Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't you wanna be....?

Everybody at the Midtown Costco calls me Baby.  And I can't tell you how happy that makes me.  It isn't my neighborhood store so I only hit it when I have to make a liquor run, but Lord have mercy I wish I could go there every day.

When I walk in the front door I invariably stumble around because the carts are in a different place than I am used to.  "There you go, baby," says the woman checking Costco cards at the front as she gestures toward the carts, and I gratefully move in their direction as whatever mood I am in instantly improves.  I smile brightly at her as I walk past flashing my card.

At the sample kiosks I am fed by half a dozen mothers and fathers as each one tells me how easy dinner can be, or how delicious breakfast, and when I say thank you as I always do, they respond, "You're welcome baby."

At the checkout line I take my receipt, "You have a good day, baby," says a woman who may be my age or even younger.  And finally, when I have put said receipt in my checkbook in spite of having shopped at Costco FOREVER and knowing that I will have to show it on the way out, I stand, holding up the line at the exit awkwardly fishing around and pulling out movie tickets from 2007 and someone's report card, and still, the dear man who gives my receipt its purple or pink or blue magic marker slash, smiles at me like he wants to pat me on the head as I apologize all over myself and says, "It's ok baby.  You have a good one."

And as I walk to my car practically weeping with gratitude, all psychological burdens lifted, at least momentarily from my shoulders, I think, "What is that?"  It isn't a black thing.  None of my actual friends  who are black call me Baby and I would die laughing if Ghana ever did.  Even Mary who is almost old enough to be my grandmother and has as much reason as my own mother to call me Baby, has never done so.

I think about Thanksgiving and how my house will fill up again with my babies as they arrive at the mother ship from their amazing lives.  And I think about the two people in California whose baby I still am--who will miss me as much as if I still lived with them and was gone for the holiday.

I remember bringing Daniel home from the hospital.  There was a moment when a thought sprang unbidden to my mind, Where is the grownup in this picture?  Truth be told, even 22 years later when there can be no question about whether I am old enough to be the parent, there are still moments when I am waiting for a grownup to show.

Is this then, the secret power of the greeting?  Like a cosmic mother, is every "Baby" at Costco and "Hon" on an airplane or in a diner, nothing more or less than a caress on the cheek from the God of the universe to remind me that I bear no burden alone.  I am somebody's baby.  And there's always a grownup in the room.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's in a Name?

Of course there were lots of things I could have called this blog: Forever Editing/Always Incomplete, It's My Soapbox and I'll Rant if I want to, Sentences I Never Got to Finish, My Grocery List for the Week, or even, My House is Too Quiet.

But the truth is that the topic that really does seem to have endless possibilities these days---is other people. My "village" is bigger than I ever imagined it would be when I was growing up on the outer edges of Kansas City, Missouri.  I got to join posses (possees? posse'es? dude what is the plural of posse?) all over the country, and be a part of lives from around the world.  Rayner said to me once, "We're not rich with money.  But we are rich with people,"  and all I could do was nod: a) because it was true and b) because who figures that out when they are 10?

I'm not sure what this is all going to look like.  I'm sure there will be days when I'll have to pray hard, put a period at the end of that sentence and WALK AWAY, or just make something up (In the spirit of that guy whose mind is in a million little pieces, I will always let you know when I do that btw).  But I can guarantee one thing--with the people I know I will never run out of material.

One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is of the paralytic whose friends heard that Jesus was in town and decided they needed to get him there ASAP.  Arriving at the home where He was preaching (think Times Square on New Year's Eve, Plaza Lights on Thanksgiving, Gay Pride Parade in SF) they were dismayed by the crowd and the inaccessability of their target.  But these were can-do kinda guys (I always think of them as fraternity brothers or platoon buddies) and there was no way in hell they were going to let an opportunity like this slip past them.  I imagine the guy on the pallet lying there and thinking about what a burden he was, how they had carried him all this way for nothing, and telling them, "It's ok you guys.  Let's just go back home." But the others wouldn't even listen they were so pumped.  They were made for challenges like this, and once they scouted the place, they had their plan.

Barging through the crowd, banging their buddy up against every ne'er do well in Palestine, they got to the house and sent the small wiry one climbing up the side where he tore off the roof and then hollered down that he was done.  Using their ropes and a human pulley system (which no doubt involved a rudimentary lathe--name that movie quote) they hauled their friend up to the roof and then DOWN into the house, pretty much in front of Jesus who was, I am guessing, the only unsurprised person in that room.

Now I know that we all have done something like that--solved a math problem with a coat hanger, or outsmarted an obstacle or committed some feat of strength, but stuff like that is always even more fun if you do it on a team.  So can't you just imagine their faces when Jesus looked up at them?  Those sweaty, proud, earnest grins that said, "Damn straight we take care of our own!"

And knowing what we know about him, wasn't it all he could do to keep a straight face while "seeing their faith"?  Until he looked down at the embarrassed young man suspended in mid-air for all the house to see and said, 'Young man, your sins are forgiven,' at which point the crowd really got going, some of them because they were offended by the insinuation that he had that kind of authority, and some of them because, duh, that wasn't exactly what they had been hoping for when they hauled that boy through the streets of Capernaum.

"Which is easier," Jesus said, (and can I just say, from personal experience, that when he says, 'Which is easier?' he definitely has an answer in mind and it is probably not the one you are thinking of) "to say, 'your sins are forgiven' or to say, 'rise, pick up your pallet and walk,'" at which point, nobody in the room was volunteering an answer.  "Go ahead," Jesus said, in that quiet room to that anxious young face below him, "Pick up your pallet and walk home with your friends."  And though there was one walking for what might have been the first time, I'm guessing all five of them pretty much flew home.

Phew!  I did not intend to go to church there, but here is the thing I had to say, Gurrl, I have been on that pallet and I have been on that roof.  And I just gotta tell you about the folks that have been there with me.
There will be names I have forgotten that will arrive later, but for now--
Here's to the Village
Daniel, Hannah, Mary Glen, Rayner, Matty, Sara Kate & Glenn Forristall, Sally & Bob Otsuka, Becca Forristall, Todd Arterburn, Janice & Glenn Sappington, Vick and Dave Forristall, Michele & Jim Hunt,  Gila & Ed Lipton, Kris & Kip Unruh, Courtney & Tim James, Annie Presley & Jay Selanders, Susan & George Satterlee, Tristan & Marine Imbert, Ghana Fickling, Mary Beth Craddock, Bob & Gwen Lehleitner,   Sally & Jay Nicholson, Gina & Jim Vescovi,  Hope Jessup, Edith Thurber & Kevin O'Rourke, Scott Evans and Liza Gennaro, Beryl Wilson, Mary McGee, Rob and Beth Wright, Beba & Tom Schwinn, Abby Franklin and Derald Plumer, Clio Garland, Terry Kay, Tom & Melanie Jackson, Dave & Judy O'Neil, Bob & Terri Fisher, Erin & Jim McBurney, Rob & Babs Bickhart, Greg & Elaine Myers, Anne & Bob St. Peter, Lizzie & Tory Baucum, Connie & Vinnie Tyndall, Joe White, Kris Cooper, Shay & Ashley Robbins, Adam Donyes, Gus & Beth Horner, The Cathedral School, Pam Mendels and Carl Kaplan, Christopher Moore, Sarah & Grant Yeamans, Bill & Suzanne Severns, Mary Coffey, Irene Flannery, Sally Doane, Debbie Kerr, Jennifer DiCarlo, Dean Bravman, Koren Baakegard, the financial aid offices at Stanford and TCU, Harry Parker, Jennifer & Paul Engler, Deidra & Russell Rice, Cathy Wood, Susan Fisher, Sherri & Bobby Bell, Jim Wink, Brendan Curran, Tony Budetti, Jan Guild, Layne Fehlhaber, Melanie & Roy Elfrink, Eileen Johnson, Rick Palumbo, Gerre Ann Mathews, Pam & Tom Ryan, Sara & Ward Stauffer, The Donovan Clan, Candace & Matt Penn, Gil & Georgeanne Porter, Shurle Lee, Teresa Defreece, Linda Brown, Christy & Simon Malko, Mary & Blaine Roderique, Steve Paul, Alicia & John Zurlo, Mindy Brown, Lee Gum, The Driscoll Clan, Mary Ellen & Michael Lehman, John Vitale, Susan Martin, Jossie O'Neil, Sandra Howard, Sally Guillen, Sandra Martin & Isaac Alongi, Maura & Carnie Nulton, the ever patient residents of Green Valley Condos, Michelle & Brian White, Dr. Dennis Allendorf, Dr. Herbert Rubin, Dr. Loretta Nelson, Nancy Huckaba, Leslie Weaver, Elizabeth Danforth, Cindy Jeffries, Kelli Jenkins, Brenda Mortensen, Kyle Hatley, Donna Thomason, Mark Swezey, Jonathan Dillon, Kevin Willmott; and to the villagers who have gone up ahead:  James & LaDonna Mabry, Jack Flannery, Madeleine L'Engle, Amy Francis.

It's not an exhaustive list.  But lord have mercy, this has been an exhaustive entry.

Here's to you.