— From CB —

 Saturday we celebrated the 2nd birthday of Junah, our friends’ daughter. Sunday we celebrated Elizabeth’s 75th. Junah is luminous, shy. Elizabeth is luminous, less shy.

Depending on one’s fortunes, life may take a very long time. Sometimes even longer. La vida es sueño, wrote Calderon, (life is a dream), but the edge of the chair gives a real bruise if you stumble against it. For me, the “dream” image doesn’t mean “illusion” but rather an infinitely changing reality.

I’m walking through an airline terminal down a Victorian hallway where I’m looking for the bathroom but I’m driving our old Dodge van leaning over from the passenger seat to steer while coaching our toddler son to step on the pedal and it’s up a road so steep the van is starting to pitch over backward into rehearsal for a play where Brent is climbing a ladder wearing a hat with teddy-bear ears but it’s not my play so I turn and I’m in the eyes of a woman looking deeply into mine and we seem to be married even though I’ve never met her but I say goodbye because I still have to find the bathroom and the rooster across the street wakes me up and I start to run lines in my head for Act 3 of Lear but fall back asleep and it’s opening night but the muffins are still in the oven and one of the reviews is already out and questions why King Lear is eating muffins.

That’s not a precise transcription of my dream, but it captures the essence. We try to craft a trajectory and link cause to effect, and sometimes we actually have the illusion that it all makes sense. Then suddenly the GPS tells you to make a sharp left turn and you’re playing a role on a stage you’ve never seen, with each line of dialogue written the moment before you speak it.

Happy birthday to all of us in the monkey house.

 — From the Fool —

 My friend Fred is against a lot of stuff. Politics, religion, his boss, his ex-wife. He got a pit bull in hopes of freaking his neighbors, but he feeds it Big Macs and it just lies there getting fat. He put up a flagpole with a big American flag which hangs there in all weather like a dead raccoon.

I asked him what he thought about the big news that some ex-mayor said the President was a communist. Or “influenced by communists,” which I guess is just as bad.

“No question about it,” he said. “Doesn’t he go to church?” It was a known fact, he said, that Jesus was under communist influence. I’d never thought they had communists way back then. (Maybe the Philistines: they were a pretty mean bunch and didn’t like being conquered the way God wanted them to.)

“Look at the facts,” he said. “He’s telling the rich kid to give away all his money. He’s turning the other cheek. He’s curing bums in the street. He’s a Samaritan-lover. He preaches all this pie-in-the-sky stuff, just like Joe Stalin.” Fred got pretty worked up about it.

But I wonder if that proves the President is a communist. Not all the churches are pro-Jesus. A lot of them, I see where he’s nailed up on the cross. Maybe a warning to people that take him seriously.

— From EF —

My birthday was actually a week ago, but a big event in San Jose coincided, and lots of our friends would be going there. Flexibility R Us, and as a bonus, the change meant that Meg and Eli could spend the actual birthday with us in calm, close family time.

So the party was on the 22nd, and it really rocked. We saw a lot of friends we hadn’t seen in a long while, what with work schedules and geography, and it was great fun getting picked up with big hugs that lifted me into the air. CB helped me stay on a prep schedule that had everything ready on time, and he was a great partner in the kitchen. Italian-style roasted potatoes take a helluva lot of peeling (potatoes and garlic), and it takes a steady touch to load the little delicate filo cups with salmon/caper salad without busting any of them.

Our friends come from many different aspects of our lives, and something I love about our parties is seeing people meet new people, then sit down and really talk for a while. Animated eddies and tide-pools all over the place. And nobody broke anything.

A day later, the kitchen still has a lot of flotsam and jetsam, but the building inspector isn’t coming anytime soon, and I couldn’t care less. I’m still looking with misty eyes and a daffy grin at the piece of posterboard I put by the door, with a jar of colored markers, inviting guests to write whatever they wanted. And they did. Whenever I feel like it, I can read what was written, and feel the love again.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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