Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Noli me tangere

It was exactly 20 years ago less a day that Denis and I began our confederacy.  Instantly we bolted from the starting gate and began in earnest the race that is life!  The very next day was a memorable luncheon for six close friends at the house in Almonte where we would eventually cohabit. Mere weeks later we inaugurated what became a succession of trips.  Our initial jaunt was to New York City where in keeping with our now well-established preference we landed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. This weekend visit was illustrative of what was to come: we have since perched at other renowned hotels (including the Carlyle, the Plaza, the Boca Raton Beach Club, the Chateau Laurier, the Royal York, Le Reine Elizabeth and many other five-star hacienda  - rounded out by First Class airplane seating and once with a private helicopter ride to the airport); we were completely sober (a condition which although somewhat mercurial has largely been sustained); we had unforgettable dinners (steak et frites at Chez Ma Tante and Osso Buco at the Gershwin Theatre); we took a water tour on the Hudson River (characteristic of our serendipitous affection for water generally specifically the Caribbean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean); I misdirected us on a rainy night walk almost into the Hudson River (the impetus for our "first fight"); we daily took long walks (a love of regular exercise which now focuses upon bicycling); and, afterwards we immediately began to plan our next venture together.

Our travel log has since included one or more visits to Antigua, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, Punta Cana, Ogunquit, Boston, Cape Cod, Mont Tremblant, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Montreal, Detroit, Huntsville, Muskoka, Prince Edward County, Rome, Montepulciano, Sardinia, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Amelia Island, Jekyll Island, Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores and of course Hilton Head Island. And yes we continue to this minute to plan the next destination - foreseeable Stockholm, Sweden.

Over the past twenty years considerable time, capital and energy was expended upon three properties we owned - a condominium in the By Ward Market of Ottawa, a house in Almonte and an office building in Mississippi Mills. I boast to chronicle that we now rent apartments in Almonte (7 months of the year) and on Hilton Head Island (five months of the year). Without dilating upon the import of this alteration from munificence to austerity, I will at least concede there is a message there.

Although Denis retired ten years before I did, we never had any trouble accommodating the changed circumstances of either of us.  Denis immediately fell into rural life, serious gardening and a highly educated culinary bent (of which I and our mutual friends regularly benefitted). Before I finally retired, and after my very capable assistant was struck down with kidney failure, Denis stepped in to fill her shoes.  He took over the management of the "books" (something I abhorred since the beginning of my career) and he formulated extraordinary time-saving templates for the profitable operation of the law practice.  To this day it surprises me how simple it is to run a business if properly equipped. I am forever grateful to Denis for having withdrawn from retirement to take the tiller in hand at this pivotal moment.

The pooling of our resources of every description has meant indulgences on many levels though I am quick to add that we have lately exhausted our erstwhile material proclivities. Until that juncture however we were regular faces at the finer emporia within our bailiwick; viz., furniture, Persian rugs, household implements and ornaments, artwork, clothing, automobiles, jewellery and a parade of fine wines, liquor and fortified wines (all now wistfully in the past).

Interestingly today as we sat in the sunshine at an outdoor patio having lunch, idly reminiscing about the past twenty years, we observed that we have seen my nieces grow up. When Denis and I hooked up, Jennifer was ten and Julia was eight years of age.  We have got to know them and their partners and to share their respective hopes and ambitions.  While this hardly qualifies as vicarious children, it is nonetheless an important feature of our relationship.

The single element which distinguishes our alliance of the past two decades is compatibility. This has been the sine qua non for all that we have done.  I would naturally be remiss to deny there has been a measure of good luck as well.  What persists is the continuing sense of adventure in everything we do.  Nothing is holding us back.  Our battlecry is "Noli me tangere!"

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