Friday, September 16, 2005

Once again, I haven't posted for almost a week. Not because of lack of things to say, but almost because of too many things. The thoughts rush to the forefront of my mind and my fingers can only type so much or be asked to operate so far above a human level. Then, there is the time it takes, and the other projects that I have going that have not even been so much as a pixel on this blog. Yes, they are, believe it or not, some personal projects.

My mom had a big bash for her 65th birthday last Saturday, and it was great. Along with old, new friends and family, she transplanted the entire neighborhood of Bolton Hill to Prince Frederick, MD to celebrate at the house of her friends who graciously offered their abode. These same friends also have a rowhouse across from my mom and Jack, and another house somewhere else. It was about an hour and a half drive, and I had my sister and nephew in my car with me as we drove on two-lane roads through tall trees and expansive horse farms. We passed many homemade signs advertising corn, tomatoes, fruit, cheese, and several fruit stands with urban and non-urban dwellers pulled over to stock up on freshly grown produce. Horses grazed lazily on the lawn and hawks flew low overhead, their wings stretched out to the last feather. Alec slept in the car.

At the party, which was set in an expansive yard nestled in tall trees, a blue grass band played wonderful music, and an entire pig roasted on a spit over an outside grill. The grill was so large that it was hitched to the chef's truck for transport. I watched as the man, who had risen at 2:00AM to get the pig from an Amish farmer and then start cooking, finely chopped the roasted pork into tiny pieces with a small axe. He pulled some of the pork as well to give people a choice. What an art, and it was delicious beyond description. We had Kosher meats for our Jewish friends, cooked separately. Also served up was Cole slaw, deviled eggs, potato salad, and barbecue sauce. I made a mountain of delish on a hamburger bun, piling chopped pork, Cole slaw, and barbecue sauce on it. I had the potato salad and deviled eggs on the side. Oh. My. God.

A master at work, preparing the feast.

A first happened at the party, and that was that Dan, Chase, my sister Joan and I were together for the first time. Dan and Chase are Jack's children, my step siblings. We realized it when we talked that it was a first. Dan and I had both lived in NYC and Los Angeles at the same time, and even both worked for Microsoft at the same time. Dan was in Seattle before his move to LA, and I was in LA during that stint. Our gatherings had always been a combination of two or three of us, but never all four sharing the same breathing space. To put that into perspective, my mom and Jack got married 15 years ago. But they married when all of us were in college or about to go to college, and living in separate parts of the country. Dan and I have shared cities together twice, and therefore gotten close that way. It was awkward at first, having steps at such a late age, but it all came together.

I think I got to speak to just about everyone, which included throwing a football with the kids and realizing I could throw a mean spiral, even while wearing sequined sandals. It was just a good day out, reminiscent of gatherings that we used to have when we were little at friends' houses in the heat of summer, playing until the sun fell into dusk, and in many cases well into dark. The elements, smells, sounds, large unusual insects, animals, applications of mosquito repellent, voices, warm lights, benches on expansive front porches and varied ages collecting on them. Always food available and always an extra hand for yard games. Feeling like a big shot when one of the adults asked you to get them a beer from the cooler. The sounds of the celebration of life, friendship, family, and companionship. It was all there that night, and perfect. I know that my mom had a wonderful time. And, I know this will be a fond memory for Alec.

After the party and drive home to my mom's house, the four adult children who had never shared the same space had drinks together. Chase made some wonderful Cosmopolitans and we all chatted, laughed, and talked. Dan, who abstained from the chick drink and had wine, just got back from doing Hurricane coverage from the NBC branch in North Carolina. After Chase and Joan retired to bed, Dan and I, the tale of two cities, moved outside and talked about the future. Both of us are at a crossroads, and Dan particularly is finding it frustrating. He has wonderful, prestigious experience, but wants a change of direction. I want the same but have found a respite with The Wire, and with making time for my personal projects. Both have given me purpose. There are days I feel stuck, or that no one but me will ever see the results of my efforts, but it is there, regardless. And the days where I feel I have accomplished nothing, I can open them up and look at them.

So we sat, late into the night across from the dorm, a renovated brick hospital that houses MICA students. The alcohol had settled into my system, giving me a good buzz. Occasionally I would glance into the dorm windows and remember my time at art school. So much unknown and so much potential in that unknown, and my thoughts would drift to what that art student would think of me now.

I guess that would depend on the day. But right then, I was glad that I was sitting out on a beautiful night with Dan, enjoying good conversation and good alcohol after a day spent with family, friends, and awesome food. I wasn't confined to a dorm room with Melancholy Molly and her depressing music, worried about finishing an assignment due the next day. I have a strange feeling that if any of those art students looked out and saw us, we were the ones to be envied that night.

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