Tuesday of this week my Internet went down, and so did my TV connection. Until I opened my balcony door, my apartment was soundless. Once I did open the door, the sounds of the city had changed. They were all muted. The hum of traffic and overhead wires were subdued and the nearby thumps and rattles of life were muffled. I thought that if this had been Victorian times, it would be similar to the effect of all the horses having stayed in their stables. And yet, this was not actually a transportation shut down. It was a communication outage.
Even though I was looking forward to the happenings at the United Nations, I was glad for the silence . . . for a short while. Then I decided to go through remnants of my collection of favorite singers. Most of my friends would have their radio stations on 95.5, the jazz station by now, but I wanted voices.
I had very little left of the voices of the 60’s and 70’s, so I played everything from Nat King Cole to Andrea Bocelli. The only songs I played over and over were those of Barbra Streisand. I decided that if I had to settle for one singer on that mythical, and probably crowded, desert island, it would be Barbra Streisand.
Streisand sings every song as if she had written it, and it becomes not just a story, but an adventure of emotions with every note and nuance effortless and exactly as it is meant to be as she sings it and you feel it. Unlike the charming Beatles, (exuberant with young manhood who really wanted to hold more than your hand in most of their songs), each of her songs is different and range from “Free Again,” (my favorite) to “Sam, you made the pants too long.”
I was surprised to discover that she dedicated the album “Higher Ground” to Virginia Kelly, President Clinton’s mother who died in 1994, and whom she described as a “professional spitfire and precious friend” who was “unafraid to show unconditional love, kindness and appreciation to everyone she met.”
This week I spent some precious and too little time with two women who are like Virginia Kelly, and I might add, generous to a fault. Joann and Pat are friends of my neighbor and mutual friend, Doug, and they came to Costa Rica for a week, visiting many of the sights and pleasures of the country they had missed on their other visits. They both are older than I but with much more energy. They went on more excursions in a week than I could handle in a month. They truly demonstrate that age is just a number.
The two have been friends for many years, good friends. Both are widows and live in the same town in Florida, and they share their evening meals most nights of the week. They say they eat more healthily and enjoy a glass of wine when they share a meal, besides they both are good cooks. They also enjoy playing games, like Scrabble and cards. (“Playing” and “games” are two words that should never be dropped from our vocabularies, or our lives, no matter how old we are.)
Interestingly, following the communication shutdown, one day I awoke to a fogged in San José. Maybe it was Victorian times, and I was in London Town after all. The fog lasted most of the day and into the evening. I was suspended in a cloud and could not see the stadium a few streets away or even the houses across the street. I could hear the roar of the crowd in the stadium in the evening. They obviously were not going to miss a fútbolgame because of a little weather.
It has been an interesting week. First, cut off from communication with the outside world and then visually isolated from it. It was as if I were indeed, temporarily, on a desert island.