Letter from Minnesota 09 26 2018 I’m still here…

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It is a grey and sober day in Bloomington, MN, where I am today, visiting kith and kin before departing next week for Europe – a journey for which I know few details.  I arrive in Paris on the 3rd of October, depart Southampton on the 4th of November aboard the Queen Mary 2, arriving in New York on the 11th.  For my arrival, I have reserved a room at a hotel in Paris in the 16th, not too far, I hope, from friends who live part of the year in the City of Light.

On this grey and sober day, Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford are presenting their different interpretations of an encounter between them in high school.

Last night, I was gifted with attending a performance of HAMILTON by my friend Christine Olson.  Trouble over sexual encounters happened then, too; political careers lost and born on the public reaction to sexual events.

On my weekly call with my friends, Medora and Meryl, I mused on the sense of life sadness that has settled upon me on returning from the Vineyard.  A neighbor in Claverack has succumbed to brain cancer, another friend is being treated for it, another friend has had to take in her grandson to raise because heroin has destroyed his family. Another son of hers could not take custody of his children when their mother was arrested for heroin possession [with her children in the car] because he could not pass a drug test, so they were sent to foster care. The brother of the husband of the couple who cleaned my home was shot to death by police in the parking lot of the restaurant where he worked, allegedly intoxicated and aggressive to a woman, ignoring the police.  A native of Ecuador, I wonder if he understood what the police were asking him to do.

So, I, too, am sober and grey like this Minnesota day, feeling life and death delicately flutter near me, grief near, coupled with the strength of people who go on, their spouses passing, struggling to live, with grace, dignity and humor, even while battling disease and adversity, taking on responsibility not really theirs but for which no one else will.

One night I stayed up with a friend who is enduring and together we howled to the moon, celebrating that at this moment, if only for this moment, we were alive and could howl at the moon, as if we were young men in a younger time that might seem simpler in retrospect than it was in reality, surrounded by nature’s beauty, curated by my friend’s vision.

I am off tonight to dinner with a friend from high school, with a couple of other friends whom we have known for decades, toasting our survival.  As Carlotta sings in “Follies,” “I’m still here…”

Here’s to all of us still here and a toast to all of us who aren’t still here but who were and who are, I hope, singing to us from the stars.

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