Friday, January 30, 2009

A Day with David

It has been another day in my head. Another day on the road. But not just another day because today… was a day spent with my friend, my mentor, my guru, and my buddy..David B.

We walked, at a brisk pace around a neighborhood lake. David's stories began to slip out.

"When you hold a beautiful goblet you have to imagine it broken, destroyed, gone. Hold the two images in your mind as one. The goblet whole, the shattered glass… hold that image in your mind an you are in the moment"

We agreed that pursuing a life as teachers and thinkers would make dying a little easier and that a quick death from say… sudden cardiac arrest would be preferable to dying by inches. David said that while he was in the hospital he thought about his life and could say that it was one of abundance and fulfillment.

“Character and an Open Mind are all you have. You make what you can of life from there... You always want more time but what I’ve had has been very good.”

David left the hospital with a list of changes he wanted to make only to soon discover that it was the ordinary joys and actions of everyday life he really craved. “I just wanted to be me again.” He found in the moment his life: washing dishes, brewing a cup of tea… in the ordinary was everything.

A walk through the trees touched for a day by a weak Indian summer was a fine setting for a walk and talk with my newest oldest friend. We bantered a bit about the situational politics of the current work. All the while ambling up on the reality of his heart attack.

What are the risks vs. rewards of placing a defibrillator into your heart?

I told David about Brenna’s recommendations and my intention of honoring them because she was a health care professional that loved me. I mentioned my treadmill and the scans.

That’s when David admitted he was pondering inserting a shock device into his heart. A restart button if things go south. His Washington Lawyer friend had one and owned that when they tested it he went from sitting to standing without knowing it.

I pushed the topic a bit and asked how it was to have his life back…

He responded with a story about Robinson Crusoe. Stuck on your island with three bags of grain. You don’t know how long you’ll be there. You have to plan on how to make the grain last. How much do you eat how much do you plant? Do you live well now, eating loaves of bread only to run out and face stark reality?

Later, back at his house as we sat in the living room watching the sun set on a late autumn river and filtered by willows… there just beyond the glass the geese honked and we kept talking and rocking.

Planning time seems so different to him now. It used to be easy to plan 5, 10, and 20 years out. Now all he can plan is wine purchasing…and he wonders when to start drinking the very best of his collection… it would be a shame to leave it untested.

I delivered a hug from Jan before I left.

I suggested that one day we’d have a conversation on the front porch of a villa in Crete.

We shook hands and said words of affirmation. We planned the next call and the next meetings.

Unspoken in both of us is the knowledge that we may never see each other again… not on this Earth at least. This is how it really is each time we part from someone we’ve grown to love… We may never see each other again.

I see Kyle’s face, I see Erin’s face, I see Brenna’s face, I see Janice’s face, I see my father’s face, I see my mother’s face, by brother’s faces…. And, although I’m alone, I see them all… am I in the now?

Right now I’m eating cashew chicken in a chop suey joint off of Batavia road in Warrenville Illinois. I’m having another solo meal of Midwestern cashew chicken while typing between bites to catch the feeling of this rare day.

Can I hold that image in my mind each time I see one of those precious few faces? Can I see you now and when?

It’s easier to picture a glass whole and broken; still it’s a useful thought. How to be in the very moment and touch the essence of what you truly love?

The broken glass is whole, is broken, and is whole.

(I wrote this on October 29, 2005. David and I are still kicking.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Take the tamales and run

fishing 4 Cabo January 2009, originally uploaded by WiredTraveler.
We flew down to Cabo using Volaris, a Mexican national airline. It was terrific for the most part. Took a bus from the Sante Fe Train station in San Diego to the airport in Tijuana and jumped down to Cabo del San Jose. Captain Ritter was a fishing guru, Don Pedro of Zac was full of magic energy as he mined the deep tracks, the food, the sudoku, the yoda! Great trip. Friendship, beach walks, fishing... so sweet.
We did have a bit of an adventure returning to Tijuana.

Our bags were searched at the Volaris counter and our tuna was seized. Apparently the only acceptable way to transport atune is sealed in a portable cooler. For a moment I thought the tamales were going to go as well. The tamale lady in the plaza at San Jose Del Cabo is an artist. The best tamales in the world... (losing the tuna and the tamales would have dropped me to my knees.)

I was ready to walk away from the tuna. Indeed after it was all out there on the table, pulled from our bags and unveiled from the soggy newspaper I pushed it all towards the security team and told them to enjoy. I was ready to take the tamales and run.

Then I heard a sound like the whistle on a boiling teapot and noticed the steam coming out of Jan's coiffure. One look at her eyes and I knew I needed to just get the hell out of the way.

I retired from the negotiations and Jan took over.

She fought harder at the airport for the tuna than I did catching it.

Jan talked to everyone. I was ready to quit in the face of sad eyed rejection. Not Jan.

She took off across the airport and attempted to buy coolers from anyone who had them. I chased after her, worried about the plane leaving. No coolers were to be found. So she went to all the food places asking folks for help. No help. She finally found a large ice-chest at one of the restaurants and cajoled the staff with offers of BIG PESOS! No luck, they were all afraid of loosing their jobs by selling the restaurant equipment to la gringa loca. One young girl got her older brother to explain to Jan that it just couldn't be done. Many shrugs and shaking heads.

I threw in the towel for about the fourth time, pointed to the time and muttered we were going to miss our plane. On our way back to the departure lounge we passed heavily armed soldiers. I could see them wince and back up as Jan stalked by.

It was then that Jan started getting stubborn.

As I fretted over the time, Jan wove her way though the crowd to the Volaris desk where we'd left the tuna. It was now sitting in a trash basket still wrapped in newspaper. She told them we'd bought a cooler and it was waiting at the metal detector in the boarding area. The Volaris folks said we couldn't take the tuna from the check in area. Our plane was leaving in 10 minutes! Much pleading, many gestures, shrugs, nervous looks. Tick-tock. I could see from everyone's faces that they were just going to shrug until our plane took off.

Finally the security folks suggested Jan talk with a fellow at the next counter. The main security guard stalked off and Jan went to work on the next guy down the line. Turns out he didn't work for Volaris and had no power at all. He worked for the next airline down the isle and had made the mistake of inserting himself in the negotiations.

All he could do was offer a sheepish grin and shrug his shoulders.


Jan asked him if we could just stuff the tuna in the carry on and take it the next security checkpoint.

All he could do was shrug. ( I think he was worried about catching a purse upside the head.)

So, we stuffed all the remaining tuna (three bags had already walked off) into our big carry on bag and hustled out of there leaving a trail of damp gringo gazettes. I tried not to list carrying the bag it must have been double overweight.

Once we were lost in the crowd, we skated through the metal detectors luckily tuna doesn't register on their machines, just belt buckles. No one even blinked at the wire stuffed electronic tense box on Jan's hip.

After that it was clear sailing. No problema on the flight. Bus ride was fine (and very fast). INS Border lines were short for those on the bus and we cleared the US customs without a hitch. A sad eyed guy asked me for my birth certificate. I told him what happened and he just shrugged and passed me through. (They didn't even ask if we had anything to declare).

Erin picked us up at the Sante Fe terminal in town. We had Tamales at her house, watched the Pittsburg / Ravens game and drove home.

Kyle had taken down the Christmas tree and cleaned the house. Unlike previous years we didn't find bald cats, a green pool, or any obvious wreckage... other than Jan. The day's travel and negotiations took a toll on her. I put her to bed wrapped in salompas patches, heating pads and ice-bags (not at the same time!). That did the trick and she slept off the trip.

So, back in the USA and I'm already planning to take the BMW down to Tijuana for paint & body and some carb tuning! We'll spend the night. Hit a good restaurant, shop some cheap pottery and wait for the car work to be done.

What could go wrong? It's a perfect plan!

It's a year later and I'm thinking about Mexico again.  Here's a photo I got from Donnie just the the other day: