This weekend we had a houseful of people, just as I sometimes like it. We haven't done so in many moons. Michael and I were honored to provide the venue for the graduation celebration of one of his Bowdoin College photography students, John-Paul, aka JP.
On Friday, JP and his mother Sheila, his best childhood friend Marcus, and his girlfriend Andrea showed up after having driven twelve hours from West Virginia with pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, and began making a feast for Saturday's fifteen-plus guests. All of us were fully vaccinated. It was delightful to have such pleasant and loving company bustling mask-free around the house while I cared for my sick kid. While listening to FIP French radio, I watched things unfold from my perch on the green couch with Calvin cradled in my lap.
The house filled with the savory aroma of chicken sautéed in garlic, cilantro and other herbs. Seemingly without effort, Sheila and her crew of sous-chefs produced an incredible spread: pollo Ezequiel (as far as I could tell, all-dark chicken pieces breaded and fried, then stewed with herbs and Kalamata olives), asparagus spears topped with chopped hard-boiled eggs and tomato under a honey-lemon drizzle, poached salmon with a sour cream dill dressing, and couscous with dried cherries.
Throughout the day, Calvin gave hugs and sat contentedly in JP's and Andrea's laps. Although JP is only four or so years older than Calvin—both sporting a bit of facial hair—the difference between them is legion. JP, who is probably six feet three inches tall, lifted Calvin easily into his lap and held him sweetly, as if Calvin were an infant or toddler brother. I couldn't help but consider that at Calvin's age—seventeen—JP had likely been looking into colleges to attend. Life really doesn't pull any punches, does it?
Yesterday, after a frigid and rainy outdoor commencement—which included honorary degrees given to Bowdoin Alumnus and civil rights activist DeRay McKesson, infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, NASA astronaut and Mainer, Jessica Meir, and a posthumous award to civil rights activist and Freedom Rider, William Harbour—JP's family, friends, and few of his favorite professors and a dean began arriving. JP's uncle Russell had caught a last-minute red-eye from California to be here; it was so good to see him and Sheila again. JP's first cousin once removed, Carleton—a man who, like Russell, was lovingly described by Sheila as one of JP's dads—made the long drive up from North Carolina. JP's godbrother, Addy, came up from NYU. It was a splendid gathering of folks sharing amazing food, drink and cake in celebration of a special someone most beloved.
Calvin did well amid Saturday's hubbub despite not feeling his best self; I think he, like me, enjoys a good party. He also gave some uber-long hugs to Russell, Carelton, Marcus and Tricia, who were the most willing to risk their necks in his embrace. I made a handful of new friends who I hope will come back and visit us in the future.
Today, the house has been quiet. The rain, which retreated after the graduation ceremony, has returned as a lingering drizzle. The sky is white, the leaves in the garden are wet and shiny, and the mulch is damp and dark, all of which make the rhododendron and azalea blossoms glow. I'm missing my new friends and thinking about our conversations and the fun we had together. Calvin is upstairs chilling out with his baby toys and playing with his bare toes. He has no worries about studies or college, commencement or the challenges of new beginnings or tomorrow. All he and we have are singular moments. And this weekend there have been some good ones.
|Photo by Andrea Tyree|