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.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Independence Day

As a pacifist and a vegetarian, I'm a bit lukewarm about holidays that commemorate wars with backyard cookouts. Not that I boycott them, but I'm not the first person you'd think of to host. I prefer to take responsibility for the holidays other people ignore....the last big party I threw was for Saturnalia.

That said, I'm always glad to get an invite to any kind of social event. I happily skewered some veggies and baked a cheesecake as my contribution to a little get-together hosted by my "boss," Dan Wyman, for the Fourth of July.

Dan is the father of six-year-old twins, and I was the only one present who didn't have one or two grade-schoolers. I'd forgotten how little the conversation strays from school, camp, and the behavior of juveniles when you're parent of a little kid. As a matter of fact, I was shocked at how much I had forgotten about the day-to-day life of full-time moms and dads.

It was like looking through the wrong end of a telescope, observing these heedless, trampoline-jumping, gingersnap-eating youngsters and their vigilant parents. "Aaron, what do you say to Sally? You hurt her feelings when she tried to tell you a story and you didn't listen." "No, I said you could have a Fresca after your hot dog. First finish your hot dog." "All right, everybody! No crawling under the trampoline! Somebody could get hurt!"

Most of the years during which my three children were growing up, we had a large inground pool, and all summer long I played lifeguard to them and to many of their friends. I was strict: if I even so much as ran in the kitchen to grab the pitcher of lemonade, everyone had to be out of the water. No one was going to drown on my watch. If I had a nickel for every time I wondered if they would grow to adulthood unscathed, I'd be typing this from my villa in Provence.

Dan's party broke up at dusk, so everyone could head downtown to watch the fireworks. For me, that meant driving home, grabbing the dog, and strolling a few blocks to the bridge. MassMutual had donated $40,000 for the usual impressive display put on by the first family of fireworks, the Gruccis. I found a nice grassy spot for myself and Taz, but when a half-dozen youngsters wouldn't stop trying to instigate the dog, I remembered that I don't even like fireworks all that much, and strolled back home.

The boys were out, and my cavernous Victorian was dark and quiet. I made a cup of tea, pulled out a book, and listened to the occasional illegal Roman candle going off in the parking lot around the corner. I guess you could say I was celebrating my own independence. And I never even had to fight a war.