Thinking about what “We are all related” means at a level I’ve not been.
It’s disturbing. As it must be.

Certainly anyone of conscience has considered what that, or The Golden Rule, or Beatitudes mean, what they’re trying to lead us towards. Like Wittgenstein’s fly in the bottle, we’re all trying to find our way out of a trap we willingly entered. Enticed perhaps by something sweet to us: fame, escape, wealth, esteem, love… or simply to survive.

It’s nearly impossible in the realities of the world we live in, to see those things as illusions. They are the driving forces that allow us to tolerate an inhumane society and our human limitations. They motivate us and give us hope, whether it’s of earthly or spiritual rewards. And we crave that. We pray, muddle, and force our way through, but we don’t generally experience it as that because for the most part, we’re given no alternatives, birth to death. Even those of us aware of other possibilities still find ourselves trapped in a world almost completely colonized. And no, I don’t mean only events since 1492. That mindset began long before and has always led to alienation, wars, and despair.

Don’t misunderstand me: there are belief systems and psychologies that name these things and can help one modify behaviors and to a limited extend, even outcomes. But we’re like addicts whereby even truths are worked into our inner beliefs and ultimately, denial.

So is there a way out of the bottle before death? I honestly don’t know. My own inner drives impel me towards a form of hope, and I’ll continue to meditate and repeat my mantra, and perform the rituals of my mother’s people in between worry, confusion, fear, and rage. I‘ll continue because I live, and without meaning, as Frankl understood, we are rudderless yet compulsive souls, lost to our fears. And we must consciously choose what our lives are to mean or lose the heart and soul of our humanity.

The older I get, the deeper is my respect, appreciation, admiration, and genuine awe for my Ancestors. Not only did they survive every conceivable and imagined horror, they thought about what their struggles meant and how best to bear suffering yet remain intact. They left hints, stories, and sometimes clear instructions, but most impressively, they showed through their own lives. They all retained humor, kindness, and goodness, harsh as their versions might sometimes have seemed to me as a child.

Outside of and beyond their circumstances, they were fully human, perhaps the highest compliment I have. They kept kinship beyond blood. I so aspire.

Photo by Anjana Mebane-Cruz

About Cake?

Ok, so some of you know it’s been a very, very rough year for me, and that I needed to get away from my house filled with the things and life of my marriage. It was unthinkable to leave and unbearable to stay, so after some coaxing and losing eighty pounds because I wasn’t eating, I went South at my son’s loving behest. And it’s been hard, but incredibly healing to be with his family and to see my granddaughter as she becomes a young lady. It’s only slightly less wrenching to be without my love in a place he never knew, but it gave me a sliver enough of space to continue.

You may also know that while the South has many things to recommend it, certain baked goods aren’t among them. So a coupla weeks ago I expressed my dismay and sorrow in being unable to find a tender slice of layer cake that wouldn’t send me into a diabetic coma. I’m not diabetic and hope to remain that way, but Southern desserts seem to equate love with sugar intensity. I knew this before coming, having spent every year of my childhood in North Carolina, and 17 years in Virginia, but I thought that by now all the tri-state retirees might have had some influence in just that one area. Sigh.

I also despaired the lack of duck, and finally resorted to procuring and roasting one whole and now subscribing to a farm share. (I still don’t understand how various Asian restaurants can exist without duck on the menu. I’m looking at you, Thai restauranteurs)

However, the cake remained a fantasy and I finally broke down, found my cake pans, put flour on my shopping list, and girded my loins in preparation for baking. I’m in the real South folks, and I am not a hot weather person, so I hope you appreciate the severity of the situation! I was also prepared to order from the yummy Chocolate Room, even though chocolate is not my cake of first choice, but Albermarle Bakery in Charlottesville has demurred in sending a Princess Cake “Care package”. (Look it up, youngsters) Desperate times, my dudes.

And then on Tuesday night at about 8, I was locking up the front and noticed a package outside. Brought the Goodbelly box in, noting that it wasn’t hot and had clearly been delivered recently. I knew immediately what it had to be because about a week earlier, m’new BFF and all around good guy, Chris S., had attempted to send me a cake. However, it was smashed flat as a pancake and had been outside for goddess knows how long, because the box and cake were as hot as if they’d been in an oven. Inedible.
But this cake was perfectly fine and even seemed happy to me. (Food vibes are real!) This gift was particularly thoughtful and kind because Chris and I didn’t know each other well in NY, despite his having been married to a wonderful friend of mine, and it’s only recently, via FB, that I’ve gotten to know him for himself. So I was quite touched by this. Plus I got cake that has now been child tested and granddaughter approved.

So I want to say that time after time, no matter how horrific things have been- and they have been and still are- wonderful people have come through for me, in a number of ways, including the monk forever now known as “the book packing Buddha”who took it upon himself to travel from Virginia to New York, packed up about 60 of 73 boxes of books in preparation for eventually putting my house on the market.
I know my main buds are always here for me, but I also have new friends- a term I don’t use lightly-some as yet unmet except through social media. And those are just a few, and don’t even touch on my unbelievable family: obviously my son and his incredible wife, but also her wonderful sister, and my cousin and niece- all showed up and continue to show up.

So this is a public “Thank Youz” to the folks who deserve medals and crowns for their big hearted love, including the friend who got me through those first few hours after discovering my husband’s body. I will forever be grateful for that. And thanks to everyone who gets that there’s not enough humility, kindness, or gratitude, ever, so we should make note of it and cherish it.
And I’m good for now. I have cake and will live to complain or weep again tomorrow or whenever people get on my nerves again or I miss Ray. (Probably within the hour, so enjoy this moment 😉)

PS: Don’t worry- far as I know, I’m not dying. Just grateful to have incarnated into so much love and kindness in a too often very cruel world.


Photo by Anjana Mebane-Cruz