Sunday, June 20, 2004

Meet the Group

I met the group yesterday. First I met Murphy, the trip leader, a math professor from Simpson college in Iowa. She seemed eager to tuck me away in a room in the guesthouse and prepare herself for the trip, so I introduced myself to Jean, the grandmother and peace-degreed psychotherapist – Jean is a writer, and she approached me kindly when I was walking to dinner alone, so I’m prepared to love her. I’m much too easy. Jean rooms with Christine, a recent math graduate from Harvard, who is going on the MIT in the fall. She has a touch of that young, brilliant, self-contained intellectualism that I recognize from my own past.

Next I met Jen, whose luggage was lost, but who is handling the inconvenience well, and who has the nicest smile I have seen in a while. She’s a social worker (except she’s not yet employed after graduating) from New York City. She has sparkling eyes – as Jane Austen would say. She also has the voice of my old baby-sitter Claire. Occasionally, you run into people who look like someone you know, and that’s weird, but the resemblance fades as you get to know the new doppelganger and their personality starts to show through the eyes and ears and nose of the old friend. The voice resemblance seems more lasting. Jason Zimmerman has the voice of my old best friend’s father. It took me a year before I could think much else about Jason.

Next to arrive were the Canadians, Kate and Mike. Kate’s a doctor (I think, if I understood her Canadian) and Mike is studying brain research. I like them. They are closest to my own age, and Kate has the small wrinkles around her eyes that show that she’s lived 30 years with expressions, and I can trust someone who wears old smiles on her face.

Jim arrived next. He’s had a history in foreign service. He’s also a rapid-fire questioner, and I almost suspect he’s a spy, infiltrating our group to keep an eye on our un-American activities.

Then came Neil and Sam, the father and son from the Bay Area. Neil tried to talk to me in the dining room, which, yes, endeared him to me, but after a day of traveling alone I ran out of things to say very quickly. Sam is a high school junior, which did not endear him to me, but that’s not his fault.

Marta, the Hungarian, arrived next. She fled Hungary hours before the Soviets arrived in 1945, and now she comes back to visit relatives and build houses. Jim focused most of his intense questioning on her.

Finally Ben arrived. He’s a recent graduate (undergrad) of architecture. He is handsome, with long eyelashes, but too young for me, which means that the only unattached males (Sam and Ben) are too young. Oh, well. I guess I’m now officially in it for the low-income housing.

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