Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li
liralen

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Lunch with Linda

To touch on Puerto Rico... mostly because I made a couple of friendships there that I hadn't expected and one got strengthened in a way I also hadn't expected.

This year, UCC Longmont decided to try and do two weeks of reconstruction in Puerto Rico, as compared to the one week last year. Many more people wanted to go, the accommodations could only take so many, and so we spread everyone out into two teams with some folks that wanted to be there for both weeks. We did fundraising dinners, had potluck dinners to learn Spanish and cook food from Puerto Rico, and raised nearly 10,000 dollars to be used on the materials we needed to fix things there.

There was a core group of seven folks who were staying for both weeks: John and I, Jeff and Lysa, Fran, Carole and Linda. There were about ten more for each of the weeks in addition to the core seven, and both groups had vastly different personalities, but both were fun.

Linda and I got to know each other back before I was even moderator, as she was the one who asked me to become the moderator for our church. She was moderator then, so I was the Moderator-elect for two years, following her around to learn the job while she was Moderator. Then she was Moderator-past while I was Moderator, and she was someone I could talk to. So we got to be friends under pressure with all that.

So Puerto Rico was the first place where Linda and I got to hang out. We had work to do, but there was a lot of good time to just be together instead of doing so much. And it turns out that it was the first time Linda had been brave enough to go out of the country, and she had a blast. I was glad of that. We had a lot of fun, in part because for the entire first week it rained.
Yes. Puerto Rico has a rain forest, but going in January/February was supposed to be the dry season for the island. It was scheduled so that we could do work on roofs. The particular coatings they were applying had to be applied to a dry roof, one that had remained unrained on for two days. So even though it rained every other day, it rained every other day and so we didn't get to work on any roofs for the first week.

And, yes, the earthquakes on Puerto Rico started a week before we left. Several people decided not to go because they were afraid that the earthquakes were going to hit us, even though the organizers said that the earthquakes were in a different area than the camp. We also weren't allowed into the earthquake area when we got there, as it wasn't safe. So instead of roofs we asked to do anything that needed to be done. That turned out to be painting the church that actually started the camp that we were staying at, and it also included packing aid boxes for those in the earthquake zone who were sleeping out of their cracked and broken houses.
We also did some tourist things that first week, in the rain. It included exploring Old San Juan during a saints' fair, where we had to park miles away from the city center and walk with everyone else into town to see all the music stages, the booths, fair food, and just being able to people watch was wonderful.

Linda and I got to be pretty good friends. Even before Puerto Rico and as part of the process, she and I started going out to lunch every month, just once a month, and ended up eating at Santiago's so often the waitresses started to recognize us and bring us our drinks before we'd even sat down. So when COVID hit, we decided to try and meet for lunch on Zoom every week. Neither of us had a lot of people we were interacting with, and it seemed like a good idea.

It turned out to be an excellent idea, and it's helped keep us both sane during a time when it was harder than we thought. Especially since Linda started out all of this living on her own, so I was her only regular point of contact outside of her meetings for our church and for the conference our church was in. It gave us both some structure to our week; and when the Presidential election got closer and closer, we were able to talk through our anxieties with each other. It was nice to have someone to bounce those things off of, and get some perspective.

So every Tuesday, at 11:30, we Zoom in with each other and just talk about whatever's been happening and what's on our minds. That might be part of why I haven't written as often, too, in that a lot of the processing I need to do I'm now learning the skills to do verbally and I have someone safe to do that with, which is a Godsend.

Things in Puerto Rico worked out, in the end. We did get three roofs to work on and in trying to find things to do, we completely tore apart a pair of derelict bathrooms (with trees growing out of the dead plant matter that had layered on the roof) and remade the whole building into a laundry and storage room sealed off against the flooding rain. We also found out that two of the homeowners of the houses that needed new roofs who also needed some significant help with ventilation, doors, doorframes, and small fixes through their houses. That gave us enough work, even with a crew of a dozen or so, to actually keep people busy for a day or two.

And it was a real joy to work with all the folks. They're all good people and we got to have fun playing cards, finding good food, and working like crazy when we got to.

So it feels odd now, thinking back about that time. Living in a such close quarters with so many seems so crazy now, where we would all cook for each other and just hang out twenty to a room and enjoy being together. Linda and I revisit those memories now and again in wonder, realizing that then we had no idea how much it would mean to us now that we had done that and hoped to do that again.

We had a good lunch today. I had leftover turkey dinner. She had coffee. We talked, and it was surprisingly good to just be with each other, and I learn, yet again, about being a human being instead of a human doing.

And it was a real joy to work with all the folks. They're all good people and we got to have fun playing cards, finding good food, and working like crazy when we got to.

So it feels odd now, thinking back about that time. Living in a such close quarters with so many seems so crazy now, where we would all cook for each other and just hang out twenty to a room and enjoy being together. Linda and I revisit those memories now and again in wonder, realizing that then we had no idea how much it would mean to us now that we had done that and hoped to do that again.

We had a good lunch today. I had leftover turkey dinner. She had coffee. We talked, and it was surprisingly good to just be with each other, and I learn, yet again, about being a human being instead of a human doing.
Tags: adventure, grateful, travel
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