“I keep it my pocket,” she said referring to what she called her gratitude rock, something my Scottish friend touches often because she feels she has such a good life that she doesn’t want to take it for granted. It reminds her of all that she has.
We were sitting on Cristina’s rooftop terrace (see photo below) sipping local red and nibbling on olives and pistachios. On the table next to us stood three sparkly glass tumblers and a pink peony blossom that had fallen. I debated going home to get my camera to take not just that photo but the one of the chimney shadow etched in sharp lines on the yellow wall.
I didn’t leave, for the conversation was too enjoyable to break. We were all talking about the choices we had made in our lives and the prices we paid, mostly dealing with being away from those we loved. We weren’t sure what was the mythical and what was real, for when you talk about what you didn’t do, you never think of the downsides.
What we did know were the memories of things done, places seen, adventures—both good, bad and often scarey—but most important relationships built. When you aren’t on home ground, communities do not just happen by your birth and staying in one place, they are constructed carefully over conversations, dinners, and the slowly opening up beyond the superficial.
Thus I sat on the rooftop terrace, in the late summer sunlight beginning to fade, enjoying my created community. I didn’t have a gratitude rock—my rock next to my computer—had touched Collette’s grave stone in the hope that something will be transmitted to me when I write, but what I have is gratitude for my life that carried me through the good, the bad and the scarey.