Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jo!

Today is the silver anniversary of my daughter's nativity. Happy birthday, Jo!

A quarter century after the exhausting and joyous bonding that culminated in Jo's dramatic appearance via cesarean delivery on this day at St Mary's Hospital in Quincy IL, our primary biological family is now scattered, living in three different time zones. Jo is in Las Vegas, where she and her partner, Peter, are in the process of buying a house. Elke, Jo's mother, is in New York City, where she happily teaches ESL to immigrants and lives with long-time partner, Harry. Though I'm still in northeast Missouri, my wife (Ma'ikwe) is not Jo's mother. Despite this familial diaspora and reconfiguration of relationships, I'm confident today will be an occasion for all three of us principals to pause and reflect on the attainment of this milestone warmly (which process will be helped, of course, by the weather forecast).

I'm typing this as I chug across southern Iowa on the eastbound California Zephyr, inbound after a week of consulting in Colorado. While the night time temperatures at Grand Lake CO (nestled into the Rocky Mountains, just west of the Continental Divide at 8500 feet) reliably dipped into the 50s this past week—actually requiring a sheet to be comfortable—today I return to the flatlands and nights that may or may not get below 80. Ufda.

Interestingly, the 100-degree forecast that greets my homecoming this afternoon is an exact echo of the weather the day that Jo was born, which was equally brutal. I still recall the sharp contrast of the super-chilled hospital room and the wall of heat and humidity I experienced whenever I'd step outside. We're talking about a 35-degree swing (from south of 70 degrees in the maternity ward to north of 100 in the parking lot).

For all of that, today is a happy day. Though living separately, we three enjoy a number of positive parallels in our lives that are worthy of celebrating (though I prefer toasting with a cold adult beverage than with my body):

o  We are all in stable partnerships—even if not with each other.

o  We all have work we enjoy (though Jo would appreciate being promoted to Chipotle management a little quicker).

o  We all like seeing each other and make a consistent effort to do so despite the challenge presented by our non-trivial spatial separation.

o  We all enjoy reasonably good health.

o  We all have a major association with intentional community (totally perhaps 70 years among the three of us). Though only I currently reside in one, Elke and I met as fellow delegates to the Federation of Egalitarian Communities in 1985 (she from Twin Oaks and I from Sandhill), we were both living at Sandhill when Jo was born, and Jo enjoyed a city mouse/country mouse upbringing with time split between Elke at Ganas (a row-house urban community on Staten Island) and me at Sandhill (located in a rural county without a stoplight).

Last night, before boarding my train in Denver, I bought tickets for my next visit to Las Vegas, coming up right after Labor Day. While I'll call Jo when I get off the train to offer felicitations on the day, I'm already looking forward to my September visit, and the opportunity to express my paternal affection three-dimensionally—when I can hold her in my arms again, just like I did 25 years ago.

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