Thursday, November 22, 2012

The People Who Don't Know I'll Name Them Today

It's late and I'm feeling reckless so I'm going to do something I never do--throw down an unedited blog post. This decision makes me want to toss back a couple shots of bourbon with a little xanax because I am the worst sort of hyper-editing perfectionist freak. I feel like that phrase YOLO was invented for way better stuff than this, but here goes.

Later today we will make our way over to the house of our friends Anne and Bob for dinner. About a million years ago when there were five children who were 9 and under, we moved to New Jersey and Anne's parents invited us to their home with their other five grown but not yet married children, cousins, aunts, grandmas and stray clergy members. For four years we did this and they were the most magical Thanksgivings you can imagine with wild soccer games and 4th grade musical performances and 20-somethings who played endless games of Tetris. I remember thinking that this gigantic celebration was exactly why I'd always wanted a big family. Drs. John and Yvonne Driscoll head up that clan and live in such a way that you always know there is an open seat at their table--smart and funny, kind but very real, these two raised Anne, John, Billy, Margaret, Kevin and Michael to be extraordinary human beings. For the years in which they made us feel that we were part of their clan and for the fact that I now serve Aunt Sheila's green beans every year, I am so very grateful.

Grandview High School gave me many things - love of Funk, a newspaper that got me writing, and not insignificant street cred decades later. It also gave me friends like H. Clayton Thomas and Roger Denney, two of the finest men I know. Both were stalwart individualists in high school. One went East, the other South and neither returned, but the magic of the internet gave them back to us and every time I see their names, I relent a little on the grudge I have toward Facebook. They love their wives and it is evident, even from a distance that they have raised their children with care. They share their politics softly and their rock and roll loud and when they speak of old friends it is with the sort of encouragement that lets us know the thread which unspooled them, still connects. Both celebrated birthdays in the past week. My gratitude for their presence on this earth is as solid as they are.

Tonight Yessie and the girls came over for dinner. It's been three months since we met and two since Polo was deported and in that time we've become real friends. The story of her life is one that reads like a novel and yet she does not see herself as extraordinary. She just finished her GED, is working nights and raising daughters who are smart and sassy and so much fun, and every time we are together she wears her strength and peace like armor. Knowing her and getting to be a part of her life is the sort of privilege for which I feel severely unqualified.

Last month I traveled to the City of Brotherly Love and spent a week with the tribe that is Quintessence Theatre Group. The ten Brothellos, their fearless leader Alex Burns, Ellen & Al Brown and my sister wives Lisa and Mara Burns, received me with the openest of open arms and gave me a sense of belonging the likes of which I will carry with me for a long time. Would that they were here and I could feed them one and all today.

There are more, of course, whose lives move through the collective unconscious every day and who, tomorrow, will be in my heart as well. If you've ever told me you read this blog, you're on that list. The encouragement I've gotten from you has given me a voice, freed me up to tell the truth and made me want to be a writer. Your generosity is a gift.

Happy Thanksgiving.