Thursday, November 3, 2011
Shortly after decanting from a cab when arriving at my all-girl college, I was unpacking in the freshman dorm with my newly acquired roommate, Anne. She was from the area and already knew the campus.
I had ploughed my way through a steamer trunk and three of my six suitcases – including two hat boxes – and was exhausted trying to fit all my stuff into half a closet and one small four-drawer chest. I flopped down on the bed exhausted. Anne said “Let’s take a break and go to the ‘Wreck.’” I thought that’s the way it was spelled – “Wreck.”
(Actually, that’s about how students always felt when going there.) But upon approaching the huge underground room for the first time, I saw the sign over the door proclaiming “Rec Room” – meaning, of course, recreation. At this time, in the mid-1950s, this was the only place on campus where we could smoke. And most everybody on campus in those days did smoke. And it was the only place to watch TV. We used to fly down the stairs between classes to take a couple of puffs and if there was time, play a rubber of bridge and then race back up to our next lab or lecture. Ah youth!
It was a long time before I fully appreciated that this room was one place where we could escape the day-to-day schedule if just for a short time and re-create ourselves. Learning to take advantage of opportunities for renewal has been a saving grace for me over the years. We all need our own Rec Room venue. It might be just a short walk, reading a book chapter, taking a nap, saying a prayer, or best of all get-away diversions, taking a trip. But a break from any routine is always welcome.
Thus when Jim came across a unique opportunity and surprised me recently with an impromptu weekend on Hilton Head – just the two of us – I packed with the speed of light and we were quickly on the way to reconstruct ourselves. It was great. We had no real schedule. We-got-not-one-phone-call. We explored the island, ate three restaurant meals a day (oh heaven!) and there was no cooking, cleaning or yard work. (Need I mention that I managed to squeeze in a shopping foray?) If that was all, that would have been wonderful. But we were able to make a couple of unexpected personal connections.
We’d heard that the widow of one of Jim’s favorite commanders was living on the island. We tracked her down and for the first time in over 40 years, visited, laughed and reminisced about our Air Force years together and wished her well on her upcoming 90th birthday! The next morning relatives we haven’t seen for a good while traveled from Savannah to join us for breakfast and we all had a wonderful mini reunion, catching up on the Hill family two generations below us.
We sat on bright red rocking chairs and watched the shore and the boats and the birds. We enjoyed fresh oysters, crab and shrimp. We hugged an old friend and cherished kin. We enjoyed doing all this together in our own Rec Room experience.
End result: two Hills – well rebooted in mind and spirit.