Saturday, October 15, 2011

You All Know Who You Are

It’s been 10 years since we left New York, a healing decade in which I learned to appreciate the skyline in my rearview mirror and love the plains with specificity and devotion.  Embracing my life and my people here, I put down roots that I thought would grow forever.  And then one day my mailbox held a package with a Riverside Drive return address and just like that, an old lover walked through the door.  

The Porch Where It All Happens is what Gina called the painting she sent, a tribute to the three years we spent at The Cathedral School.  They were days of life and death-- 100 year old steps bearing witness to grief unspeakable and laughter so loud it drew public chastisement (We are still trying to teach students here).  There were public debates and private glances, yet through it all, unseen hands knitted together a unit that miraculously still survives.  Some people go to New York to see theatre, and some to revel in art.  I go to New York because, to my grateful wonderment, there is still a seat in the garden for me.  

But you cannot hear from an old love without taking a bit of inventory and it’s been the fortnight for that, memory trawling me back through different lives and other porches.  I’ve heard from someone who joined me when our existence was measured in single digits and shared meals with a few who knew my unlined face.  I began a new timeline with one and sent a family email to another with whom I share no dna--both of them The Right Answer for the days the universe carried them in.

I returned to Kansas City once before--17 years ago after two years away.  Feeling like an out-of-towner, I realized how completely life had moved on without me.  I was wieldy, lemme tell ya, with five tiny companions for every step outside the house, so it didn’t look like much would change. I don’t know if I actually prayed, or if the heaviness in my heart was enough, but I remember wondering--Is this it?  Except for a few add-ons through the years, Have I met all of the people I will know?  

And then this small, smoking, swearing, high-powered career woman was standing on my porch.  It was the unlikeliest of friendships, me with naps and after-school pickups and hers a life of Senators and eventually Presidents.  Yet through some crazy mix of need and persistence we found a place in the middle where each of us shared the overflow that was exactly what the other one needed.  It was the beginning of the rest of my life.  

From that day on, old friends and new were received as the miracle they are, held with an open hand and the knowledge that, Lord have mercy, we needed each other.  I laugh to consider that question I asked, the pieces of my heart since scattered across the country and held in people I never knew I would visit, much less grow to love.  That’s the thing about porches--anyone can come up and have a seat.

I feel the ground moving, hands loosening roots that I have tried desperately to protect.  I don’t know where they will put down, but thanks to Gina, I know there will be a crowd.


  1. awesome kate. you are such a gifted writer!! love and hugs, ap

  2. loved this Kate, thanks for posting it. I totally got it. :)