An Evening Outside and Offline
It is the fourth in a series of perfect days. I can live with the bluest of sky coupled with low humidity and a thermometer hovering around 70 degrees. On the deck, there is just enough wind to keep the mosquitoes at bay, and everywhere I look, things are growing. Anymore, when I see beauty, my first reaction is to grab my phone, and point and shoot. I want to “share” the joy with others and pass it on. And, yes, I am usually not that far from my phone.
Last night, though, even though my phone was in my back pocket, I spent six hours without ever touching it. And though many photo opportunities abounded, I even forgot it was there. You see, we invited friends over for an evening of woodfired pizzas. It was the perfect night to gather and eat outside. Jim had built a large fire in the outdoor oven, I made the dough and together, we prepped all the toppings. And then, we just let things flow. Soon, friends arrived and more friends, and pizzas went in and out of the oven and people were spread out all over, doing some eating and drinking but mostly having conversations about their lives: sharing stories, discussing points of view, empathizing about death in the family and the ins and outs of buying a house. In the corner by the fence, Pete played some background banjo, a perfect complement to the many buzzing voices. Though my hands were busy rolling out dough, my ears were free to listen and my mouth was free to add a comment here and there.
The evening had its cycle, with its ebbs and flows. It peaked at about 7:30. And then, there were just a few pizzas left to roll out. A few latecomers joined and the dough was just enough for everyone. Slowly, the group dwindled down to those perched on chairs on the deck. Under the glow of an almost full moon and a few strings of lights, the conversation continued as the darkness moved in. Many hands brought in the last dregs of food and stray dishes. Stella, the dog, lay in the shadows, tired from all the excitement. Slowly, the last guests left, their voices still ringing in the night.
All through the evening, as I watched what was happening around me, I took pictures alright, in my mind. I paused and framed the moments here and there. Jim, with an arm thrust, puts the pizza in the oven as he asks Barb how she’s doing. Amanda and Carly, standing by the table, decide what toppings to use. Carolyn in her chair, silver hair gleaming, arms tanned and strong, looks up as she talks to Jesse. Blurred movement as people move up and down the steps. Marilyn and Doug taking sips out of the communal cup. The sky so huge up above, framed by trees and fences, making this the magical place tonight. So many pictures worth a thousand words are stored in my mind.
My phone stashed in my back pocket didn’t even come close to holding what I held for those few hours shared with others: the nitty gritty up close of precious human life.
And in my heart and mind, I carry that richness. If you do see photos that I share on social media, just know that they don’t replace the real experience; they are my way of “seeing” the good life.