Friends, Love

Wedded Blissing

Here’s to the happy marriage!
Your magic combination of hard work and dumb luck does more than give the rest of us hope. It also offers your friends, kids, and friends’ kids a model of healthy partnership. God knows, we need more of those.
The glow you tend through your ways of being together is an inviting place. Thank you for letting us warm our hands there before we set out on the next leg of the journey.

Friends, Happy Days

Happy 100 Days: 11

“We had a birthday party for Winter today,” Bug tells me, pulling the last of the Oreos out of the crumpled blue wrapper he found in his backpack.
“Winter the dolphin?” We are leaving after-school care on the way to drop the pooch off with a friend for the Christmas break.
“No,” Bug says, black cookie dust drifting down his chin. Winter is a dolphin with a prosthetic tail that lives down at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. Bug has been dying to go down to visit ever since seeing a movie about the rescue. “Not that one. How old is Winter anyway?”
“If it is someone in your class, I assume she’s six.”
Bug gives me a blank look. “Is there someone named Winter in my class?”
I stop and bend down. “What are we talking about?”
Winter,” Bug says, as if I haven’t heard him properly. “It’s the short day, and then it starts all over again.”
“Oh! The solstice!” I say.
“Right! We had a party for Winter’s birthday. We had cookies and juice.”
We get in the car and drive through the night past all the houses decked out in twinkling lights. We arrive at the friend’s place with the dog in tow. Bug sits on our friend’s living room floor and digs through a box of old toys belonging to boys who are men now, off exploring unmapped corners of the world. The pooch snuffles around and makes herself at home in a nook behind the dining room table.
After a little while, we go over to the common house where a small group of folks has been cobbling together army-sized vats of vegetable stew and cornbread. Candles are waiting to be lit, wine is opened, and slips of paper with bits of blessing are passed from hand to hand. Soon, a group of friends and neighbors is standing in a circle sending wishes to the four directions. Each of us holds a candle. Bug finds a glass bauble shaped like a star to hold his. When we reach our part of the recitation, I bend and Bug holds his light up to the slip of paper.
“Can you read that word?” I ask.
“West,” he says.
“That’s right. West. And that?”
He looks a moment longer. “North,” he says.
“You got it.” I read the rest of our share of the blessing. After a few laughs and shared breaths, we eat. Bug finds older kids and joins them at their table. He is a perpetual narrative-in-motion machine. He asks me not to watch him so I only do through sideways eyes. My friend stays near Bug and me, making sure we have enough to eat and that we have met the folks who are sharing this moment with us.The room is alive with the scent of cinnamon, smiling faces, stories of trapeze classes and the lament of kids growing up too fast.
It is dark so early now. I barely noticed, what with all the light.
We had a birthday party for Winter today.


Happy 100 Days: 99

We only see each other in passing after months and months apart. She lives too far and I have the kid. She keeps reminding me she has never met my son, which is sort of extraordinary considering how much a part of me she feels. We make plans again to get together. We mean it every time.
She knew me before Tee. Back then, we walked together along the river and ate heaps of pancakes at the little grill where she sometimes worked. She always was the finest waltz partner. That has not changed. She lifts my arm up and over to twirl my cloddish feet in the most elegant of arcs.
After, in a dark corner away from the whirling dancers, we huddle together and gossip. I have known her for a decade at least. Longer? Yes, so we discover. A dozen years. Amazing.
We laugh like schoolgirls. Like sisters. I know the funny way she rolls her eyes, and feel what lives in layers there: the tenderness down under the scar down under the sarcasm down under the sugary flutter of the lashes. She knows my history so I don’t have to masticate all over again that mouthful of ineffective words just to get her up to speed. We get right to the laughing.
It is hard to believe either of us is so much older than we were then. We still circle back around to the same silly patterns. We are still always who we have always been. For once, this is a reason for hilarity rather than angst. Just leaning close to her welcome skin for 10 minutes, that fleeting return to the familiar, puts the fizz back in my tired blood. We hug good night with more promises of visits. She returns to the dance floor and I head to the parking lot. I cruise out onto the Beltway feeling the strangest of sensations. What is that, I wonder? Serenity? Happiness? Something new, but also like coming home.