Letter From New York, October 4, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

Outside it is pouring rain and I’m curled on a couch in the cottage, ruminating on the last two weeks, wondering about what I want to write. As I have been thinking about this missive, I have been thinking of people.

Just hours ago, I heard my cousin Marion, whom I always thought of as an Aunt, given the disparity in our ages, had passed away, luckily surrounded by family, including her wonderful sister Virginia, who is so long suffering, gentle, sweet and forgiving that she deserves the sobriquet: saint. She is one of the most loving humans I have ever encountered or probably will ever encounter. She suffered my mother, in all her moods and wonders, lovingly and with persistent kindness, always a wonder to me, a gift we all appreciated. Marion was tougher and more pragmatic albeit loving and between the two of them they allowed our mother to live at home longer than she would have been able to if they had not been present. I’ll lift a glass to the two of them this evening.

I also thought this week of a livery driver who picked me up this week, a man from Ecuador, who loved this country because of the opportunities it would give his children. He worked fourteen hours a day, seven days a week, in order that his daughters could go to good secondary schools and then get into good colleges. Both were doing well and the oldest had just been accepted into the John Jay College of Justice in Manhattan. He was bursting with pride and I marveled at him; I work hard but driving fourteen hours a day in New York? He represented to me the immigrant experience which is America and which has driven us along through history and made me wince when I think of some of the anti-immigration legislation being made in states like Alabama. I don’t know all the rights and wrongs; I do wonder about it all. We are, all of us, after all, children of immigrants and we should remember that heritage.

And mostly, I relished remembering the marriage this past weekend of my friends, Gary and Angel, two men whom I helped meet and who, in their marriage, helped me understand the institution of marriage in a way I had never before comprehended, viscerally. Marriage, to me as a baby boomer, has seemed somewhat redundant, a non-necessity, something, perhaps, a bit archaic and even anachronistic.

But then I attended their wedding and saw the importance and the joy of declaring love to a community and committing oneself to the other in the presence of that community.

Gary and Angel met each other two years ago. From the first date they have constantly discovered new layers within the other that have deepened their respect and admiration of the other and in that deepening have grown to a place where their love is incandescent – a rare thing to be treasured in the human experience and something that is a treasure to all who know them.

Because they are two men they would have not been able to declare their love in this way until recently and now they can and in helping witness their marriage I understood why two people of any combination would want to publicly declare their love and to incorporate their union through the laws of the land, to make it public, legal, not inescapable but more complex to part. They have a love so profound as to dazzle the people around them, including me. And I now understand why people want to be married, to publically and legally declare their love for one another. I was privileged to have been with them as they declared their commitment and were united in marriage.

So, as I finish this week’s letter, I lift my hat to all of us, living our lives, passing through on the great journey called life, to the celebrations at joyful moments and the acknowledgement of the hard ones – the marriages and the deaths, the hard long hours most of us put in to make our lives the dream we dream.

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