Being Here Together

An ordinary Saturday in Oakland.  It was and it wasn’t. I bicycled across West Grand Avenue to Adam’s and together we went to the farmer’s market, shopping for the last of summer’s tomatoes, pluots, peaches, plums. Lettuce appears still to be plentiful. Northern California has a bountiful harvest extending late into the autumn, at least autumn as perceived by an Easterner though not here.

Years ago, though it doesn’t seem like that many, we would go to a different farmers market, in Ossining, New York.  Adam was still in high school and I was still at home.  That was before the final upheaval, when life was only smoldering not yet erupted.

After we finished our shopping we went back to Adam’s and made a light lunch of tomatoes and basil leaves on artisanal seeded rye bread, listened to the somehow appropriate ethereal Sufjan Stevens, before deciding on the spur of the moment, to walk over to the Grand Lake Theater to see Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood. I had seen the movie already, and hadn’t liked the fictional fairytale portrayal of the real-life horrific murders. This time, knowing how it ends, I saw the deep nostalgia, the heart stopping sadness of all that was lost when those four were killed. Something died in America and it wasn’t only four innocent victims and an unborn child.

Adam drove me home in time to coordinate with Bowdoin friends he was seeing for dinner. Life lived as normal, even when it isn’t.

Normal in the face of calamity: this seems to be a theme this year. I lived for five months under a cloud of normalcy, blanking out the thunderous storm of divorce. My storm was a mere squall compared to Adam’s cancerous tornado. Yet we strive for routine to keep the fear and heartbreak away.

I hope my wife is finding all the satisfaction she desired in her dissolution of our marriage. Nature inflicts enough meaningless misery.  I hope the misery she inflicted has some meaning for her, some existential kind of happiness to justify her clarity of vision.

The coming week will be a turning point, the beginning of Adam’s treatment. Let it be a turn towards recovery and health. In which being here together is enough.

Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous.

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one…
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.


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