chicago summer

August 3, 2017.

Summer night. Cool for Chicago. Not humid. Dry and warm. At our friend’s fortieth birthday party. Their new apartment in a three flat in Lincoln Square. The rooms inside have become to hot. Too close. With people and trapped air.

Outside. On the back porch of the building. Wooden steps and landings. The air is much cooler. Open. Night is not yet total. A faint glow in the sky but dark here in the back yard beneath trees. The alley. Our son chases after distant lightning bugs. Here. Then there. Existing for a second in one place. Reappearing somewhere else.

An artist. A friend of our now forty year old friend. Is patient. Walks with our son in the grass. Pointing out the lightning bugs. How they move. Moving from the alley towards the grass along the fence then into the clump of trees inside the yard. They walk from spot to spot. Our son runs. Still a whirl of energy.

We linger by the stairs. In the light of the porch.

Three hippies smoke herbs on the landing above us. An assortment of floral herbs grown in their yards and planters.

It is nine pm.

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dance party

June 7, 2017

As we eat dinner. He breaks out into uncontainable dance party. Now we’re gonna get funky funky funky! he yells. Then manically runs through half remembered segments of the Cha Cha SlideReverse reverse! Charlie Brown. Everybody clap your hands! Dancing from one corner of the front room to the other. Up on the couch. Up on the chair. Singing. And a non-stop run of words emanate from his mouth.

He breakdances. A few moves that he learned in his dance class at school. Drops to a pose. A peace sign with fingers. Lays on the floor and laughs. Then jumps up to begin again.

Early summer. Sunlight evening through windows. 95 degrees still. he in his Red Stars jersey from the game earlier. Us, we, his parents laugh from this unexpected turn of dinner events.

 

cities

Gotama depicts the city as a space that encourages human flourishing through the provision of economic opportunity (“prosperity”), security (“ramparts”), family life (“well populated”), and leisure (“parks, groves, ponds”). A city is a civic space where individuals can live in close proximity as “rational, sociable agents who are meant to collaborate in peace to their mutual benefit.”* Since the dharma has no place for either the providential designs of a Creator or a divinely ordained social hierarchy, the realization of the city’s potential lies squarely in the hands of human beings who enjoy equality. In this sense, the practice of the fourfold task becomes more than just a template for personal flourishing. When practiced with others who share one’s ultimate concerns, the four tasks become acts of solidarity working together as residents build a communal and social future based on an understanding of a naturalistic causality.”

– Stephen Batchelor. After Buddhism

*Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2007.

piano

Washing dishes. Water across plates. Food remnants in the trap. Water slow to drain.

He says he wants to play the piano. They walk through the kitchen from family to living room. Pass behind me. A sound. A felt sense.

Sponge and brush and soap. Tupperwares. Silverware. The cut on my thumb stinging in the water.

The notes from the piano. Expecting crash and bang. A cacophony of fingers slamming keys. I stop. Turn off the water. The notes are quiet. Searching. Loud, then soft. Legato continuous. He finds a melody. Repeats it. One hand accompanies the other. Exploring. Jumping octaves. Shifting dynamics. The sound of listening. He is paying attention to what he is doing.

I dry my hands with a towel. Lean against the wall. Hidden, so he doesn’t see me. So I don’t distract him. The song continues for a few minutes.

Joy. Emotion rushes through my head. My face. I smile. Enjoying this moment.

Him playing music.