Planning and Capturing a Passing Moment

the other night back from Florida at home alone without Lisa and the kids
perfect opportunity for heading to Mount Pleasant Street for some bachelor grub

was not sure if I was headed for Cheapie Chinese from ChinaTown, rotissery chicken from the Peruvian Chicken join; El Pollo, or head into the local "Cheers" aka Tonic for some solid gormet bar food and a few adult flavored drinks
I weigh
my options as I walk... keeping those top three options as my main considerations
sure there are multiple
Pupusarias to choose from, but that is not where I am headed on this evening... that is not to say that Don Juan and Haydees are not frequent feeding frenzy options
then it occurred to me that maybe my old neighbor was available for getting a drink
lets just call this neighbor John... as John is his name
so I headed up Lamont Street instead of the parallel option of Park Road
this is familiar terroitory
back to my old block just several doors down from our old place
yet still just a few blocks from our new house... well our several year old 100 year old house

John is a few years older than myself, married, has a wonderful preteen daughter and a law practice and an old Boxer named Maggie and a wife who I love and respect dearly
John and I have shared a million stories on a million different days
but now that I am several blocks away all those chance meetings are missed
no longer do we catch each other on that last dog walk of the night
not headed out to the car or taking out the trash
or shoveling the front walks on those very infrequent Washington DC Snow Days
it just is not the same

so I try to make the occasional visit when passing by on the bike or times like this when I am headed up the block
with a glance at the watch it is a tad later than I would like to knock on the door of a family's house
this is not a frequent thing
so, I stop in and his wife invites me up
she is a wonderful women.... a strong women... a beautifully strong women.... I am scared of her
not in a bad way.... just in a way that I know to keep my place
we are friends... but only on the days she wants to be friends

in any case...
she invites me up
I get a glass of water after my two hour single speed spin on pavement
throat parched
john and I start into the usual topics... bush bashing politics... neighborhood politics... neighborhood hot topics... you name it.... we are covering it
once we start things get rolling...

I like John... he is a good friend
his faults remind me of myself

caught john at the wrong time.... he is headed to the "Y" to work out

yet.... we have started talking.... and when we start talking.... we can talk
several times I go to leave.... john draws me back in..... then as I am stepping out the door again I step back in to finish a thought or maybe to tangent hop into another topic that seems vital at the time...

I have already tried to leave so that I am not John's excuse for working out
as I leave John gives me a sound piece of advice,

"planning.... great things are achieved through planning!"

or something to that effect.... I am not sure as I am not sure if I was listening.... with a pat on the back and a shake of the hand john responds to my blank stare with explanation,

"call ahead... you should call ahead next time"

john is right... but without hesitation and without thinking I send this old lawyer my counter point,

"in life you need to snatch up opportunity when it presents itself... I have not done much planning in the this life but I have managed to do pretty well by recognizing a good opportunity when it presents itself."

I am not lawyer but I do enjoy being that obnoxious devil's advocate from time to time

we are both right...

there has to be a balance between planning and ceasing the moment

John and I have not gone out for a drink that many times
the last time I had a drink with John... well other than on his porch on Halloween evening
it was during last summer the night his wife went away with their daughter to a caribbean island for some work and for some play
that was chance and timing
don't always ask
but happened to ask at a moment in time where he had the freedom to just do whatever
that night was a night for me to do whatever
it is hard to plan for whatever

last week... or maybe two weeks ago... whatever...
when we arrived to Marco Island it was already getting late

not quite sunset, but getting there
there had been plane flights and long drives all in addition to an afternoon visit with my self sufficient 95 year old grandmother
upon arrival Marco there was the car to unload and greetings to exchange
after Dean and Grant had a little time with Pa and Miga (grandpa and grandma)
Dean and I headed to the beach for a little sunset and sand inbetween the toes action
as the sun set we combed the beach dodging the waves of the cool water as the ambient temperature dropped slowly with the sun

as I looked in the water I could see an assortment of shells caught in the tide right at the break
already shoeless I walked out to take a closer look pulling a small Conch shell then a Lightning whelk.... both without an organism inside.... both very clean, pure, and pretty
I showed Dean... we started to collect some of these shells
it must have been from a storm a few days prior...... usually there are not such an abundance of pristine shells at the shore..... usually when a shell is found in this condition the organism is still living or recently dead inside
conch or whelk soup..... YUK!
Dean spent more time gathering the half shells of various clams and mollusks
with no bag or no pale I we id not grab that many shells
after all.... this was just day one of a stay over a week long

sure enough
tonight I picked out a nice Conch and a pretty Tulip Shell for Grant's babysitter Soledad
Soledad is also a very strong women who happens to live a few doors down
out of the Whelks, Olive Shells, no Sharkeyes although they are common to this area, a various other shells whose name I do not know
with Soledad... she could love the shells or shrug her shoulders
soledad is as complex as she is strong

as it turns out that night was special
on no other day were there so many shells of this quality to be found
perhaps the early nerds had already scooped up the good ones
or maybe it was just a weird dynamic of timing
I am sure that the timing was such that shelling was not a priority for the rest of the trip
so I was lucky in my ability to capture that moment before it passed
certainly there were other moments for shelling
but apparently I was able to over lap my interest in shelling with the timing of the greatest presentation of shells

good thing I had not planned on shelling on the Monday after this day
as that would not have been the best time or opportunity

one last thing about John
as he is older and has experienced many things before I have
with time he has had the time to ponder such moments
so at times John shares with me the wisdom of life
at this very serious moment John tells......

"after a certain amount of time the relationship of marriage becomes something
more similar to brother and sister"

to that I rapidly responded....

"well that is fine for you and your wife.... as you are from West Virginia.... you guys can still have a good sexual relationship.... that sucks for the rest of us!"

call me simple but I love a good West Virginia joke
John has some great stories and some great wisdom.... he is a great friend
I think I will have to call him so that we can get a drink
can't always depend on chance!
not sure how to plan to capture a moment, but I guess I will have to try