|The "Core Four"|
Today I am in Stratford, Ontario, Canada enjoying the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. This is a tradition I began with three teacher friends, H.J., Sue and Sarah, in 1997. In 1998, Carol joined us for ten years. Throughout the years, we have been accompanied by other teachers off and on, and finally, by my daughter Kate. This is such stuff as memories are made on.
Over the years the “core four” of us has discovered favorite restaurants, merchants, gardens and actors. We have created traditions: first stop—the wine store for our pre-show cocktails. Other traditions include dinner at the tandoori restaurant, a favorite Italian restaurant (now, sadly, closed), a jewelry store and the Wednesday afternoon art fair in the park. We have toured the costume warehouse, stayed for post-performance “talk-backs”, and enjoyed the Festival Theatre’s gardens.
|Kate and me at a book signing|
With the addition of my daughter Kate, we have many added benefits. She is a professional actress with the Pigeon Creek ShakespeareCompany, so she is our dramaturge providing insights and history for the Shakespearean plays we see. Because she has played many of the roles, Kate can describe motivations and nuances we might not discover on our own. We have also decided that once we are all too feeble to navigate the four hour trip, she will become our driver, too.
I have been the organizer of the group since its inception, and I love the role of “cruise director”. I get the catalog of the next year’s shows in November, copy and send out the August calendar, and everyone votes for their top three choices. With a
We have favorite memories like Juan Chioran as Don Quixote in Man of LaMancha, Seana McKenna in Medea, and the time we were in the front row in the Tom Patterson Theatre and an actor came out of his tent and dropped his drawers. The theatre was silent except for my very audible gasp. I still get teased about that one. But the meaning of this annual trip is more than all of that. Over the years, we have shared our joys and frustrations of teaching, of children’s engagements, weddings, heartbreaks, the births of first (and subsequent) grandchildren, the fear and anticipation of retirement which all of the “core four” are enjoying, and other life milestones. Our annual three day trip binds us in ways that is different from other friendships; in a way it is our own measuring of our life’s accomplishments through the eyes of trusted friends. Where am I compared to last year? Five years ago? Ten? With the lens of friendship, our measuring is always kind.
This is sacred time, treasured time. We have traditional pictures of us lined up on the stairs at Cal and Darlene’s or gathered on a porch or deck. Looking at them, the years have treated us well.
I hope you have annual events that live in your heart through memories, too. I’d love to hear about them. I may not be able to respond to Comments until I return on Friday :-)