It is the First of May. May Day. M’aidez.
I am up with the sun to catch the early flight from London to New York; back to Manhattan, and the shards of my “real life,” after the first quarter of the year decimated it, and me, and much of what I knew to be true.
Last night over dinner, Jade had messaged me that a family friend had passed away. A sandy-haired Krishna with a chosen and exotic name, he had been the best friend of Jade’s father.
I have always marvelled at that — that we could choose for ourselves. That we could fashion our identities around the things we chose; the things that were in our hearts, and not the things that our parents chose for us; chose for themselves.
It had taken me so long to learn that I could choose — it wasn’t until the First of May a few years ago, when I’d turned down a job offer and left BigLaw for good; leapt out into the great unknown of not having a job at all on the cusp of the financial crisis.
And then, a year later on the First of May, I’d moved out of my husband’s house and back down to Washington.
These were choices that my father wouldn’t have made for me; choices that my family didn’t immediately understand and they didn’t quickly approve. They were an identity hard-fought and hard-won.
It seems strange that this figure from my childhood — looming and influential, if largely not present — is suddenly…gone.
I remember, as I dress for the flight, in the wee hours of the London morning, the time that my brother had caught me meditating in my closet when I was quite young. He had found this to be the funniest thing he’d ever seen — and he still brings it up to this day. But I wasn’t ashamed.
And later, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him because he had required the dulcitude of substances to bear the burden of a suburban childhood, whereas I found it much easier to survive. The pressure had been reduced because my Krishna-influenced friends and family had taught me how to meditate, and the Mormons had taught me about my innate worth, and the Jews had given me an abiding love of smoked fish.
So I eat my scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, which comes from room service. And I am driven to Heathrow; hop on a plane. Before takeoff, I message Jade with a link to my favourite kirtan singer’s song about life and death.
Only after the fact does it strike me as funny that I have a favourite kirtan singer.
I sleep fitfully through the flight; land at JFK to a stunning spring day. I had left New York under cover of winter, and returned, having circumnavigated the globe, to Spring.
That’s the thing, really. I recall, too, that this week, PG has completed his journey to the North Pole, and is safe. And this family friend has completed his journey of living. And now I am back on American soil to the beginning of the beginning, on this day that the Lord has Made.
Let us rejoice and be glad.