The Bright Side

I’d rather talk about the glory than the glitches. But sometimes it feels safer to coast in under the cover of gripe. 

Not to say digging into the trenches and making sense of the soil isn’t valid; in fact, in this age of airbrushing I’d say it’s critical work to be candid about the struggle.  But I’d rather not fall to the other extreme, baring all in an angst-ridden pity parade.

The fact is, I am an optimistic, joyful person. I think that what comes out of a stranger’s mouth is going to revelatory, or at least helpful. I relish the sound of the crickets piping in from the leaves. I think people are basically good and trustworthy. I believe most dogs won’t bite me.

Last night was one of those blessed evenings when I communed with joy and it gave me a big, wet kiss.  Annie was out of town, and I was getting the house ready both for her return but also for a visit from one of my oldest friends, Zeus, and his fiance Lora whom I had not yet met. Lora was driving down from Ohio and was arriving the night before her sweetheart, and I found myself in happy anticipation; even though we’d never met in person, I knew — because of the depth and breadth of my relationship with Zeus — that someone kindred was about to grace our home.

Lora arrived about two hours later than she’d planned, but I was able to transcend the clock. It was one of those perfect spring nights when the wind is blowing the first warm breeze of the year and the stars are almost shocking in their plenitude. I cooked up some dinner, wrote a little, put on some music and then stretched and danced and opened the unhinged joints in my body that had been feeling so tightly closed. In the last few years my body has stiffened and at times I feel like the tin man in need of some oil. I was able to conduct my own freestyle body workshop in the dining room with the windows wide open.

At one point I walked into Rio’s room and talked a bit to the soundly sleeping boy. I told him I would always love him and try to be there for him. I reminded him to never ignore the directives of his heart. I had the strong and slightly eerie feeling that he could hear me despite his deep slumber. Then things got a little mysterious. As I looked down on his face I saw him as a teenager, then as a man sleeping on another bed somewhere.  I got a flash of him alone and crying, that sad communion with the sheets, and I thought of all the times he would be broken and I started to weep, turned my face to my sleeve, looked away. I was about to leave the room when I remembered laughter, the tops of mountains, nights like the one I was having, and I let the delight of those small gifts sustain my vision of my growing son.

And then Lora arrived, 12:30 a.m. and the night still felt young, and she and I talked and talked, needing nothing but the worlds that were suddenly broader and more connected, and as the darkness was about to greet dawn a storm came in from nowhere, thunder booming and rain suddenly pouring across the tableau at 45 degrees. I ran inside and closed all the windows I had opened,  cursing for a moment all the papers that had scattered across the room. We hooted and hollered at mother nature’s unforgettable howl, and I finally went to bed, satisfaction in my bones.

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