Yesterday my wife and I went to our daughter’s school for their Thanksgiving celebration. Two years ago we went to one at her boarding school in the woods, all beautiful organic home-grown foods and a couple hundred family members out on the massive lawn or under the oaks. The beautiful people. All these bright, super-achieving children and their casually wealthy parents. Chatting about the new horses. The hot new vacation spot.
I make a little fun of it, but it was beautiful.
I was so proud to have sent her there. Like a brave little Italian shoe-maker who has no english but goes to America and his child attends an American school and she speaks english so well and all of her friends are real Americans and although he is humbled for himself he is proud that she will have more than he can imagine in this new world.
This year the Thanksgiving celebration was at her continuation school. This is the last-gasp stop of the educational system for the flunkies and criminals and oddballs who cannot function in regular school. Among the parents, I recognized a guy I sent to prison for eight years. He was out in the parking lot, scraping the leads of his car battery with a long folding knife, the spider web tattoos on his forearms peaking out from beneath his flannel shirt. He is the boyfriend of my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother.
I saw a kid that I used to see on patrol when he was five and six. His dad was a crazy, paranoid, violent drug-dealer. They lived in a motor home he parked on various streets to avoid the 72 hour parking rule. The kid is sixteen now. He was very sweet to me. He remembered how I used to hassle them all the time, but he said it more like I used to come over and visit them a lot.
One of the teachers read a list of things the students had written they were thankful for. Some I remember:
I’m glad my parents are off drugs.
I’m grateful I finally have a place to live.
I am grateful for food stamps.
So, that happened.
What I am grateful for today:
My glorious, amazing, heart-breakingly beautiful wife and my glorious, amazing, heart-breakingly heart breaking child. That they exist, that I live out the days of my life in their orbits, is a humbling, awesome gift.
The strange and disfunctional larger family from which I struggle to escape and to which I cannot but return. Forget about the strong and weak electromagentic forces. These are the ties that bind.
Lucy, the world’s most stable and large-hearted English Bulldog.
My strong hands and back. What’s left of my sight and hearing. My body and its capacity to yet do what I ask.
My work, for what it provides me and for what it asks.
Our small house, which is bejewelled and glows with love and beauty. Living in this house is like living inside my own heart. Only better decorated, and not full of blood. Usually.
Friends. One of my weak points, being a good friend. But despite my failings, there are a handful of strange people that seem to love me anyway. You know who you are. Thank you for what you bring into my life, for it enriches me beyond measure.
Enemies. You, too, know who you are. I am grateful for what you are teaching me, although I do not enjoy the lessons. Thank you for making me a better man.
The capacity for awe. Without it, my life would be smaller than it should be.
Pain and yet more undiscovered pain. Without you, I would be as a child. I would understand nothing, nor would I appreciate anything at all.
Fragility. Loss. Despair. Longing. Sadness. Fear. Churlishness. Misanthropy. You are my brothers and sisters. Come, sit by me. Eat of my dinner. Drink of my wine. I will make for you a room in my home and your bed will be wide and ample.
The pleasures of food and drink. The new found pleasure of cooking, which has transformed my life.
The planet on which we all live, which is beautiful beyond all capacity to imagine.
The dome of the sky, the belly of the sea, the way wind moves through a wheat field.
For knowing that I will lose all of this and more.