Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hanabata days

The weeks are long. Even with one ‘extra’ hour of sleep thanks to the time change, the weekends are just too short.

We drove up to Santa Barbara - - a little earlier in the day than we normally do. Traffic cooperated all the way up, so it was a nice drive up, and the day was bright and beaming, the ocean endlessly blue. The Channel Islands off in the distance were as clear as I’ve ever seen. It all helps to give me a bit more hope, a bit more peace. We so need the weekends to recharge and buoy our energies and hopes, to prepare to do battle during the week that awaits.

The drive up was a bit melancholy for me. I’d heard that a high school classmate of mine was killed in a small plane crash along with her husband and kids. I can’t help but stop and take stock, realize that we need to try to live our lives on our own terms, but also balance that drive with acceptance and a sense of peace with what we do have. I think of other classmates that we’ve lost, all too soon, and the silent struggles that I know my friends are going through, the strength that people are asking and expecting, the reservoirs that sometimes run so low. These may not have been people that I’d been in close contact with since graduation, or even in school, but I remember the smiles, the youthful spirit, and the promise of a future that we all boldly shared.

At graduation, our principal proclaimed our class ‘piquant’.
We all went, silently in unison: “Huh?”.
After Grad night, we all had to consult our college-bound dictionaries:

1. agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor; pleasantly biting or tart: a piquant aspic.
2. agreeably stimulating, interesting, or attractive: a piquant glance.
3. of an interestingly provocative or lively character: a piquant wit.
4. Archaic. sharp or stinging, esp. to the feelings.

I think they were trying to tell us that we really were a feisty bunch, a real pain in the #$&%, but that they still liked us. At least, that was my take on trying to put a positive spin on it. It was certainly more descriptive than being a ‘together’ or ‘discerning’ class. I think ‘piquant’ was actually quite appropriate.

In the years since, I’ve found our piquant class to be unusually caring, in our own distinct and separate ways. We keep touch through emails, normally passing along, unfortunately, sad news, as was the case this past week. I was on campus last year and ran into the College Guidance secretary, Mrs. Y. It took a while for her to place me and my class and classmates. She commented that while we were in school and in the years since, she’s had the impression that our class was really, really close. I said, “Oh?”. We always seemed to be at odds with one another. Mrs. Y said that, yes, there was that. But, she also observed that if one of our classmates was down or needed support, even while we were in high school, that the class would converge and rally around each other, very fiercely protective - - something she said was pretty clear and also unusual. She was heartened to hear that time had softened the sharper edges, and that the feeling of support and affection remains strong and grows, still. Some people are still a bit distant, standoffish, and I shrug. The memories and ties that have remained strong, they go far, far back; and I am thankful for them.

Yeah, Hanabata days.

So I sit, while J drives us up the coast, closing my eyes and enjoying the warmth of the sun, driving along the long stretch of open blue ocean. I sigh to myself: I don’t remember agreeing to letting life get so damn grown up.

So, I miss you guys; whatever part you played, it’s all very much a part of me, layers that give depth and texture to my life. I remember things that surprise me. Who spoke at Graduation? Did Elke get to say, “Tough times don’t last. But, tough people do.”? See? The things that stay with you.

So, you. Yes, you. And you, too, if you can imagine:
Think of the days we spent cutting mangos during the summer for mango chutney,
being at Bellows on any one of those perfect, suntanned days,
listening to Chris Campbell’s cockroach haiku,
that first bite into a fresh, hot malasada,
ah, the smell of ginger, pikake, and maile.
Got that set in your mind? Yeah. :)
I send you that kind of aloha and wish you that kind gentle sweetness for your days ahead. Hugs for the little ones and, boy, I hope to see you in June*.

xox & aloha,

* For the record, Marla and I, we want to call dibs for working in the beer tent.


Nina Berry said...

Ah! Memories! Life is busy and crazy, but I miss you and all them and even them sometimes too.

On a sad note, which of our classmates died? Oy. Loss upon loss. Hope you are well.