the river. with family

The river came to us and met us at her banks, midday and summer hot, we had only to approach her like disciples with our faith in her and find our place (which seemed designed for us, divined for us) where she came flush with the land, a mossy patch of soil leveling there with the freshwaters. we laid a thin blanket down and had submarines for lunch with cuts of avocado and alfalfa and cream cheese on bread. we used the sub wrappings as plates and we talked. there was my older brother, m&m (my niece), Skipper the dog, and me. they were on their way to Tahoe from the Bay, and thought of me and stopped by for lunch. i decided on the river cause i had not seen my niece in so long, and i wanted us to have a peaceful place to reconnect. besides a few river rats around us (i mean locals who were mostly friendly albeit boisterous), we were all enfolded there into the pastoral scene as if we had been painted in by a master, in oils and acrylics on canvas. nothing here could or would speak to the frenetic city behind us or the insane politics of the world. we had shade from the heat and a chance to show one another the kindnesses of a decade ago. i cannot believe i lost her for so long, the greater part of which I can attribute to life’s path, problems and poor choices i made. while they were trying to raise a family in the twenty-first century, i was literally falling and climbing and slipping and reinventing myself and trying to manage in a world which i didn’t think really wanted me. i seemed to have marginalized myself, but it wasn’t all my fault. it was just my life. and nobody was really blaming anyone, but the river between us could not be forded back then.

now we found ourselves on the same banks, reunited, and i had my lucky break after several years of remedying the mischief of my life and lifestyle, involved in many decent and useful causes these days, full of purpose these days. i got the chance to speak my truth, and m&m got hers, and i had a wonderful listen while my brother her father sat between us and the dog at our feet, panting in the heat. my brother and sister (in-law) have done a fine job parenting as anyone could do. i am grateful to them, not having made that commitment myself. anyway i can be a part of the family, is good enough for me, anyway i can help. today it means not being demanding or complaining or selfish, just staying open to any opportunity may come along, for i love them and that’s all i know. i was not so attentive to my family in my twenties or even in my thirties, so overwhelmed was i by my own life. and unhappy or depressed some of the time. vices and habits and poor choices in company. you know the story. i may be at fault for many things, but not for becoming who i am today.

so here we are, the past behind us, making what we can of our moment together. i didn’t seem to think we had much in common anymore, me and my family. but i learned in truth, by my experience (such is truth) that when you have blood in common, that alone is the mark which oughta draw you together; blood alone oughta bring out the best in us. to be there for family no matter how incongruent your aims, how varied your pursuits, how rocky the terrain of your individual temperaments. you show yourself (when welcome) and give of yourself as only you can. i may not be any great success of any kind, yet i have survived a sometimes cold and callous world, city life, and the effects of an often misguided sense of my place in it all. so i am blessed to reach out and be received. we had a nice lunch. we had a nice talk. we saw a sea creature surfacing every half minute for air, as it plodded upriver. it was unusual and mysterious. My brother and niece were both worried that it needed salt water to survive. Skipper the dog met a friend. the river rats began splashing about just down from us. the sun reached the top of the sky and looked down. it could not quite find us. we packed up to go. i believe this is as good a new beginning as any. my niece she seemed unsure at first, and i was a bit anxious, but walking back to the car beside her i felt the good feeling with them, knowing we are blood, we have good history, and there’s hope – the sun has found us now – and nothing means more to me than this.

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