What a difference a week makes. A couple weekends I was halfway through an epic visit to Chicago with family and friends, culminating in the wedding of two dear ones. I saw many; I wish I had seen more. This last weekend I’m in the middle of an introspective time by myself with Taylor, writing and painting. The more I paint, the more I write, the more I discover about myself. By the time I say goodbye to this weekend… I’ll have posted at least four entries into my blog (not including this one)… I’ll have painted at least five pieces. It helps that each morning started with a beautiful grey hue left by a foggy night. It helps that each morning gave way to a sunny afternoon off my balcony. And it helped that a super moon looked majestically over Taylor and I at night. And this coming weekend, I will be off the Pacific Coast Highway for a wedding seeing old friends from high school.
But this is not about today. This is about a few days that started ten days ago, at 4 AM on a Thursday morning, followed by a stressful drive to SFO where I wasn’t sure if I’d make the flight to Chicago. It’s nice to have a look back, and know that I did. I made the flight. I’ve decided to press rewind, and relive the rest in present tense, beginning with a night in February earlier this year which set the stage for the weekend two weeks ago.
“Sometimes the best sound in the world is that of waves crashing amidst a cool black night. And the only thing better is that of conversations with dear friends over dinner before that.
Tonight, I had dinner at Sam’s Cafe, famous in Tiburon, with two of my closest friends – Dominique and Justin, as they drove up from San Francisco. Famous as a weekend destination spot teeming with life on Saturdays, it’s a destination spot full of visitors from the city. And sometimes on a slow Tuesday night, albeit quite a bit slower, it brings a smaller crowd, every bit as cool.
Earlier today, George picked up his 100 plus pound American Bulldog – Lawrence aka The Law-dawg aka Law aka The Law – this afternoon. (That ornery big f-ck wouldn’t let anyone else pick him off the ground. He knew something was up, but couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t get off the ground.) He was recently diagnosed with bone cancer, and just had his hind right leg amputated. He’s home safe, doped up, starting the long road to recovery in his new life as the three-legged wonder. 18 weeks of chemo in store; praying for him to make it thru that as well as finding his legs again.
And though I went thru my day feeling low and slow, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for my brother and for his dog. And so I had dinner with two of my closest friends, cos I knew their very presence would put a smile on my face on a day when my heart needed it.”
I thought back to that day and that night as I fell asleep on the plane. That journal entry would come back full circle. Central to this weekend would be my brother and his wife and Law; and central to this weekend would be that couple I had dinner with – Dominique and Justin, who were getting married. And central to this weekend were the others in Chicago near and dear to me.
After landing in O’Hare, walking its familiar halls down to the el, where I took the Blue Line into the city, for the first time in eighteen months. At the Damen stop, I got off, walked down the steps thru the turnstiles, outside to my old neighborhood, took a selfie, then stared for a few long minutes to the spot on the Damen/North/Milwaukee intersection where I was hit by a car on a bitter cold morning 7:28 AM on 22 December 2008.
And now I am with my brother and his dog Lawrence, my dog Taylor’s brother. Law’s fought through six rounds of chemo. Fulling expecting and bracing myself for it, my eyes welled the instant I saw him again, the first time since I moved to the Bay Area. (And again I remembered that night in February at Sam’s Cafe in Tiburon when I was sending love to Law the day of his surgery.) A giant of a dog, much bigger than mine, and extremely intimidating to strangers, he’s both kind and gentle to those he loves. He’s been an inspiration, heroic in his continued fight. During a few days with people that I love, spending time with him was my favourite. And that day, I spent it best catching up with my brother and his wife, and the Law-dawg. Day one should always be with your brother. And this is just the beginning.
The entire weekend was epic. Blessed with so many people that I love and that love me, time is precious in Chicago. I was blessed to meet Mikayla, Paulie & Lynn’s beautiful newborn. I was blessed to play ball with little Stella & littler Dylan, both of whom are growing up way too fast, and to spend time with their parents Kemper & Susan. I was blessed to have lunch with my buddy Dutter and Alex. I was blessed to catch up and spend quality time with my friends Jay, DaveRisner, Mindy & Dan, Raym & Cari, Jodie, Jane, Harpo, Dom, Bobby & Tommy, Damon, Aaron, Jason, Matt, etc. The weekend was a whirlwind, exactly the way I would have wanted. Every turn in the city brought back more and more memories. Living in my condo brought back even more, especially the last two nights when I slept in the living room, staring out into the city through my floor-to-ceiling windows – my city, Gotham City – my neighborhood, The West Loop.
Back to that night in Tiburon, two people I hold dear in my heart got married over the weekend. Dominique & Justin moved to San Francisco a month after I moved to the Bay Area. Over the past year, as our friendship deepened, I was honored when they asked me to stand up at their wedding to read a beautiful poem by E.E. Cummings. What’s serendipitous about that poem is they only revealed its name and author only after I dreamt that I would read it at their wedding. I dreamt that dream the night after I was first introduced to the poem by another friend at a time when I needed to read it.
At their wedding, when it was time, I rose from my seat, walked to stand in front of them to say these words…
“To know Dom and Justin is to love them. They complement each other so well. And they truly change the lives of the people around them for the better. As I feel they have mine.
This poem is very special. The night before Dom & Justin asked me to read it, I had a dream that I had read this very same poem on this day standing in front of you know celebrating Dom & Justin’s lifetime of love and commitment to each other’s heart.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
BY E. E. CUMMINGS
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”
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