To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Mastery Year 2: Part 2: Post 1: Ostar

Note: I posted about Sean's impending birth on March 6th, but he was actually born March 1st. Since the equinox was on the 20th (I'm posting one day early), just like this year, that means he was almost three weeks old at Ostar, a difference that matters at that age. -D.

Steve's baby is entirely cute. You'd think that wouldn't need saying, given that human babies essentially define cuteness, but it's hard not to. The reason I can speak authoritatively on Baby Sean is that I met him today. He was born at the beginning of the month after THREE DAYS of labor, and his first day out among people was today, at Ostar.

It was Steve's first day back, too. He and Sarah, his wife, and the baby all arrived this morning, right at the end of breakfast. The whole place went silent for announcements right as they walked in, and Steve and Sarah looked pretty confused for a few seconds, before they figured out why everybody had stopped talking. When the head waiter asked for announcements, Steve raised his hand.

"It's a boy," he said. "His name is Sean." And everyone went wild, clapping and cheering.

We'd known that, though. Security Joe didn't stay the whole time, but he kept visiting, as did Sarah's family, during the labor, and he told us about the birth. But we couldn't not cheer.

"Anyone else?" asked the head-waiter. We all laughed.

"You rather stole my thunder," complained Charlie, standing up. "Anyone up for an egg-hunt?"

On Ostar, as you may remember, we hold the egg hunt, which involves looking for real, active nests (not necessarily eggs) and taking photos of them. We hunt in teams of two, and whichever team takes the best pictures of the most nests wins. There's a prize, usually some kind of serious, egg-themed art. I've been on the winning team twice, not that I'm all that better than the other naturalists on campus, but the first time I won because I got a head-start finding nests (at Charlie's suggestion) and also deliberately partnered with an excellent photographer. The second time I got lucky in that one of the other two really good teams got points deducted and the other had a malfunctioning camera.

This time, I wasn't going to compete at all, because I helped organize the hunt. Charlie had me do all the preparation (making sure we had enough working cameras, and so forth) as well as helping judge the pictures. He still worked as the public face of the contest, though, making the announcement, handing out cameras, and presenting the slide show of pictures and the prizes afterwards. He didn't give me any credit. When I helped judge before, in my fourth year as a novice, he didn't give me credit, either, and I wondered why. I thought maybe it was to keep me from standing out among the other students in a negative way, like a teacher's pet, or something. Now, I don't wonder. I know.

Charlie uses his workshops and activities to let yearlings get to know him. All the masters need to do something like that, so that students can make informed decisions about whom to approach for the kinds of conversations that eventually lead to choosing masters in the various areas. With Charlie, it's even more important that he show himself off, because he's not really comfortable with people he doesn't know and tends to growl at people.

One of the reasons Charlie heads up the egg hunt is so that yearlings will think "oh, year, Charlie's the one with the egg hunt." I don't need advertising, therefore I didn't get credit. Neither do the half-dozen other spies he sends out in secret to make sure nobody harasses the wildlife in the course of taking pictures. You get points deducted for that, and the secret spies make it seem like Charlie has eyes and ears everywhere.

But when Steve returned, Charlie pulled me aside and asked me to partner with Steve. As you may recall, he is now Steve's master, but has delegated most of Steve's instruction to me. I'm learning how to be someone's master, and Steve is learning how to not be angry all the time. We've had a few conversations, over the past three weeks, about what that's going to mean and how it's going to work, and I think I understand.

I approached Steve and offered my services as egg-hunt partner.

"We're not going to win, though," I warned him. "I'm judging, so it would look pretty bad if I won."
"That's ok," said Steve, "I wasn't going to win, anyway."

And it's true, he wasn't. He's not a bad photographer, and he likes the out-of-doors, but he knows almost nothing about it. He can't tell a spruce from a pine, and can't see a drey if he's looking right at it. He's a smart man, and there's nothing wrong with his eyes, natural history just isn't a priority for him. And that's ok, really.

So, we spent the morning with me teaching him how to notice things. Like, we'd see a bird and I'd ask him what he thought it was doing and why, and we'd watch it for a while. Sometimes you can find nests by watching birds, since they act certain ways when they have nests or are near their nests. Or I'd coach him through spotting old nests, which are useless for the contest but easier to spot this time of year, because there's more of them and because the leaves they were originally hidden behind are off the trees at the moment. We only got two pictures, neither of them firsts, but we got no points deducted and he said he had a great time. It was fun.

Sarah and Sean spent most of the morning sitting on the Mansion porch, wrapped in a blanket, enjoying the sunshine with Charlie, who loves babies. A lot of people took pictures of them.

There's no rule that the nests have to belong to birds, after all. Insect egg masses and boxes of kittens have been legitimate entries, and Steve and I appear to have been the only people who didn't think to include a picture of the human baby in the nest of his mother's arms. Charlie let those pictures stand and he and I awarded points as appropriate. Some of the pictures got a lot of extra points for artistic merit. Some we removed from the slide show, at Sarah's request, because they depicted her bare, nursing breast, or because the people taking the picture hadn't said hi to her first or asked her permission. We deducted points from those pictures, as per the rules of the contest, for "annoying the wildlife."

"I never thought I'd like being treated like an animal," commented Sarah, "but from Charlie it's a definite mark of respect."

Monday, March 12, 2018

Mastery Year 2: First Interlude

Hi, all, Daniel-of 2018, here.

I don't have much to say. It was curious writing last week's post on the birth of Steve and Sarah's child, since so my of my reaction to those events had to do with my awareness of not being a father yet. The idea of being on deck, that Steve was the first of us to have a child but that the rest of us would follow. And now, of course, I do have a child, so writing that post just really reminded me of how much my life has changed.

I never had that feeling about the men I went to high school with, or about the men I went to grad school with--that sense of there being an us, a kind of generation or cohort, going through milestones together. I'm not sure why. I mean, I know how, I know the mechanics of the cohesion and its absence. My high school buddies and I drifted apart as we started separate careers and partnered up--I'm still friends with most of them, but barely. I see them on Facebook. We don't talk much except to say how we should talk more. And my grad school friends were never close (except, obviously, June), and most of them were married, or otherwise in committed partnerships, when we met. So there wasn't this before-and-after feeling.

Ollie, Steve, and I were single together. Now we all have families. Andy and Eddie and Rick were part of our group, too, and still are, but haven't taken the plunge. Eddie is still in love with every woman he meets, Andy does not seem to date, and still Rick. But the sense of brotherhood holds.

What I don't know if why moving on from adolescence broke up my adolescent social group, or why I never developed that sense of brotherhood with my friends in grad school, even the ones who were single with me.

I don't mean to make it sound like I'm not friends with women. You know I am friends with women. It's not even that I'm closer to my male friends. Maybe it's that I identify with men more. Or something. I've never had this sense of camaraderie in the face of milestones with the women.

How did I get on this topic?

I have only one "programming note," as it were. Steve's wife's name is Sarah, and she's going to become an important "character" this year, which presents a problem because, of course, Sarah the farm manager also remains a character. We never gave them separate nick-names or anything like that. Usually it was clear from context which was which, and if someone wasn't sure they could ask. But you can't ask, or at least I'd be a pretty sorry writer if I made you post comments to the blog in order to find out who I'm talking about. If I were writing all of this as pure fiction, I wouldn't run into this mess because I could give everybody unique, un-mix-up-able names, like you're supposed to do in fiction, but the fact of the matter is, in the real world you end up with a repetition of names.

So I'm just going to have to use last names more often than we actually did. Sarah Grimm was the farm manager and Sarah Kelly is Steve's wife. They get along fairly well, incidentally.

-best, D

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Mastery Year 2: Part 1: Post 5: Birth

Note; since I skipped last week, you get two poss this week.-D.

When you get used to a place, anything out of the ordinary, out of place, you notice.

That's why, when someone opened the main door of my dorm and ran down the hallway in the middle of the night, I was awake-and anxious--even before I heard Steve Bees cry "HOLY SHIT!!"

He has the room next to mine this year.

His voice woke June and we both got up, put on pants, and poked our heads out the door. Steve's room light was on and spilling out the half-open door into the hallway. We could hear him moving around in there frantically. Other heads started poking out doors.

"Steve? Are you ok?" I asked. No answer.
"He probably got 'the call,'" suggested June. "His wife's in labor."
"Yes, but who ran down the hall?"

The hall door opened again and Cuppa Joe hurried in, fully dressed. Cuppa Joe, you may recall, is the husband of Security Joe, the now-retired campus security chief. Steve emerged from his room, also fully dressed and carrying a full knapsack, followed by Security Joe in pajamas and a red robe, who must have been the hall-runner.

"Hey, there, Dad," Cuppa Joe greeted Steve. "You ready?"
"I'm your driver."
"I'm driving."
"No, friends don't let friends drive anxious at three AM. Gimme the keys."
"What? No."
"Come on, you want your wife to be all alone in the back seat? I'm already dressed. Gimme the keys."
"Oh, alright."

Steve handed over the keys and took off down the hall without acknowledging the small crowd that had collected around his door. Cuppa Joe followed, after a goodbye kiss from his mate.

"Call me," Security Joe said, and patted the other Joe's chest, fondly. They look odd, next to each other, and not because they're both men. It's because Security Joe is so little, not only short but petite, under a layer of aging, working-class muscle. His personality isn't little. Even half-asleep and in a bathrobe, Joe looks like an old cop from central casting, so you don't see his size until he stands next to another man and you realize he's eight to ten inches shorter than you'd expect. Cuppa Joe is as tall as I am, so the effect is even more startling. Plus, I don't usually see masters kiss.

Joe leaned in the doorway watching his receding mate, wearing an odd, almost nostalgic expression. Some of the assembled went back to bed, but Ollie, Eddie, June and I, and True, Nutmeg, and two yearlings, Mason and Jay, formed a cluster around Joe and the doorway.

"Well, that does it for sleep for us," said Eddie, quite brightly, speaking for all of us.
"There's no reason for you to stay up," said Joe. "They'll probably sleep at the hospital. She's not very far along, and first labors usually take a long time."
"Why did you come down?" asked Nutmeg. "Steve has a phone."
"He gave his phone to me at night so extraneous calls wouldn't wake the rest of you up. He wasn't sure 'vibrate' would wake him. I'm used to being on call, so I volunteered."
"And Coffee Joe volunteered as driver?"
"Yeah. When we had Rob, he drove about ninety miles an hour until I threatened to write him a speeding ticket myself in between contractions. We figured we'd lessen temptation for Steve."
"I imagine all new fathers are like that," said Ollie. "You're nervous and you want to be useful."

He and I made eye contact. I think we both had a sense of being the ones on deck, now.

"Not all fathers," pointed out Joe. "I was a little too busy to pace the hospital waiting room at the time."
"Do you miss it?" asked June. I suppose she meant whatever shred of femininity Joe had once had. It's not the sort of question you're supposed to ask in general, and Joe in particular is notably private. He gave her a look but elected to answer anyway.
"Sometimes," he admitted. "But not enough."
And he bid us goodnight with a courteous little nod and returned upstairs.

"It's strange, Steve having to go away to have his baby," said Nutmeg. "Like there ought to be some special School way of doing it. There is for everything else."
"I expect we'll do a welcoming ritual or a naming ceremony for the child afterwards," Eddie assured her.
"It seems...cold," said True."She ought to come here, or they should both stay home. "You wouldn't have a bunch of doctors and nurses and equipment around at the beginning of a pregnancy, why have them at the end? Birth is a sacred, natural process."
There were nods of agreement all around. This is one of the ideas that pretty much everyone around here learns to take for granted.
"You know what's also natural?" said Ollie, who doesn't like to take anything for granted. "Uterine rupture."

And on that rather depressing note, we turned out the light in Steve's room, shut his door, and went back to bed.

So, it seems as though my work as Steve's teacher is going to be delayed. The plan is for him to stay with his wife at home for some weeks, and then they'll decide whether to move the family to campus or if Steve should go back to splitting his time, as Ollie does. Either way, I don't think Steve will be back here until after Ostar.

We did talk that night, after class, about what my responsibilities will be. Charlie will be Steve's master, not Greg, and Charlie will delegate most of the day-to-day responsibility to me, though I'll work under his close supervision and with his direction and support. Partly I'll be repeating what Charlie taught me, just as I repeated what I learned in grad school to Charlie last year--though Charlie says it probably won't be necessary to push Steve so much into the science. He's not, temperamentally speaking, a naturalist. Rather, the point will be get him into the habit of close observation and awareness. And the point will be to teach me how to be somebody's master, though why I'm getting this intervention and no one else, to my knowledge, is, is beyond me. Maybe they think I need extra training, or something? I've never claimed to really know what I'm doing.

But it's obvious to me that all of this is about some kind of spiritual practice. For some reason, Greg and Charlie decided that neither the Christ nor the Buddha is Steve's best "way in" right now, which is why the meditation teacher tossed Quaker Steve over to Charlie for healing. And being a naturalist is a spiritual practice for Charlie. But is it for me? Ostensibly it must be, because Charlie was my spirit master and I graduated, but if so, I don't know what my spirituality consists of. Going outside doesn't feel especially religious to me. I don't have all kinds of fancy ideas about energy and animism, or whatever else, supporting the practice. Does Charlie? I don't know. But aren't I supposed to at least understand a topic before I teach it? Don't I have to have something to give it away?

Although I suppose there is something else that gets given when the person giving didn't have it before: birth.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mastery Year 2: Part 1: Post 4: Assignments


Sorry for not posting last week. Things got very busy very quickly. We're all ok here, though. The following post is therefore set in the last week of February. -D.

We're getting into the swing of the year, now. The new yearlings have been here over three weeks and are losing that look of deer-in-the-headlights confusion. Most of them, in fact, seem to think they know how things work around here--they don't, of course, but Allen says their assumptions comfort them emotionally and also make it easier to work magic on them. So he's pleased.

This time of year, the novices go to workshops and talks and things, rather than classes--which is good for those of us who teach workshops and things but not classes, because we get a lot more practice and a lot more people show up. The yearlings don't care that I'm only a candidate, so that helps, too. They treat me like a master...It's like when I was a site caretaker, and the hikers I talked to treated me like an expert, really listened to me--and I kind of did a double-take at myself and realized hey, I guess I am one. I'm not a master yet, but I'm getting closer.

Last year at this time I couldn't teach much because I was still figuring out what it meant to be a candidate and what I was going to do, now that I was back. I was trying to figure out what I could teach, so I wasn't on the schedule. Now I am.

Steve is in that position, now. He knows how this place works--for real--but he doesn't know how he fits in here. He's new in a new way.

He's also seemed kind of stressed, kind of down. I always used to see him smiling, to the point that I'm not sure I knew what he looked like without a smile--I couldn't picture him well. Now, when he thinks no one is watching him, the smile fades. He frowns and fidgets and looks tense. I'd thought it was just the disorientation of being a new candidate. It can be hard to come back home and then realize you don't know where you fit in. Then I thought it was the stress of being away from his pregnant wife. But it turns out, it's more than that.

We got together the other day, the Candidate's Group, to introduce ourselves to each other--our first meeting of our class, Candidates' Seminar. All the Six were present, too, just like they were last year for our first meeting (which I think came a little earlier in the semester). I guess they want to get a sense of us. We went around the circle and introduced ourselves and what we're studying, again just like last year. Steve went next to last, and something about the way he spoke piqued Allen's attention. The psychologist started asking questions.

Charlie, who had been examining his thumb--he often appears preoccupied when he's actually listening intently--looked over at Allen and smiled slightly, as though he were pleased Allen had decided to intervene. He and Steve are friends of a sort, and I suspect he's noticed Steve not smiling so much. He notices a lot of things. I looked over at Greg, Steve's primary master from his novitiate, and saw him watching Steve intently, nearly expressionless. When Steve started to get defensive under Allen's questioning, Greg held up his hand. Allen stopped

"I believe we should go on with the introductions,"  Greg said mildly. "Steve, will you please stay after?"

I saw Steve swallow, as though he thought he was in trouble. Which is silly. We don't have that kind of trouble here, by and large, and Steve had done nothing to earn anyone's criticism anyway. But I guess when a teacher asks you to stay after class, there's a reaction that goes with that.

Later, after the class was over and we were all putting away chairs and things, I approached Steve Bees.

"Yer in trou-bull!" I taunted him. He smiled, a little embarrassed. "Wha'd ya do, get a girl pregnant or something?"
"Aw, man, they'll put my ass on the next bus home," he answered, relaxing a little. "She's totally worth it, though. She's crazy about me. Begs for it."
"Yeah, is she....Ok, how do normal guys talk about women?" I couldn't keep the act up.
"I haven't a clue. I can't remember being normal."
"Were you ever?"
"I suppose not," he admitted. He leaned on the chair I'd interrupted him in the act of folding. "Here, I think they'd kick you out for not getting laid. On the grounds of not being sufficiently appreciative of women, or something."
I laughed.
"Well, that would explain Eddie....No, wait, that can't be right, I was a virgin until the November before I graduated."
"You were? But I thought....Well, it's a good thing you got it taken care of, or they would have made you stay another year."
"You're probably right," I admitted,wondering how we'd gotten into this conversation. "I really ought to send Joanna a card or something."
"You take that up with June. Listen, will you come with me?"
"What? Where?"
"To talk to the masters."
"You're not in trouble, Steve."
"I know. And I don't care. I'm nervous. Come with me."
We put away our chairs--everyone else had already left, and drifted over to where Greg and Charlie were waiting for us. Allen was nowhere in sight.

We sat down on the couch near the fireplace. Greg and Charlie each sat in well-stuffed chairs. Charlie had served himself a mug of something hot from a cauldron over the fire.

"Allen saw no reason to confront you with a whole panel of us," Greg explained, with typical dry formality. He then looked at me.

"He's my defense counsel," explained Steve, only half joking.

"I would have thought you qualified to defend yourself," said Greg.

"Not against us," said Charlie. "We're scary." And he took a sip of his drink and grimaced. Still too hot.

"So," said Greg. "Tell me about it."

I could tell from Steve's expression that this was the question he'd been expecting, and he did not want to answer it. But there is something about Greg that feels safe. I've never been sure what it is. He's not friendly--he's too shy for that--but when you need to say something, you can tell him anything. Steve told him all about his Absence, when he had not only gone to law school, gotten a job, and gotten married, he had also gotten deeply involved in civil rights work, mostly racial justice. And he'd seen things.

Apparently, racism is really bad. This is going to sound very strange to some of you, but I hadn't known that. I mean, I knew that racism in the abstract is terrible, but I'd thought that most of it had been sorted out already. It wasn't. He told a couple of stories that sounded like something from sixty years ago and weren't. Police corruption, judicial bias, institutional bias, public indifference, and people dying of all of it. And very little that a small, under-funded, idealistic law firm could do. And as he spoke, Steve clearly got more and more disturbed, as the stress that had been wearing at him in secret surfaced and broke out.

"Greg, you taught me how to care," he said at last, "Maybe you should teach me to care a little less."

"I cannot do that," said Greg. "And I won't try."

"I'd be more effective, though. I don't have time to sit around having feelings." The way he said it, emotions sounded like an indulgence of the self-centered.

"It's natural to be sad, though," I pointed out, "Given the things you're describing."

Steve had been pinching the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed, but he looked up at me suddenly.

"Sad? No, I'm not sad, not particularly. I'm angry. I get home and I can't leave my work behind. I can't be there for my wife....Why do you think I'm living here and she's not? I go to court, and it's all I can do not to punch certain people. I am such a mess."

"And yet you're doing well at work," commented Charlie.
"Oh, I am," agreed Steve. "So far."

"When you were a novice," said Greg, "I was your primary master. You came back to work with me, did you not?"

"Yes, I did," said Steve. "If anyone can teach me peace and acceptance, it's you."
"I don't think I can help you this time, though."
"No.Charlie can."

We all looked at him.

"Daniel," said Charlie, "Do you remember why Jane Goodall said she stays calm and energized on the lecture circuit?"
He was referring to a specific book he asked me to read, years earlier, and a passage of that book that he'd underlined, and to which he'd added several marginal notes. So I had had a hint that it was worth remembering. I should say that Goodall was lecturing on human rights and animal abuse, as well as more obvious conservation subjects. The analogy to Steve's work wasn't unfounded.

"She said she'd learned to carry the forest inside her."

"Good. Do you remember everything I taught you?"
"No, just most of it." I thought he was praising me for my memory, and I didn't want to seem too over-the-top. I actually try to remember everything from him, including everything in those books he drew my attention to. I think I do a pretty good job.
"Good," he said. "Because now you're going to teach it to Steve."

And they all looked at me.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Mastery Year 2: Part 1: Post 3: Yes

"So, are you a master, or a candidate?" asked Caryn at breakfast, of June. Caryn is one of the new yearlings. She knows novices don't wear brown, but not much else.
"Neither," said June, and took a bite of a bagel.

We don't normally have bagels here, but one of the second-years has an off-campus job at a bagel place in town brought in a large quantity of day-olds. Caryn, the yearling, looked at my wife in confusion.

"What are you?"
"What do I look like?"
"If this is a trick question, I don't get it."
"I win."
"June, be nice," I said. She smiled at me, briefly.

"I'm an ally. I've graduated, and now I've come back to help, just not as a candidate."

Come back to help and to live with your husband, I thought, while I piled pieces of a spinach omelette on a bagel. She doesn't have to help, Coffee Joe doesn't, particularly, she could just live with me, but that's her. She's as involved as any candidate is.

"Why do you do that?" asked Cristin, another yearling. "Masters, too, you get such a kick out of not giving us straight answers."
"We do give straight answers," I said. "The problem is your questions are crooked."
"We're brain-washing you, is what we're doing," said June with a straight face.
"I can't tell if you're joking," Caryn said.
"If she's not smiling, she's joking," I said.
"Also, when I am smiling," added June.
"Here's a hint," offered Ollie, "I think you need to know is not whether she's joking, but whether she's lying."

Afterwards, on our way out of the Dining Hall, June took my arm and leaned against my shoulder for a moment as we walked. I looked down at her and saw that she was smiling.

"You like messing with yearlings, don't you?" I said.
"I like messing with everybody," she answered. "But yearlings, they all seem so muddled and so clueless."
"As I recall, I didn't just seem muddled and clueless, I was muddled and clueless."
"I wasn't entirely joking about the brain-washing," she admitted.
"I know."
"It's not brain-washing, but it is...brain adjustment?"
"It's transformation. They agree to it and they ask for it, for the crooked questions they ask to be straightened by straight answers."
"From other students."
"Sometimes, yes."
"You did it for me."
"Yes," I acknowledged.
"And you let others do it for me."
"And I gave you such a hard time for it."
"I love you, Daniel. Did you know that?"

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Mastery Year 2: Part I: Post 2: Reacquaintance

The beginning of a new year is always an interesting time, here. There are new people to meet, and the various versions of astonishment and confusion to watch—and the days after Brigid always remind me of my own first days, and also every subsequent year of being thus reminded, an ever-complexifying echo chamber of self-reflection.

Have I really been part of this community for eight years, now?

June has moved into my room. We discussed the possibility of my moving into hers, but the reality is I don’t just live in a room. I also live in, and belong to, a dorm, and I don’t belong to her dorm. Dorm membership isn’t a huge part of the program here, but it is part of it, and since I’m still a student and she’s not, it makes sense for me to stay in my dorm. It does feel strange to have a room-mate all of a sudden.

She has also just returned from a few days at her parents’ house. Usually, parents come pick up graduating students at the reception the morning after graduation, and while June isn’t leaving, her home is with me, we all thought it was better for her to leave campus as a student before returning as an ally, plus she hadn’t spent a lot of time with her parents in a while.

There are forty-one new yearlings, now, a big class. I haven’t really spoken to any of them yet, at least not in a more than incidental way. I did have dinner with Steve Bees last week, while June was away, to welcome him back. We’re in the same dorm, but we took our plates downstairs to eat at the little table by the window next to the library. From there we could look out on a world white with snow.

So, how was the real world?” I asked, joking.
You know,” he told me, “this world feels like the real one. The’s like I don’t quite believe in it anymore.”

I told him I knew exactly what he meant.

So, what did you do this past year?” he asked. We had talked a few times by phone or email during our Absence, but we hadn’t ever really caught up, and of course after I came back we could have no contact at all.
Same-old, same-old,” I replied, casually. “I taught some classes, went hiking a lot, got married….”

As intended, my deadpan delivery made him come very near to spitting his drink across the table.

Oh, wow!” he exclaimed, when he had swallowed. “Who’s the lucky lady?”

So, I told him all about June and about our year together and our plans going forward.

What about you?” I asked.
I passed the bar exam, got a job, and, um….” he showed me the wedding ring on his finger.
Congratulations!” I told him. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there.”
Ollie’s married, too. When I got engaged, I thought I’d be the first, but everybody’s getting hitched.”
Sorry to steal your thunder, man,” Steve offered, “but that’s not the half of it. We’re expecting.”
No kidding! When?”
Any day, now.”
Then what are you doing here?”
Steve laughed.
We don’t live that far away. When I get the call, I’ll meet her at the hospital.” He showed me his cell phone. “Anyway, I was there at the beginning of the pregnancy, so it’s probably ok if I’m not there at the end, too, right?”

My turn to laugh. The joke bordered on the ribald in a way I didn’t remember Steve doing much, but I suppose four years (and law school and marriage and impending fatherhood) might change a person. Come to think of it, though, something else about Steve seems different, too. I don’t remember him joking very much, but he seemed always to be smiling. took me a while to put my finger on it, but the difference is that he doesn’t smile if he doesn’t have a clear, obvious reason.

He seems tired, too.

Monday, February 12, 2018


I'll post tomorrow. Today I'm having computer problems.