Thursday, July 31, 2008

Coming and Going of Age

My daughter, Jo, turned 21 last week. After a blow-out 72 hours in Las Vegas with her older brother (my son Ceilee) where they were painting the town on the stroke of midnight, buying drinks together the first minute it was legal for her to do so, she came home to celebrate with her community family.

Her mother, Elke, came out from New York and we spent a long weekend together, highlighted by a Sunday sushi extravaganza where Jo cranked out 120 rolls—that's 720 pieces—in a wide assortment of vegetarian, tuna, salmon, and eel. It was an amazing party, and the best part for me was spending the day in the kitchen working with my talented daughter preparing food together for the appreciative hordes (the neighboring communities—Dancing Rabbit & Red Earth—joined us for the festivities).

Sitting around on the front porch in the Monday aftermath we conducted an informal poll of the 10 or so adults present, and not a one of us celebrated our 21st birthday with our parents. In fact, none of could even imagine it! But Jo did, and it was her idea. Though it was the first time she'd been home in 18 months, she wanted to mark her coming of age by returning to her roots. We roots were touched.

But there's more. Let me tell you about her drive home. She departed Sandhill Tuesday to return to Asheville NC and her job at a family-owned restaurant in Weaverville (a northern suburb). It's about an 800-mile drive: a real schlepp. However, wanting to be helpful, she agreed to leave at 4:30 am in order to drop her mother and step-brother off in Quincy IL, so they could catch the early morning choo-choo to Chicago.

She also had a Sandhill visitor on board: Marius, a German national who wanted a ride to Louisville. Since that's one of the ways to Asheville, she agreed. But first she swung down to St Louis for a lunch date with a long-time friend of the community whom she hadn't seen in years. And while in St Louis she called up an old friend of mine, Ella Peregrine, who lives in Louisville and made a spontaneous dinner date with her after dropping Marius off. Ella has been sick for the last several months and was so buoyed by the visit that she called me up to remark on my thoughtful daughter just as soon as Jo got back on the road post-dinner for the final six-hour leg of her driving marathon.

What can I say? Jo grew up in community. To my everlasting pride and joy, it shows.

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