Where love lives
It is lovely to visit family. Often. Sometimes it is trying, but this time it is lovely. It is fun to hang out with my musician sister in her cool loft in downtown artist subsidized housing spaces. It is great to get to go to one of her gigs and then sit down and have dinner with her and my brother and their significant others and talk about things besides parenting while the Baby runs around making herself the center of attention. It is fun to say things like, "My brother is a fight choreographer/stunt man and my sister is a musician." I remember the sheer bliss of jamming with talented musicians; how fun it is to play and sing with other people. It is sweet to see my aging grandfather who's vision has begun to fail as he holds my child and the look of proud tenderness that softens his craggy face. It is joy to speak to my grandmother about the things that we now have in common, the business of marriage and family. It is good to be with my mom and watch the Baby know her now and go to her for comfort. I am grateful for the way she and my dad take care of me while I am here, even while they are very careful to never have to speak to each other. It is deeply satisfying to reconnect with old and dear friends and to have deep heart to heart conversations, and silly light hearted ones. It is hard to find time for every one in this town where I grew up.
It is heartbreaking to see some people. Some people who have not grown past where they were before. Not in a contented way, but in an endless despairing downward spiral type of way. Once I recognized someone and crossed the street so they wouldn't see me. I could see from the way they looked, and walked, from the way their shoulders slumped and their head tilted forward and they muttered to themselves that life had not been kind to them, and I did not want to know just how unkind so I crossed over before they recognized me. I am ashamed of that moment. There was the friend whose life is falling apart, who clung to me sobbing as I made my way out of her house because I had a plane to catch, who didn't want me to leave. Her children have become sweeter and hugged me a long time as her husband drunkenly hugged everyone and I felt helpless and unspeakable sadness, and stupid for not seeing sooner what was going on, and then anger at her for not telling me, and then just love, but I still had to go, breathing prayers and what assurances I could as I went. I carry them in my heart still.
And now I am in the close bosom of dear friends and I feel hugged and loved and wrapped up in their gifts of kindness in ways that are often beyond family ties. Because for them it's voluntary love. It's the love of true family, of people whose hearts are knit together in spirit and in truth, in our common story of experiencing unconditional love and passing it along, of knowing and being known, of forgiving and being forgiven, of love that sees the weakness and helps to carry one through it, that blesses the strengths, that rejoices in what is praiseworthy, and believes and hopes all things. This place is the fruit of that kind of love set free and it is good, oh so good to be here.