Yesterday after a very busy time at work I changed clothes, switched cars, and sat in traffic for nearly two hours on the way to the dressiest pool party I’ve ever attended. My Dad’s cousin retired from the US Air Force as a Colonel after 26 years of service. I couldn’t attend the ceremony since I had to work, but I joined about 250 people that evening for the house-party.
I parked a long way down the street and followed the noise to what I hoped was the right place. There were no signs and I hadn’t been there before, so I just walked in and grinned at anyone who looked askance at my late arrival. After a few minutes, I knew I was in the right house and hadn’t barged into someone else’s gathering. It was a catered affair with a rather limited open bar. The basement was full of people watching the World Cup, the pool was full of kids splashing around, the trampoline was full of kids flailing around, and the yard was full of hundreds of people.
That party alone was a great testament to her years of service, and to Emily Buckman as an individual. To bring so many relatives, airmen, and friends together, and have a place big enough to accommodate all of them, was impressive.
Of course you can’t get so many people together without a few things going wrong. I looked into the pool and wondered why a man was swimming with his oxford shirt on. Turns out, a little girl had floated into the deep end and her brother tried to help her out of the water but he couldn’t swim well enough for both of them. When they started to sink, this man and the child’s mother dove into the water and saved the day. Two teenage lifeguards were chatting at the other end of the pool.
I also got the opportunity to talk with another relative-of-little-relation’s boyfriend about his time teaching English in China. I learned a lot about China, Southeast Asia, teaching, travel, and professional considerations from that chat. Most of which may not matter for the next few years, but it was edifying all the same. Most importantly I need to know why I want to go, and have a plan in place.
Four relatives stayed here for the retirement festivities, which is why I’m typing this from my old desk in my sister’s old room / sewing room / office / temporary housing.
Congratulations Emily, and thank you for your many years of service.