Posted by: MC | July 3, 2011


Today is only a day.  It is Saturday, the 4th of July weekend, and like every other day it has filled with moments linking up into hours, holding people and motion – holding change.

This is how it went.  Sun rays angled across the morning sky.  I woke with two friends on my mind – two friends who are too close to death. Tom, a remarkable and kind educational leader, is here in Portland.  He has an infection in his blood.  Murry, the guitar playing biologist who is struggling to recover from cancer treatment is in Texas.  This week he contracted pneumonia.

I did all I could do in the dawn of this day; I sent my version of prayers, of blessings.

Soon I was dressed and sipping green tea.  The second cup I set on the floor and kicked by accident so that it spilled underneath the sofa.  For the first time in the ten years I have lived in this house, I pulled the sofa away from the wall to mop up the green tea and ten years of dust bunnies.  I found a pen and a red plastic frog.

I walked to the grocery store to get frozen peas.  Between the bread and beer I recognized my new friend Isaac.  We just met this week.  He showed me pictures of an art exhibit on his I-Phone.  Then I saw my old friend Daniel.  He has four kids, now almost grown.  He’s just finished a Masters in Social Work and is being a child therapist.

I walked home.  I watered the garden.  I watered the planters with their impatiens and coleus, their marigolds and geraniums.  A voice behind me called out, “Hey.” It was Dotty, a neighborhood friend.  She was passing on the sidewalk on the other side of the short boxwood hedge.  Dotty is a bartender.  She’s taking a vacation to Missoula, MT next week.

Time moved faster than I wanted it to and I ended up running to catch the #77 bus to Montgomery Park.  The bus was nearly empty.  The bus driver made random funny comments.  My favorite was, “That guy’s got two head rests.  I wonder which one he doesn’t trust.  Isn’t that kind of like wearing suspenders and a belt at the same time?”

I left the bus and walked toward the forest to my friend Dia’s home.  In her living room, she spoke of friends from Holland and of her friend who did die.  He died suddenly on the summer solstice.  He’d just finished talking with friends about looking after his dog while he and his sweetheart were on a short vacation.  One of them asked, in that off hand sort of way, “So what are ya doin’ for the rest of the day?”  “Oh, it’s just another day in paradise,” he said, smiling because he meant it.  Then his eyes rolled upward and he was dead.

With that and all of the other stories we had for one another, Dia and I walked toward downtown – toward the courthouse.  In front of the building two dozen young people – 25 years old or less – were standing with signs, a microphone and loud speakers.  They are all children of undocumented immigrants, themselves born outside the U.S.  They chanted, “Education not deportation!”  They told deeply moving stories of being separated from family members, of being denied access to school and services, of living in fear.  Today they were stepping out of their fear as activists for the Dream Act, the proposed federal law under which “qualifying undocumented youth would be eligible for a 6 year long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.”

At the rally, Aztec dancers passed out flyers announcing a fund raiser to support their art.  Rebecca Shine, the film maker and purveyor of creative social service told me and Dia about a new organization – the Student Alliance Project, “a youth-led collaboration to cultivate multicultural young leaders.”  Amanda Fritz, a Portland city commissioner, listened to the Dream Act activists, she talked with Rebecca Shine.

Dia left to have dinner with her friends from Holland.  I walked toward the river and this year’s Blues Festival.  At a bus stop near the Federal Building, I saw Art, another old friend.  He was just back from a week of silence in the woods.  His eyes were clear.  He was quiet, even in the middle of downtown on the first sunny Saturday of summer.

I left Art and met my friend Theo.  We walked onto the Hawthorne Bridge and looked down on the festival.  There were thousands of people.  There were two sound stages with bands playing loud and strong.  Just beyond the noise and celebration the deep blue of the river was interrupted only with scattered triangles of the sun’s reflected light.

Theo and I crossed the bridge.  His son is fine – got a promotion, is still having success with his photographic business on the side.  He asked about my daughter.  She’s fine.  She’s amazing – has an editorial sense like no other.  Theo drove me home.

Now the sun is setting. The sky between the buildings to the north and east of here is coral colored beneath a cornflower blue cloud layer.  Above that the day’s stretch of blue is fading to yellow.  Slowly, in the way of summer days, this display will give way to night.

Such was the course of a day.  All of it linked like breathing or heart beats.  Unrelated and related at the very same time.  The progression, seemingly random, could have happened no other way; each moment depending on the former and the next for its place and meaning – each person that way, too.  That’s how it’s feeling to me today – in this weekend of independence. Independence that relies for its integrity on the quiet contagion of interdependence that keeps this whole living thing going.


  1. Thanks, Mary–that is how so many days feel to me, also. Like when we learned square dancing as kids and it came time to “weave the ring” where you go past each person in our circle and onto the next. Very nice description of our connections.

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