Monday, 30 May 2011

Little Runaway

cloister ceiling at San Zoilo, Carrion de los Condes
We talk about running away, Paddy and me. We want to go to Venice, or Turkey, or maybe even Japan.
But we have four dogs and ten chickens, a cat and a canary, and a house where people like to find us this time of year.
We cannot run away, not without somebody going hungry or lonely.
And so we wait for a day when no one is supposed to come, a sunny day usually, when nothing else is going on. And we get in the car and run away to somewhere not too far.
People say The Peaceable is "in the middle of nowhere."
But we always jump in and tell them no. The Peaceable is "in the middle of everywhere."
The region is peppered with historic sites, tiny private museums of farm implements and folk costumes and historic or architectural ephemera, Roman remains, mouldering convents, converted mosques, hermit caves... It´s a delicious mix, if you like this sort of thing.
Which we do, very much.
And Saturday, we ran away for just a few hours, and touched on no less than three wonders.
St. Martin family homestead
We drove our little car east on the N120, the two-lane that goes past our back gate. It took us past Terradillos and Ledigos and hordes of hiking pilgrims, past the little Roman villa in the cornfield, and on to Cervatos de la Cueza, a place almost nobody goes anymore.
Cervatos Boy Made Good
And there, tucked along the road, three hundred-some years ago, was raised a great family of Spanish soldiers by the name of San Martin. The greatest of these generals and colonels was Don Juan San Martin, one of the founders of the Republic of Argentina. Argentina since, in thanks for Cervatos´ part in its glorious beginning, rebuilt the local church (in a jolly Argentine style), erected a statue of Don Juan in the plaza, and preserved as a museum the little half-timber adobe farmhouse where the military brood was raised.
The little town is plastered with plaques and commemorations. We asked about seeing inside the house, but the guy who keeps the keys was not in the plaza nor the bar up the street.
Cervatos´ Argentine church
So we will go back some other day. It looks like a very cool little house. I wanna see inside.
But if was too hot to wait around the Plaza, so we carried on east to Carrion de los Condes. In English, "carrion" means "dead animal carcass." In Spanish, it is the name of a river and a town and a ruling family made infamous in the medieval Spanish classic "El Cid."

the church at San Zoilo monastery
 Carrion de los Condes is a Camino town full of historic treasures and convents as well as tractor dealers and very good hardware stores. Saturday we stopped first at the Royal Monastery of San Zoilo, a Benedictine foundation that grew like crazy for a while, and then seems to have suddenly hit the wall. The part that is not now a deluxe hotel is a dusty old church with a great pipe organ and some grand tombs, a fabulous library, and a cloister with breathtaking ceilings. Oh, and a couple of huge Arab tapestries, in almost perfect condition, that are a good thousand years old. It is on the camino out of town, so most pilgrims just hoof right past the front gate in the morning.
Thousands of lives were lived inside those walls. Five times a day for hundreds of years that church rang with songs and music and worship. On Saturday, with the sun crashing through its high windows, it felt as empty as an airplane hangar. It is awesome in its size and age and forgottenness.
gargoyle
Over the bridge and uptown we walked. We stopped in a junk shop and I coveted old French clocks, the tick-tock pendulum kind, whirring away in a barn alongside a zinc bathtub and a new Audi. (Antique shops are surprisingly rare in Spain. People here never get rid of anything.) Up the main street we stopped at the old Church of Santiago, now roofed-over with iron and done-up as the parochial art museum.
It is a little treasure house, full of the very kind of thing you´d imagine finding in a pirate´s wooden chest: silver crowns, golden crosses, and rosaries made of coral, gilded statues, heavy keys, robes crisply crimped and embroidered with metallic threads by a hundred nuns in the far-off  Phillippines.
Carrion parish museum
It all is nicely displayed, and there´s not too much of it. I wish I´d brought my sisters there. 
From the church we walked past the Plaza Mayor to the Bar España, a crossroads where the Camino flows into town, and the bus to Leon stops and picks up the pilgrims who can´t take any more Meseta. It´s got prime people-watching tables set out on the pavement, and one of the biggest and finest gin-and-tonics on the trail. We had us one of those. And we took pictures of pilgrims taking pictures of one another.
From there we went to the Rincon de Hamburguesas, and ordered cheeseburgers and patatas bravas, and watched the crash-and-burn report from the Formula 1 races on the TV overhead. The food was wonderfully fatty -- a rarity in a place where all the beef is really veal. Paddy said it was vile, and that he loved it.
video
And then we hiked back over the river and through the woods to our car, and back to home we went. The dogs hardly had time to miss us.  (we took them later to a little lake we discovered recently... my attempt at video is (hopefully) above.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Por Fin

The Old Teacher House, demolished this week to make room for the new bodega restaurant.

May, a month of non-stop company. People I love, people I like, people I kinda tolerate. The Visitor Book tells the tale.
People with whom I have an instant rapport: Denise, a pilgrim from New Zealand. She rubbed my neck and shoulders after a very long day. It is usually me who does this for other people. When it happens to me, it is something truly special. And when I need it as deeply as I did that day, well. It is divine. 
Generous People: Dael the Scot. A retired traffic cop is not the person I would usually pick out for ongoing companionship, but Dael came here at his own expense and spent three weeks working his tail off, for nothing, right alongside me. He did not complain, or say no, nor even punch out a drunk who criticized his kilt. He worked so hard and so efficiently he worked himself right out of a job. He was supposed to stay through the end of May, but finished up everything a week early. So now he is off walking the Camino Ingles (even though he finds the name of it repugnant). He will go back home to Hibernia once the great Icelandic ash cloud passes... or so I assume. A simple and generous man, who puts his back into work he believes in.
People who are part of our lives: Dennis, another Scotsman and habitual pilg, lives in France but stops by here now and then -- he came to Moratinos this time straight from the Nation´s Capitol, on the Camino de Madrid. (all roads lead to Moratinos!) He is a former steelworker and high-school teacher, educated and  opinionated. Paddy enjoys the intellectual company... and someone who can match him wineglass for wineglass. I trained him to be a hospitalero last year, and this morning he is off to France to volunteer at a small pilgrim gite in LePuy -- ash cloud permitting.
John rolled up, too, an English pilgrim who stayed with us last year. He is tall and bony and very funny, and handy. He and Dael installed a much-needed new light fixture in our kitchen before church on Sunday, thus saving us a good 50 Euro that would otherwise go to an electrician. It works just fine. But John emailed from Mansilla de las Mulas, two days after he took to the trail again: While looking at the ceiling in the last albergue I am minded to strongly suggest that you get the next Peregrino with DIY skills to tighten the hook on which your kitchen lights hang --wood breathes and with changes in humidity the screw hook may loosen,"   he wrote.
Me and Dennis fixed it this morning. John, you can rest easy now.
Tourists: We´ve also hosted pilgrims sent our way by Daniel, the entrepreneur hospitalero who is opening the two-star Hostal Moratinos here in town someday very soon. (He hosts people in Carrion de los Condes, a long day´s walk to the east.) He sends his hikers on to us lately, at least he does until he opens his own place out on the opposite end of town. Some of them are great -- including NZ Denise above. These travelers are an economic class above the usual run of pilgrims. They stay at hotels, hostels, casas rurales. They don´t mind spending money, unless they can find a great deal.
We are a great deal, or at least we were for one German man this week. He is an executive for a luxury auto company. His feet were a mess. We patched him up and fed and watered him, put him in a good bed, reserved him a room in a four-star in Leon (he speaks no Spanish), and I took him along when I drove there. For all this he gave us his hearty thanks, and 50 Euros. (the taxi fare there alone would be 100 Euro, and he knew that.) I had business in Leon anyway, so it was not a complete loss. But I decided to give up on driving pilgs there unless it´s an emergency. It is always somehow a losing proposition.
And then there are Divine Providence people. They take up the slack. I think of the two sweet Irish ladies who stayed last night in the Salon. They scrubbed their own laundry, they stripped their beds, they even washed up the dishes after dinner. Just hearing them talk was like soft music. This morning at dawn they  gave us hearty thanks, too -- and a donativo that more than paid the tab for the executive German skinflint.  
(After they left it took a while to find where they´d put the sheets. They turned up in the clothes hamper in the bathroom. Imagine using a hamper for its intended purpose!)
We have a couple of other people about the place now: Albaniles. Giorgio and Achtzehn (or something like that) are Bulgarian immigrant builders, and I gotta say this... They leave their Spanish counterparts in the dust when it comes to price, quality, communication skills, and work ethic. By 9 a.m. each of the last two days they´ve been up on the garage roof, hammering and cementing and installing. And when a big thunderstorm rolled through this evening, the garage was, for the first time in several years, leak-free. They will repair the winter-damaged main roof, too, and they install a new paved patio out back, with a drainage channel. (Dael advised me these are jobs too big for me and my volunteer legions. My aching joints thank him.)
I have another volunteer coming in July to help with heavy things. I wonder if there will be any heavy things left for him to do! Meantime, Moratinos is heaving with heavy equipment, builders, pilgrims, and important-looking men with clipboards. Progress is here. I am not always sure I like it, but some people say we started it.
These enterprises are locuras, José told me -- foolishness, wild dreams. José and his brother Esteban, farmers and fertilizer dealers, are dreamers. They are building a bar and restaurant in a cave in a town that had no services at all a few months ago... and will have three bar-restaurants when theirs is finished. 
"You wake up one morning with notion," José told me. "Like you guys, leaving everything and moving to Moratinos. For some people, a locura works."
May God bless José´s locura the same way he´s blessed ours. (Maybe they should name the place "La Cueva de Locuras?") 
Today we took Dennis and an injured Norwegian lady and four backpacks to Sahagun. When we came back to The Peaceable, nobody was here but me and Patrick.
Nobody is scheduled to arrive before next Tuesday.
Nobody except the builders, who like to leave us alone, and the dogs, who give as good as they get.
I love pilgrims, and family, and visitors, and friends, and I really like volunteers. 
And after a non-stop month of all these blessings, I am ever so happy to just sit here with Tim, Rosie, and Murphy, listening to another storm blowing in.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Ticks

Ticks are bad this year. It is spring, and our dogs have ticks. I have sprayed them, collared them, brushed them, and washed them, and still the big creatures have little creatures attached. I remove the bugs whenever I find them. I carefully kill each one. I am no longer squeamish about ticks. They are part of life here, like tractor noise and dust and smelly pilgrim boots.   

In the last few days, when I sat down on my end of the sofa to write, twice I have found a little black tick walking across the skin on the back of my neck. I carefully killed each one. I try not to be squeamish about them. But when they are walking on ME, (even though the vet assures me the local ticks don´t bite humans, and they are very seasonal), I get squeamish. Where do they come from? Are they living in the sofa, in my clothing? Are they living on me? Will people see, and know? Will they wonder if they will get ticks, too, from visiting here? Are we unclean, unsanitary, nasty, bad people? 

Today we cleaned the living room, removed the rugs, vacuumed out the sofa and chairs, washed the floors and cushions dog beds. No bugs anywhere.

It was only after dinner, after everyone else went to bed, I found the second little critter.

We have three German pilgrims staying with us tonight. They are nice men, smart, educated, professional. I wonder if, as we discussed over Rueda Verdejo the ages-old merger of Daimler and Chrysler, if they might have seen a shiny black bug walk casually over my collar-bones and into the collar of my shirt.  I wonder what they might have thought, whilst puzzling out my conjugations of verstehen, if their beds are infested. But they went willingly enough to sleep there in the salon, so I think I am safe. For now. I am not infested. I am clean, and healthy, and decent enough, and my house is as scrubbed as it will ever be.

I looked at the bug. It made me think.  

It is a tiny creature with a shiny black coat and many legs. It is subtle and quiet, its movements almost indetectable. It does only what it is designed to do. It is unaware and unaffected by its repugnant rep among humans. It gets on with its business.

I thought of the greyhounds, and Rosie, and Perla, the neighbor´s little grey-black dog. Perla looks like a charcoal drawing of a dog, she is all cute scruff and fur and yap. Rosie is about the same size as Perla, and she likes to bark at the gate of Perla´s house when we pass by, just to make trouble.

And this morning, trouble happened. Perla was loose. Paddy was coming home from the morning hike with all four of our dogs. Tim ran up to the little pup to say hello, wagging his stumpy tail. Rosie ran after, yapping. Lulu the greyhound, seeing all that small-dog leaping, went hysterical on the end of her lead, slipped her specially-designed greyhound collar, and leapt full-speed down the street and instantly pinned the pup. Harry promptly followed. The poor little dog was overwhelmed. Paddy fell down.

Thank God somehow the petrified Perla was extracted from the fray before any real damage was done.
A badly shaken Paddy reappeared in the house soon after, with our four sheepish dogs in tow. The greyhounds were shut inside the barn, disgraced. Rosie hid herself away. Only Tim, the Besty Dog, was allowed in the house. It was a long, sad morning. Paddy finally went over to Perla´s house, to make sure everything was OK. Pilar, Perla´s owner, seemed bemused by the whole affair.
Spaniards are amazingly matter-of-fact about dog behavior. "Dogs are animals," they say with a shrug.

Lulu was born and raised to hunt and kill hares. She is not an intelligent dog, but she is a skilled hunter. And any animal, cat or dog, rabbit or mouse, that moves quickly along the ground and squeals when she bites it is fair game to her. It is her nature. Like a tick, she can´t help but do what she is meant for.

It is up to We the People to ensure she does her thing far from where she can kill pets or livestock. (She and Nabi killed one of Julia´s hens last year.) As dogs go, Lulu is a problem child. We love her very much, but we have to do something about her behavior. 

We need to get real with ourselves.
Maybe four dogs is just too much. Maybe we need to get rid of Lulu, a neurotic at best, and a sociopath at worst. Perhaps we ought to start keeping Tim and Rosie outdoors, so they can´t bring vermin and dirt inside. And Murphy Cat, whose white fur is ingrained in the cushion of his favorite chair. I have asthma. This can´t be good for me. 

If we did not have so many animals, we could live in a smaller place that did not require so much backbreaking, expensive, ongoing maintenance. Seeing as the pilgrim traffic is pretty much cared-for now by Bruno, we don´t need so much extra space. It wouldn´t be so much housework for me. We wouldn´t need to bring in people like Thomas and Kim and Dael to help us maintain the place.

Without extra people around, we wouldn´t need a vegetable garden, or so many hens. We wouldn´t be troubled by out-of-the-blue Germans, or beautiful word-of-mouth Kiwi massage-goddesses, or the niggling need to design a new sello stamp for pilgrim credentials. We could read books all day, and grow orchids, and write our memoirs.

We wouldn´t be allergic, or dusty, or overwhelmed in summer. We would not spend so much money.

And we wouldn´t be The Peaceable Kingdom any more. 

Like ticks, and greyhounds, we have to be what we are.


 

Friday, 13 May 2011

Progress

"In Castile, the landscape is in the sky."  -- Delibes
The sisters swept back to America on Friday, and Dael the Scotsman swept in. Their visits overlapped by a day, so Beth and Mart got photos of a Kilted Scot, to add to everything else they saw In Spain. 
It was a long way back from Madrid, alone in the car. I ran into a ferocious hailstorm -- part of a string of terrible weather that damaged crops and sowed mayhem all over the meseta that afternoon. I could see the storm approach for miles, then I could hear it -- the hail popped like corn up the autopista, then crashed onto the car like a million jawbreakers. (I was safely parked under a bridge, having learned my lessons in tornado country for several years.) Happily, nothing was hurt here in Moratinos. We seem to live a charmed life these days.

I hung Bob the Canary´s cage outside on the wellhead on sunny Tuesday morning, after giving it a cleaning. Bob sang out to his friends, the sparrows up in the spruce tree. And then, right in front of me and Paddy, Bob hopped to the still-open door of the cage and flew away to join them! 

He sang up there for a while, dazzling them all. I started to cry. And then he flew back down onto the wellhead, looking for his home. I ran over to the well to nab him. 

For the next hour and a half he led me on a chase -- all over the patio, over the wall into the driveway, under the Jesus Car, and deep into the rosemary hedge. He worked with his camouflage (Bob is a grey canary), and gave me the slip in the high grass next to Pilar´s field of rye. 

Paddy brought me a chair, and sunglasses, and his hat. I sat out there and waited. I cried. I went in and got the sickle and cut the little lawn next to the driveway, and called on the Patron Saints of Lost Things, and Animals, and the Peaceable. And I called to Bob. And soon after I finished hacking at the high grass, I saw something moving up there, just next to the path... Bob. I grabbed him from above, popped him into his cage in the patio, and slid shut the door. He sang his little heart out through the rest of the afternoon, none the worse for wear. 

I took a good nap. Crying wears me out.

The crops are amazing. Heads are fully formed on the standing grain -- the wind combs it with its fingers, the spaces alongside are filling with poppies and cornflowers and daisies. All these things are not supposed to happen til June, at least far as I remember. Nobody is complaining. 

The potato plants growing out back of our house are huge. The artichoke plants are huge. The lettuces and spinach and parsley will soon overrun everything else out there. (We are eating salads with every meal!) Out in the field beyond Segundino´s carpentry shop, his brother Manolo planted a great swath in... potatoes. Why potatoes? "There´s a hotel opening on one end of town, and an albergue on the other, and a restaurant going into the bodegas," he said. Potatoes. Of course! His potatoes are well up now, dots of dark green, planted in neat rows. He is a practical man.

Tim loves hangin at Bruno´s
Tonight, over at Hostal San Bruno, 25 people sat down to dinner. The place is packed to the rafters with pilgrims, as well as people stopping by to sample the Italian cuisine. Bruno is still smiling, but a bit raveled round the edges. He brought on some help. Georgieu, the Bulgarian builder who helped him finish the building project, and his wife Maria, are cooking and waiting tables. Their little boy Lorenzo adds a wonderful spark of youth to the place. They want to live in Moratinos, Georgieu says. There is no place to rent here, welcome as they might be. 

Not yet, anyway. There are so many works going on in town, something might just open up.
three abandoned bodegas went

Over at the bodegas, the Esteban/Milagros family bought up several of the abandoned and collapsed wine caves, and just yesterday started digging into their ambitious bodega restaurant plan. Soon the tumbledown Teacher House will go, as well as a couple of other condemned buildings in town. A new roof is going onto another tiny house, so the restaurant staff will have a place to live. 

On our side of the mountain, the bodega roof project is finally happening. Dael, the hard-working Scot, hacked away the grass, and the two of us hauled great rolls of cut-to-size asphalt-aluminum roof sheeting up there. We lapped the edges, threw some clods of dirt on top, and ran for cover when another storm rolled in. So far it is still up there where we left it. That was the easy part... Now we have to haul a couple of tons of dirt up there, to cover over the roofing material. 
Dael the Scot, atop our bodega

We took today off.  I spent most of today in bed, laid low by a gastric bug that´s put Paddy out of commission, too. I am feeling better now. By tomorrow I will be in shape for dirt-slinging. Dael did not take a break: While Paddy and I lolled in our beds of affliction, Dael weed-whacked the front and back and sides of the house, watered the garden, and finished sculpturally stacking the 5 tons of firewood out back. (Dael is supposed to go home in a couple of weeks, but I am not sure he will be allowed.) 

And Dael is only the first in a string of pilgrims who visited here before, and are now returning to stay and work with, and for, The Peaceable. I keep thanking him. He keeps telling me "nae, tis nowt lassie, innit?" Dael is a retired policeman from Fife. He smokes a wee pipe, and has quite the brogue going on. (Sometimes understanding him is a bit like talking to Georgieu the builder, whose Spanish is really Italian with a Bulgarian accent.)

Anyone who´s done the pilgrimage knows how the Holy Spirit Gift of Tongues operates out here. Somehow, just about everyone manages to communicate.

Canary-song, earth-movers, hammer-blows, tractors, and a dozen different languages. It is not language. It is music. 









Thursday, 5 May 2011

It´s Tuesday, This Must be Burgos

Wow, what a week it was!

Two sisters who´d never seen Spain before. Ten days, and an entire country to show them. So here is what we did and where we went:

Day 1: Met Beth and Mart at Madrid airport. We drove to Moratinos from there, stopping for a little while in Lerma, a cool little town south of Burgos with the country´s fastest-growing convent of cloistered nuns. Beth and Mart both still, miraculously, wide awake, and snapping photos of everything in sight.

Day 2: Local. Villa Olmeda, a Roman villa; lunch with Paddy at Pili´s Casa de Comidas, a working-man´s café in Villada (Martea never ate rabbit before!); then to Villacreces, a jolly little abandoned ghost town. Fascinating place, and not another tourist in sight. Then to Grajal de Campos, home to our local castle and down-at-the-heels Renaissance palace; and into the Plaza Mayor in Sahagún for a vermouth in the Plaza Mayor.

Day 3: Road Trip! Drove north into the mountains, stopping first at Cueva de Castillo, a complex of limestone caves that are dotted with 4,000 years´ worth of Paleolithic artwork – some of it dating back 21,000 years! (I can´t believe I have lived here this long and never went to see the abundance of cave-painting sites so nearby... and these ones are the real thing, still there on the walls where they´ve always been. Beautiful paintings. And no one knows why they are there.) We continued north to the big cave-painting complex and museum at Altamira, where Spain´s best examples are securely sealed-off from humanity – but we still oohed and aahed over an exact copy of the biggest and most spectacular cavern. Very worthwhile. Downright inspiring, really.

Being good tourists, we drove to Santillana del Mar, a painfully charming little town nearby, to walk the historic streets and see the historic church and cloister – which apparently has some link to Camino churches in Fromista, Jaca, and Leon, judging from the Cistercian architectural details. It dawned on me that Santillana is dead on the Camino del Norte! Duh!

And so we soldiered onward and west to Comillas, a seaside town with a drop-dead collection of Art Moderne and Deco buildings, including one fascinating “Capricchio” by Antoni Gaudi – he of the freaky Barcelona Parque Güell and Sagrada Familia fame. We walked on the beach, we ate a great mountain of shellfish, we visited a steampunk graveyard...

Day 4: We hung out at the Gaudi place, we splashed in the Cantabrian Sea, we headed south through the high mountains to Potes and on to Santo Toribio de Liebana, an important and very ancient monastic shrine were a big slab of The True Cross is kept. It started raining. I did not get a good vibe from the place, perhaps because I could understand the fulminations of the rabid preacher in charge. The gift shop was a trip, though: I bought a shot glass there that comes with a vision! (add clear liquids and Santo Toribio appears on the bottom). Long drive home, spectacular scenery.

Day 5: Stormy and wet. We stayed home and rested, seeing as it was Sunday. At the vermut after Mass Leandra brought some superb homemade croquetas and pork cracklings. Beth and Mart were in heaven!
Day 6: The sun reappeared, and we drove west along the Camino to Pedredo, the tiny village where Malin and David live – just west of Astorga. We walked over meadows and streams all dotted with wildflowers, heard cuckoos calling, saw a set of petroglyphs carved into a rock face – discovered only three years ago! We ate a “parillada,” a feast of lamb, veal, and pork perfectly grilled. We drove up to Rabanal del Camino and visited Pat the Hospitalera. We hit the heights of the Camino at the Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross where people leave behind mementos. And then we said goodbye to Malin and David, and headed for Astorga. There was a fiesta going on, with Maragato folk dancers as well as a few local break-dancers. A great many photos were taken... and then we checked into what I thought was a Casa Rural (a nice B&B inn) but that turned out to be an Earl´s house, done over into a tiny hotel: La Casa Tepa. Wow. Simply Wow.

Day 7: We slept quite late. Drove to Leon, saw the Gothic cathedral and the Romanesque splendor of San Isidoro cloister. We also shopped for souvenirs. Apparently Beth is bringing “something thoughtful” home to each of her relatives and most of her son´s schoolmates.

Day 8: (today) We went to Burgos. We saw the wondrous cathedral, and ate shrimps on the colorful and asymmetric plaza. We intended to see the royal monastery of Las Huelgas, but I pooped out. We came home instead, and spent some times over at Bruno´s place with a gaggle of English and Irish and Australian pilgrims that Paddy met earlier in the day.

Tomorrow we rest, and pack up the bags. On Friday I will take them to Madrid and their airplane home.

It´s been quite non-stop. We are beat. They have seen such a tiny slice of this great, big country. I am amazed at how much I have never seen of Spain, myself. What a gift it is, to have such a lineup of beautiful places and great food and lovely people to share with my family!

And I am amazed at my sisters. We are funny, articulate, and capable women who have made very different choices in the past, and who live very different lives now. Still, we share so much more than genetics... so many crusty old jokes and songs and memories, and so many values and world-views, still. After all these years.

We have spent many hours together this week, but we haven´t had any of those Hollywood heart-to-hearts. We haven´t had to. We still speak the same language. Our parents set us on a strong base, and we three still stand strong thereon.

In my long pursuit of my personal dreams, I have neglected my family. But only because I assumed they will always be there for me, even if they are far away.

I have taken them for granted.
I have forgotten, up til now, that they are getting older. The weight, the aches and pains, the medicine we need to make it through the day... I guess I thought it was only me who was changing, that they would always be the clear-skinned teen beauties my mind sees when I hear their names.

I had forgotten, I guess, how fiercely and deeply and truly I love them.