Putting on the Ritz….

You don’t know what you don’t know.

You don’t miss what you never had.

But once you know you can never not know.

So it was for me.

Tom and I celebrated our anniversary at the Ritz. I had never been before. I adjusted quite easily to living in the lap of opulence, my every want catered to. It was quite addicting.

Yet old habits do die hard. The first day I tried to clear my dishes at the included-in-the-price-of-the-room Club Lounge that offered elegantly displayed delectable light fare all day ending with dessert and cordials in the evening. I discretely determined self clean-up was not protocol when I couldn’t find the Panera-like silverware and dish bins. The cloth napkins and glassware also informed me I would not need to decipher a multi labeled recycle bin, unsure of where to dump the paper, plastics and compostables.

So, I graciously rose from my seat, thanked the server and strolled out of the keyed door acting as if I had done this since birth. Once out in the dimly lit, peacock feather ensconced hallway, I grabbed Toms arm like an excited child insisting we did that again. What an elegant treat. And it was free…in a way.

Because of the two weddings, two weeks apart, Tom and I decided to postpone our anniversary celebration until we could put our hearts into it.

Supporting that decision was a gift from Lincoln — the car maker. We recently bought a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and because we had to wait 8 weeks for delivery, Lincoln gifted us with an overnight stay at the Ritz and $350 for expenses. Not bad, huh?

So we drove our new car to Boston, a city I have flown into on my way to Cape Cod, but IMG_1083never spent time exploring. We walked Boston Commons, today resplendent with a magical carousel of sea horses, roosters, and rabbits, but where public executions once were held, women were convicted of consorting with the devil and expunged and Matoonas, an Algonquian, was tied to a tree and shot. We found the intersection of Joy Street and Beacon Street where Oliver Wendall Holmes proposed to Amelia Lee Jackson by asking her if she would take the long path with him. He went on to say, “If you take the long path with me now, I shall interpret it that we are to part no more.” She accepted, saying, “I will walk the long path with you.” Tom and I reenacted this conversation as we walked their path. We explored the harbor, got ice cream cones and sat to watch young, virile, boy/men practice their skateboarding stunts on the concrete pier.

When we returned to our room, on the 12th floor over looking the city, we were surprised by a bottle of champagne chilling in ice, two fluted glasses and a plate of dark and white chocolate covered strawberries. Next to strawberries was hand addressed note, written in the expert penmanship of a 2nd grade teacher, wishing us a happy anniversary.

I was enchanted.

And disturbed.

I don’t know how much the room cost but the room allowance on the Lincoln voucher was for $750.00.  One night here could feed a small village.

I wanted to a find monument in the commons apologizing to the women and Native American that died due to ignorance and hatred instead memorials to war heroes. I wanted to challenge all of us at the Ritz for spending this kind of money on an overnight stay. I loved the opulence and felt its seduction. I felt concern for the young children, drinking the orange and thyme infused water in the lobby, that they would think this normal fare. And perhaps it is for them, but, I wondered, what happens if they cannot support themselves in this manner when they reach the age of self reliance. Will they resent the Red Roof Inn they take their families to on their vacations?

You can take the girl out of middle class, but you can’t take the middle class out of the girl. And, sometime I just think too much.

I gave space to my contradictions, knowing more about myself as a result and then let it all go, enjoying the hell out of our brief stay. Grateful for the gift and the tale to tell.

 
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I was touched…

Tom and I spent the night in Boston on our way to Cape Cod. Boston is a city I have flown into and promptly driven out of, but not a city I ever explored. So as a late anniversary celebration we used a gift voucher for a free night at the Ritz — that story later — and took in the sites of Boston.

After an afternoon of walking, we cabbed it from the harbor back to the hotel. Tom has been nursing a plantar fasciitis foot and I a sore knee from too much high heel dancing at my step daughter’s wedding. Also, it was hot and we sweaty.

Tom immediately asked the cabbie to open the windows. Please.

As we drove thru the crowded, spaghetti noodled streets of Boston I rested my arm out of the window, my hand on the sill. I was glad to be sitting. We slowed to an intersection preparing to turn left. On the sidewalk, waiting for the white lighted person signaling it is safe to cross, was a group of people. I barely noticed them until a 20-something-year-old man/child stepped out of the group and extended his hand toward the taxi…and me. At first I thought he wanted to get in.

Something in his movement told me he wasn’t looking for a ride. What he was intending was to side five with me. High five only sideways.

I instinctively reached out my hand to him.

Our palms met. Gently. Softly. Quite tenderly.

I have touched strangers before. Usually it is by accident, bumping into them, hitting arms or shoulders resulting in one of us apologizing for our clumsiness. We did not, you see, mean to touch one another. Earlier that morning I tried not to touch a stranger as we bobbed and weaved attempting to get out of each others way in the narrow hotel hallway. Our politeness securing our distance.

But this was different. This was intentional. We reached for each other. We meant to touch.

I felt something in this moment of contact with this total stranger. It is still with me.

I felt/feel hope. I felt/feel the simplicity of a moment fully lived. I feel the impact of being reached for by another. I feel the power of reaching back. I feel hope for us as a culture when we can reach out and touch each other for no other reason but to make contact.

I don’t know anything about this guy. Does he live in Boston or like me was he just visiting? Does he like his life? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he studying something that excites him? I will never know the answers to these questions. I will most likely never see him again. I probably would not even recognize him if I literally ran into him.

And, if I did, I would probably excuse my gracelessness.
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