lettuce rolls of all the various little items that got mixed with our marinated beef which we cooked right at our table and our spicy chicken which was cooked in the kitchen because of the seasoning process. The weak cold tea with the meal was surprisingly refreshing between the various flavors and textures of the food, the miso soup was wonderful and we were totally stuffed by the time they served us the most delicious gingered sweet tea I have ever tasted. I wished I could have brought that home with us.

After dinner we went downtown to the Hilton and up to the 27th floor lounge where we reveled in the luxury of a nightcap overlooking the Dallas skyline--just beautiful.

By the time we arrived back at Sunny's it was 11 and though she wanted us to come in for coffee and apple pie--though she said she and I could share her red zin instead--we begged off--feeling quite sated and tired from a delightful evening. Got back to Jim's and while the boys had another beer and a cigarette I read another chapter of my book.

The room we had was huge, light and airy and both mornings--since both Jim and Bill were up at 5 and I slept until about 7 I took the opportunity to have me time and read a couple of chapters each morning before joining them for the breakfast Bill cooked us.

This morning we left around 1130 and headed right out of the city but took I 30 to Mt Pleasant where we got our motel room--Bill turned the TV on but is sleeping and I have just sort of dazedly looked at maps and my book and my backed up email. As I said, we are both reeling and need to decompress. Bill will see Jim again in April at their frat house gathering and will, at the same time, catch up with other brothers he hasn't seen in the same 39 years. I know he is happy to have seen Jim and we will stay in touch and see him again but in small doses, I'm afraid. Bill is wondering how he'll find the other guys and how they will find him.

Listening to hell week stories and pledge stories I don't understand the whole process any better now than I did when I was in my 20's. A little strange to me--paddling, branding only ended a couple years before they pledged, etc etc--warped and weird, I'm afraid. I'm curious to know what these other guys are like now--many of which are very successful and seemingly normal adults. HMMMM--wonder if their kids know! LOL

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