A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, June 19, 2006


I have only one sister, and she lives pretty far away. So I'm lucky to have a couple of cousins right in town who are like sisters to me.

Geraldine and I lived together for a time as children when our parents shared a huge house in Aldenville, Massachusetts. Leslie and I upstairs; four cousins downstairs; a garden; an orchard; a spooky cellar; mazes of rooms filled with taxidermy. It was the stuff of idyllic memories.

When Geri was orphaned and horribly injured in a car crash at sixteen, my mother became like a mother to her. Geri lived with us for a time once again, attending nursing school and then working at Mercy Hospital.

She married and moved away, and I didn't see much of her for years. About fifteen years ago, broke and divorced, she was back. She met a bass player in a band, and it was mutual love at first sight. Paul and Geri have been together since. Poor, but happy as pigs in shit, as my mother would say. To see them together, you'd think they were teenagers going steady. He treats her with a mixture of tenderness and humor that spells Love with a capital "L."

I was sitting next to them yesterday at the Polka Dinner, and the conversation turned to biker bars. Paul talked about the joint he'd played out at over the weekend, and I described the sleazy roadhouse I'd been frequenting. No bikers there, so I threw in the drag racing chick and the guy with the eyepatch for effect.

"Isn't it funny," my sweet cousin remarked, "how, when people have disabilities, that's what's always used to describe them. I mean, I know that's the first thing people notice about me. Not that I mind."

That's when I remembered that she wore an eyepatch. I had been looking right at her as we talked, and I hadn't even seen it. That's the way it is with people you love.