Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cottage Living

Before we went up to Maine for Elaine and Richard's wedding, we crossed an item off my bucket list, by visiting the "summer cottages" in Newport, Rhode Island (you'll remember we road-tripped out to Asheville, NC to see Biltmore a couple of years back, so we figured we might as well see the Vanderbilt's summer place).

It was the perfect way to start a vacation. We pulled up to our charming B&B in the heart of town, and then walked down to the harbor to have our first — of many — lobster rolls of the trip. As we ate outside on a dockside patio, with late evening sun, it felt like another world.

It felt even more so the next day as we zipped through five of the mansions cottages. Of course we started with The Breakers, which was really all we had hoped and more. However, Marble House and The Elms were not too far behind! Perhaps everyone's favorite, however, was the gothic cottage styled Kingscote, one of the earliest of the summer homes. (or last stop, after lunch, was the topiary gardens just outside of town).

We all enjoyed pretending we lived in the homes, picking out which room would be ours, etc. But what really struck Patrick and myself was the craftsmanship. Let's face it, we have many families today who are, comparatively, as wealthy as the Vanderbilts, Berwinds, and Kings were.True, we don't now live with scores of servants and multiple houses (ahem, well, usually…). But where did that kind of amazing creativity go? That love of home that made you want to get every detail perfect, and then entertain to share that with others? It's a great, great loss.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Creating Community

We've spent the last week on the East Coast, out here for my best friend Elaine's wedding.

It's been a week to spend a lot of time thinking about community. On either side of the wedding, we got together with friends who previously we had only "known" on the internet. Beatrix made friends with their kids (she is now pestering for texting and email on her iPad so she can stay in contact), and we had a fantastic time with people we got to know deeper than online relationships can allow.

For the wedding itself, we shared a house with my other best friend, Jennifer — and her family, and our mutual friend Melissa. You would think, after being someone's friend for over 30 years, after knowing her family, after appreciating her husband and children, there would be nothing new left to gain by hanging out for the week. But that would be wrong — they are still at that beach house as I write this, and I desperately wish we were still there laughing and hanging out with them. I feel so very lucky to have them in our lives (and Beatrix thinks their daughter Kelsey is The Best Person In The World).

But it was the wedding itself that really created magic. It was small, about 45 people, and held in Kennebunkport, Maine, where Elaine's grandmother had lived and where she spent summers. Her brother and sister-in-law still live there in the family home. People came from all over: Elaine and Richard and his daughters and friends from Indiana, her parents from DC, his family from Maryland, college friends from New York, some of us from Minnesota, and several places in between.

And I don't know how they did it so well, but over those few days, Elaine and Richard created an awesome little community. A group of those of us that were the closest to them, who will support them in their lives together and who all valued being in this special place to share the day with them. People who forged other relationships with each other, and who now have these relationships and that experience to base them on. People who I now know and value and understand why Richard and Elaine thought it was so important that they were there for their wedding.

I am very, very lucky to be part of this tribe. And we all need this sense of community.