My car overheated two days ago, and I am feeding it water like an insatiable camel to keep it chugging until I can take it to the mechanic when he opens on Monday. As I drive, I send up another prayer (a surprisingly frequent occurrence lately) asking for help. I need work. I need a place to live after Sunday. I need to know what is wrong with my car and find the money to fix it. I need friends in this place where it seems my lack of funds will force me to stay whether I want to or not.
I park in front of Leslie's house, excited to meet this friend-of-a-friend from back home, a gift via Facebook. I am grateful for the invitation to Leslie's friend's Thanksgiving dinner, despite my status as a complete stranger. I walk up to the whimsically-decorated house with signs, stickers, and flags about love, gratitude, and faith, and have a good feeling about this woman. I ring the bell.
I hear a flurry of rushed footsteps as Leslie runs to the front doer. She opens it, nearly breathless, with a wooden spoon dripping gravy in one hand. "Do you know how to make gravy?" she says, eyes wide with hope.
"That is something I do know how to make," I reply with a smile. (Thanks mom.)
"Great!" she says, and scurries back into the kitchen. "Come help."
I drop my things at the door and follow her. We make gravy from the drippings in the pan that still houses a turkey in the oven. We fall instantly into a rhythm that feels like old friends, chatting, cooking, laughing, drinking wine.
When the gravy is finished (and my arm ready to fall off from stirring), we pack a basket with my coconut kale, our gravy, and Leslie's giant bowl of salad. I carry the basket to the car, then we both carry the monstrous turkey pan, and we are off.
The vintage home, full of kitchy antiques, was brimming to the windowsills in family love as we entered. A group of pre-teens (my favorite age) sat playing cards on the living room floor. Some adults gathered in the kitchen, busily preparing the table and putting the final touches on each dish. Some more adults gathered for a smoke on the back porch. Just before we began the meal, a grandfather showed up.
The generational picture was complete, and I, somehow, had found a small place in it.
|Preparing the buffet table|
|The dining table|
|Is it done? What do you think?|
Over dinner, the conversation delved right into the heart of the spiritual, philosophical, and ecological topics on which I have been spending a considerable amount of time pondering myself. Ya know - the shift to a more feminine consciousness on earth, the interconnectedness of us all, the wonders of mycelium, etc etc.
Then, without pause, someone says something ridiculous that I can't even remember now and probably wouldn't translate in writing, and the whole table bursts out laughing. Some people keep laughing so hard they draw tears and need to hold on to the person's shoulder next to them for support.
|Teenage couple who are becoming quite an important part|
of my life. . . read on below
|Love at the table|
|My adopted Thanksgiving family|
Among these conversations, I discover that the 19 year-old young man (who has the spirit of a 70 year old sage) lives in an eco house with his girlfriend on a nearby ranch. They are into survival, ala Tom Brown, and he is working on developing his own survival school. Not only that, he tells me that there might be a place for me to live on the ranch, and that he has a friend with a farm who is looking for people to work right now.
Another conversation with a woman there turns up in an offer to live in her mountain cottage just outside Santa Cruz, with her two dogs, two cats, and yard full of chickens.
Yet another conversation with the cousin from up north brings up the possibility to work with a friend of his in the area that runs outdoor trips for students.
By the time I leave this warm and wonderful place, I have two offers of places to stay, two possible job leads, and a whole smattering of friends. I think Santa Cruz is going to be a just fine place to stay for a bit. Just fine indeed.