I had a very special erev Shabbat: dinner with three wonderful women I'd never met in person before, in one of my favorite towns. This evening I drove over the mountains to Northampton to meet Leslee (of Third House Party), Lorianne (of Hoarded Ordinaries), and Andi (of Ditch the Raft). Andi and Lorianne were in town for a Women Practicing Buddhism conference at Smith; Leslee and I joined them for dinner on the spur of the moment, and I'm so glad we did.
We met in a bookstore downtown, then walked in the glorious spring evening air to the block with all of my favorite restaurants in it. Amanouz being full to the brim, we wound up at La Veracruzana, which was a little bit silly since Leslee just got back from Mexico, but we figured it was a better bet than sushi since Andi is about to move back to Korea where Japanese food is plentiful and not all that exciting.
We clinked beer bottles and toasted our togetherness. We talked about travel (Leslee told great stories about Holy Week in Mexico) and religious paths (Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism) and religious ideas (prayer, meditation, and sacrifice) -- totally my idea of a good time! Andi was a good sport and answered all of our questions about her intent to pursue ordination as a Buddhist nun. I already knew I admired her commitment to her path, but now I also know I admire her good humor and her warm energy, too. It sounds like she'll spend at least six years in Korea, probably more like ten, but she hopes to return to the States someday, to bring her new knowledge and groundedness to bear on the place of her origins. Yay.
The meal zipped by too fast; afterwards Leslee headed home, Andi and Lorianne went to a talk at Smith, and I (again, operating on a spur-of-the-moment whim) met an old friend for Vietnamese coffee at the Haymarket before returning home. On the way to the coffee shop I walked slowly, enjoying the night air, the sounds of motorcycles moving slowly through town, snippets of overheard conversation. This is the first really warm evening we've had, and the streets of Northampton were beautifully alive: pierced kids with multicolored hair sitting in flocks on the sidewalk, buskers playing guitar and trumpet, couples holding hands, people walking with clove cigarettes or ice cream cones.
I came away feeling genuinely blessed to know such smart, open-hearted people. We come from different places, and we're walking different paths, and connecting with each other is just so damn cool. Thanks for the evening, y'all, and three cheers for the internet! Shabbat shalom.