Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Front Stoop Sitting

Back to the life of perpetual parting and professional packing. Took out my handy list that has saved the reinvention of many wheels and filled my familiar suitcases with the familiar items, with the necessary adjustments for weather (hot) and circumstance (jazz courses in Barcelona and Madrid). Got e-mails down to two, unplugged the appliances, closed up the piano, changed the answering machine message and even got the perishable onions and cilantro delivered to my upstairs neighbor. The CD’s re-shelved, the piano music piled neatly, all the wood showing on my various desks— travel a good motivation to straighten up the house a bit. This time last year also would have meant goodbye to Chester the cat and making sure all his needs were met and the housesitter prepared to care for him. Almost exactly a year since he left us. I do miss the guy, but must admit it makes traveling easier.

So nothing left to do but wait for Super Shuttle to arrive. Brought the bags down and sat myself down on our front stoop— 13 stairs leading straight to the sidewalk. The sun had broken through the morning fog, a refreshing light breeze was stirring and suddenly I was back on my New Jersey front stoop, where I spent many a summer day sitting with my cat Zorro purring on my lap doing nothing more than—well, sitting on the front stoop.

Stoop sitting, especially on a summer’s day and often in the early evening, was a respectable and much-enjoyed pastime. We had no portable devices to distract us, no harried schedules running from one lesson to another. We had time to hang out, time that moved slowly and was marked by the exhaled purrs of the cat on our lap. It was a time to greet the neighbors passing by, indulge in the “Hot enough for you?”/ “How’s your Mom?”/ “And the kids?” kind of conversation. All the little gestures that glue together the social contract of good-neighborliness.

And also a time to exhale with the day, watch the fireflies coming out, think thoughts that passed through our head like puffy clouds in the sky. Feel a little relief from the sun’s mid-day heat, wonder about the folks driving by, listen to the sounds of my Dad playing the old jazz standard Tenderly on the organ on the other side of the screen door. “The evening breeze, caress the trees, tenderly…”

Sweet to remember that feeling in a rare moment of sitting on my San Francisco front stoop. It lasted for about three minutes and —Zoom! Super Shuttle arrives and off across the country and the ocean to this strange, weird and wonderful life that found me, that invites me to Barcelona to teach jazz to music teachers.

Maybe we’ll start with Tenderly.

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