How do I love thee?
I love my nephew/godson. On Saturday, I took him to the zoo. I took him on the endangered species carousel (we rode an endangered ape of some sort), I fed him syrupy purple frozen treats, he fed me soggy Cheerios, we fed nectar to some chirpy brightly-colored exotic birds. We petted a llama and a cow. He insisted on staying for the entire birds of prey demonstration. Finally, sun-toasted, soggy, sticky, and sleepy, we hiked out to the car at the end of the dusty parking lot, only to find one of my back tires completely flat. I accidentally taught my sweet twenty-month old nephew a very bad word.
At least I knew where the spare tire was. I pulled it out all by myself, opened the included baggy of helpful tools, handed those tools to my nephew, one by one, asking repeatedly if Nephew knew what each one was for. I sure didn't. Nephew chewed on the big brass eyehook screw thingy while I started to read the instructions. Two men reluctantly approached me, saying that their wives saw me reading directions for the jack, and would I like for them to help me. I'm very bad at admitting to anyone that I need help with anything, ever, but I'd already gotten some mysterious, icky, greasy smudge on my lovely hands, yuck, so I eagerly accepted their assistance. One of the men had put himself through college by working for AAA, and not only changed the tire and loaded the busted one in the car, but he diagnosed the cause of the flat and checked the other three tires, and told me how serious the problem was and how much it might cost to repair (EEK!). Then, after they refused any money and returned to their car, they pulled up behind me and the AAA guy reminded me not to drive more than 50 mph until I got a replacement tire. Instead of letting me buy them lunch of a case of beer, they requested that I take the favor and "pass it on."
I love helpful parking lot strangers with practical skills that I don't possess who encourage me to be a better person. In the last two weeks, I have helped two of my friends by introducing them to each other. I have a very dear friend whom I've adopted as my (older, very small, Italian) sister, whose family I lived with for far longer than I needed to mostly because I just love them so much, whose husband I admire and adore, and whose children I brag about to all who will listen. This friend is perpetually short on money and staff in her book and paper conservation business. I have a new friend who I barely know but with whom I share several interests and who is at the beginning of a career that I have had for some years and who I have tried to advise. This new friend sought my advice on summer housing in my old city where she has a fellowship. I have arranged for her to live with my other friend and to have a second fellowship in her conservation studio, a resume attribute that will be invaluable when she enters the job market next year. This week, I arranged for another new friend, one who is earnestly attempting to stave off debt-collectors but who has failed to avoid eviction, to housesit for my other new friend this summer, when she goes off to live with my old friend. This way my very poor friend will have three months to save money and get back on her feet, my other new friend will know her home here is safe and will have a great place to live in DC for a few months, and my old friend will get some extra income and staffing. Works great for everybody and I feel good about making it happen, even though all I had to do was pay attention and make a couple of calls.
I love my friends. I have these new friends now, since I moved 500 miles away and renounced my previous home, career, lover, lifestyle, and mental health. When I came here, I spent a few months lying around wondering just what in the heck I was supposed to do with the rest of my vacant, empty life. I eventually emerged (very slowly) and began experimenting with activities I'd let fall to the side in my misguided and unconscious pursuit of the life I'd just renounced. I started to sing again, just to see whether I could still do it and if I still liked it. I could and did, and that month-long experiment earned me an audition and position in a prestigious local choir which, for the last eight months, has taught me an awful lot about music and myself, and has given me a gaggle of new friends--some close and dear, some casual, and some somewhere in between. This last Sunday was Easter, just about the biggest day of the year for this choir, and I spent the whole day with these new friends. There were hugs and backrubs and well-wishes and kisses and smiles and compliments and a communion of effort and talent and intention that is too rare in this world. To be a cog in an successful ensemble is to receive a piece of living poetry and is a joy so precious. I am very accomplished in personal achievement, and that's wonderful, of course, but it's not the same as sharing that success with someone. And that, right there, is my signature issue and the real reason I consider myself incomplete while I lack that permanent partner. This is why I am perpetually lonely. However, my music friends have been great company this holy week. I spent Monday in one of their courtyards, drinking beer and playing games with three or four others. I spent Tuesday in my favorite pub, listening to a band and telling stories with four or five of them. I spent Wednesday in rehearsal with all of them and Wednesday night in a restaurant talking deeply with two of them. I spent Friday performing with them and Friday night at dinner with three of them. On Sunday I performed with all of them for three services (for five hours) and ate breakfast with all of them then ate lunch with two of them then cuddled with one of them. That one called this morning to check whether I had replaced my bad tire and to remind me that it was dangerous to drive with the temporary one and to say that he wanted me to be safe. Ladies and gentlemen, THAT is my kind of love. Love is making sure her tires are safe and his socks are clean.
Joss requested love poems on Johnny Depp. I wrote this:
My Depp, he is quick keen, sweet earnest as
The thirst of sun-burnt youths afloat on docks.
The fiery stars and frozen sea like jazz
In turn arise, his eyes, like bourbon'n rocks.
His mouth, his face, are soulful, ardent, and
Alert. His sentience (loving, kind) is bare,
As pure as tempting, young seductors' glands
New loosed on hags, who, sad, sought such in prayer.
Though youthful, fresh, he's yet neglected, dog-
Eared, coarse. His hair, his clothes, fall free, relaxed.
A plebeian soubrette, though also fogged
With airs of wise and weary wit too taxed.
It's not his hair or stance we beauty call,
But soul and gut combined, result of all.
(With thanks to the master, Alexander Pope)
However, Johnny Depp doesn't care whether my tires are safe.