Ok to finish up this little series, giving brief descriptive blurbs of my various "characters," here are friends and family of community members. That is, these are people who are neither staff nor students of the school, but have been part of my story nonetheless. The idea, once again, is that if you lose track of who I'm talking about you can always come back to this post and look them up by name.
Of course, these are just a small fraction of the friends and family I got to know--and there are a lot of people who have been associated with the school over the years whom I have never known, or have met only once and briefly. The people on this list are those whom I have mentioned before and am likely to mention again.
Alexis is Allen's youngest child. She was three when I arrived at school--much younger than her siblings. Allen sometimes refers to her as the best accident he ever had and proof that some surprises are good. He says this in her presence--when she was little it made her giggle. Now she says "Dad," and rolls her eyes fondly. I used to think she was his favorite, but he has told me recently that she is simply the one with whom he is most affectionate--he is just as close with the other two, but in very different ways.
She looks more like him that the other two do, with dark hair, a somewhat short stature, and a pretty, round face--her face is like both her parents.
Carly is my daughter. She's not quite two. I talk about her in the interludes sometimes. Yes, "Carly" is short for "Caroline" and no, she isn't named after my editor. I've been asked. So far she has very light brown curly hair and brown eyes and is just about average for her age in terms of size and shape. She is, in most respects, a normal toddler. That's not the way I see her, of course, but I am biased.
Cecilly is my little sister. She was still in high school most of the time I was a novice. She is short, round, and curvy--not fat, she would want me to point out--with ash-blonde hair. She came out as a lesbian a few years ago and is now engaged to a wonderful woman we all like a lot. That really explained some things--in high school she dated boys, but her choices were always a bit strange. First she only dated boys our parents liked and then she switched and only dated boys they hated, as a dry run for shocking them, I suppose.
Cuppa Joe is Security Joe's husband (there were several Joe's on campus, so most of them used nicknames). He lived on campus and usually came to breakfast and to other community events, but he was neither staff nor student and never had been. I believe he paid a small fee for room and board. He worked as a grocery manager at a supermarket in town, though he has since retired.
He is tall and thin and stoops a little, with a narrow face and a beaklike nose. His skin is dark, for a white man. He has always, since I've known him, worn a somewhat messy-looking mustache, the kind that looks like it might strain soup. When I first met him he was in his early sixties and his hair and most of his mustache were still black. Now both are nearly all-white.
My Dad, obviously. He's tall, like both me and my brother, but much broader, like an average build scaled up. He was in his forties when I started school. I don't know how well he comes off in the blog--he was worried about me when I was in school, for one thing, and has never quite understood what this community means to me (he has tried).
But my Dad has always been my champion. He's seldom known why I do what I do, but he's always been certain I can do it. Until I met Charlie, he was the smartest, most competent guy I knew, and my first teacher.
David is Allen's son. He was eleven when I joined the school. He's 26 now and has just gotten his master's degree in ecology or something similar. He's at least considering going for his PhD. He's one of those guys who seems to know everything within his field of expertise.--he's quiet, reserved, and very confident. He also plays rock-and-roll guitar. He is obviously Allen's relative and has similar coloration, but he is somewhat taller and slimmer, with a more rectangular face. Everyone who likes guys seems to have a crush on him, but as far as I know he has yet to have his first serious romance.
When I first knew him as a child, all of the above (except the guitar) was more or less already true. He was a skinny, dark-haired kid, somewhat moody, and already an accomplished birder.
June is my wife. I don't think I've used her name yet in the blog. I always just call her "my wife." Which sounds really sexist on my part, but I really didn't mean it that way. I've just been ambivalent about how much of my private life away from school--and thus the private lives of my family--I wanted to share. I wasn't sure she really needed to be in this blog. But apparently I can't stop talking about her. She is tall and blonde, with those long smooth curves that look like she started out as a short, curvy woman and stretched. I still sometimes turn into a doofus in her presence.
(I should point out that June is also the name of one of Charlie's nieces, but I seldom write about her).
I didn't know June back when I was a novice, of course, so I've only referred to her in the interludes. We met in grad school, during my Absence. She was smart enough to realize that marrying me would mean marrying into the school. I am lucky enough that she said yes to both.
My big brother, though I don't think
I've ever actually used his name in the blog. He is tall, like me, but
somewhat heavier-built--he's a normal-looking, tall, slim, muscular guy,
whereas I am skinny and bony and awkward. I always say he is the
handsome one in the family, and his wife says I am right and my wife
says I am wrong. His hair is darker than mine and he's usually
He has a wife and children, whom I have mentioned in the blog but not yet by name.
Julie is Allen's second child and older daughter. I do not know her well as an adult, as she went to college several states away and has not moved back. She was ten when I joined the school. She had blonde hair then and has light brown hair now.
Lo is Allen's wife. She has never worked at the school and never lived there, but she visited often and I've had occasion to spend a lot of time with the family. She also is a psychologist, though a somewhat more conventional one than Allen--she sees clients, mostly adults, in a home office.
She is on the tall side, for a woman, and often wears high heels. He hair is light brown, like her daughter's, but she dyes it blonde. She looks, in terms of how she dresses and how she does her hair, rather like someone from an '80's sit-com. Think Angela, of Who's the Boss. I've never asked her about it, but I think she found her "look" as a young woman and simply decided to stick with it. I'm not sure I'd say we are close--she doesn't talk about personal stuff with me, or with anyone, so far as I know (except, I assume, Allen). But she is a warm and unfailingly generous woman.
Mario was Charlie's older brother, but died some years ago. I do not know if they were close--Charlie never discussed his brother's death with me, except to say that it had happened. I met him on only a few occasions; he was an old man, with white hair and a slightly vague air. He was about the same height as Charlie but much more lightly built. They did not look much alike.
I have heard that Mario fought in World War II and that he lied about his age in order to do so. I have a hard time imagining him as a patriotic, adventurous teenager, but he must have been one. He had two sons, Robert and Paul, whom I have met, and numerous grandchildren who spent much of their childhoods running around campus.
I remember being shocked to find that this old man was Charlie's brother. Charlie had very quickly come to seem ageless to me.
Maria is Charlie's little sister. Her real first name is Theresa. Her middle name is Mary, and she was called Mary as a kid. But while Mario actively hid his Italian heritage (his accent used to be much stronger, I've heard) and Charlie mostly ignored his, the youngest and most fully assimilated child decided to explore and exaggerate her ethnic background. She studied Italian in school, learned to cook Italian food, and Italicized her name.
She is short, quite fat in a comfortable-looking way, and very curvy. He hair is long, grey, and curly. It looks like a fall of grey yarn. She has a pile of kids and grand kids who also spent much of their childhoods on campus.
My mother, of course. She has brown hair and an average height and build. My Mom and I have never connected much, but there's no complexity to that, no drama--it's not like anything is especially wrong between us. She took good care of me when I was little. She's become good friends with my wife. We're starting to talk more because I call her whenever there's something I can't figure out with my daughter.
His name is Kevin, though I haven't referred to him as anything but "Kit's husband" in the blog, and I've rarely actually heard him called by name in real life. He has a lot of nicknames--almost everyone calls him something different. He introduces himself as Kevin, and then when you start calling him something else, you know you're friends.
I did not initially want Kevin to exist. It's not like I expected, or even really wanted, to ever date Kit--part of the whole point of that crush was that she was obviously unattainable and therefore safe. I was 19 and she was in her forties. But my Mom has told me about how women of her generation would get upset when one of the Beatles, or Prince Charles, or some other eligible celebrity bachelor got married. It's not that they ever really thought it could have been them--but it was fun to pretend otherwise.
But he's actually a great guy. He's a professional musician and tours regionally with a folk rock group. He also has a jazz group he plays with sometimes and he and some of his friends sometimes play pagan gatherings and events as the openly Wiccan group Blue Pixies. He's short, of average build, with dark hair with some grey in it. He wears a neat pepper-and-salt beard.
Susan is Greg's sister. I have met her on only a few occasions and never for long. She is a very charming woman, but somewhat commandeering--once she starts talking with you, she seldom lets you leave. She and Greg are both mixed-race, children of a Japanese immigrant and an American white man, but unlike Greg, Susan looks mostly Japanese. She's slightly on the short side of average. She has a very pretty, glowing smile. By the time I met her, her long black hair has turned a soft grey.