Ubuntu Brunch of Champions, And Other Stories

I am of the firm belief that there are few aches that a champagne brunch cannot soothe.  I think there are few who would disagree with me.

In my little group of friends, we have taken some hits among us lately.  Some of them have been big, and life-changing; some of them have been odd, and perspective-changing; and some of them may simply be the result of Mercury in retrograde again.

So we brunched.

My friend Strand is a particularly good cook — the kind whose food is thoughtful; whose food is adventurous, creative; whose cooking is your needs answered.  Her food answers needs you didn’t even realize you had, until you take a mouthful of her homemade spicy kettlecorn that she just happened to show up with, and you are instantly taken back to long runs around the Perimeter when you were at UCLA, where you would stop at the Farmer’s Market in Westwood Village after your run and pick up a bag of fresh kettlecorn, and you remember, 10-12 years later, why you started running in the first place.  And as the heat of the spicy part of the snack hits you, you are unexpectedly reminded of  tasting smoked paprika for the first time, in Spain, at the Olympic Harbour in Barcelona, before snoozing on the lawn as the water lapped the grass.

And suddenly, you are on a topsy-turvy taste-journey in just one mouthful of the spicy kettlecorn that just happened to show up one evening.  Her cooking is that good; that sensory; that powerful.

So Strand cooks a lot.  And I make some food; and others show up with delicious things made and bought; and from time-to-time, we Brunch.

Strand tells a story about how, when her family first moved to New York from Northern Virginia, her mother sent her to Lutheran Church Camp in Atlanta.  And the theme was “Ubuntu!”  Which, to 14-year-old Strand, was borderline ridiculous.  So there was singing and dancing and cheering about “Ubuntu!” with absolutely no explanation of what, precisely, Ubuntu! was.

One Winesday, we seized upon this, as we are wont to do, and Ubuntu! became a Winesdayism.  (If you follow my #winesday tweets, you may know how quickly, and absurdly things can become Winesdayisms.)

I digress.  This is about Brunch, which, on Saturday was an all-girl affair.  And there we were on Saturday: a roundtable of retrograde angst and girlpower, staring down a buffet of carbs, sweets, and a punchbowl full of Positively Lethal Champagne Punch (I’ll post that “recipe” another time).

Was it us; was it men; was it circumstance that had brought us to this peculiar crossroads?  Where were we; where are we going?  Obviously, these questions had to be answered individually, but they were tossed about in the collective (for six champagne-soaked hours.)

Over the course of the brunch, we were visited by an Olympic gold-medalist (who was a former world-record holder), and we carried on with the ordinary, extraordinary ministrations of dispensing and receiving advice.

After everyone had left, and after I’d gone for a(n admittedly awful) post-6+ hour brunch attempt at the gym, I bothered to look up the real meaning of Ubuntu.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu had offered this meaning:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

And more simply, the philosophy was stated:  I am what I am because of who we all are.

What had begun as a silly story, and had continued as a saying between friends suddenly took on new meaning.  Rather, it captured the meaning it was meant to have all along.  We had, unwittingly, been using the term quite properly from the start.

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