Saturday, November 20, 2010
Brother Where Art Thou?
It's always the best laid plans that go astray in my life. I was away for two consecutive weekends; one weekend was the tango festival in Albuquerque where I danced and sold my book, SIXTY, SEX, & TANGO, CONFESSIONS OF A BEATNIK BOOMER; and just last weekend I was in San Francisco for a book signing at Barnes&Noble in Corte Madera in Marin County. Just happened there was a tango marathon festival in San Francisco. Then I had a house guest staying with me for a week and I have been itching to blog and have had no free time. The week was a whirlwind of activity between teaching and my friend's needs.
But the essence of the San Francisco trip was my book signing - an event that was a kickoff for my 50th high school reunion next year. I landed in Berkeley on Friday night with my friend, Marc, who picked me up at the Oakland airport and I was immediately hit with memories of Berkeley in the 60's. I seemed to be carrying nostalgia for hours on end as memories engulfed me. There was San Francisco looming as we crossed the Bay Bridge; the hilly city streets I was so familiar with; Broadway and Columbus; North Beach, the Broadway studio, which was once a bordello where we danced tango on Friday night. I was tripping.
Before I knew it I was headed to Marin on Sunday morning to have a delightful brunch with an old school chum and his wife. Then to the bookstore to set up and then the arrival of friends from high school, especially my oldest best friend since I was two years old. It was so good to hug her and be in her presence. And those from my high school class were absolutely terrific people who evidently live with a lot of happiness.
Then, out of nowhere, I feel a tap in my shoulder. I turned around and there was my sister in law. It took me a moment to re-adjust to my surroundings. I thought I was in Vegas and I suddenly forgot what I was supposed to be doing.
"Where's my brother?" I asked without thinking. "He's coming," she responded casually.
There he was. My brother was walking towards me smiling like he had just swallowed the canary. That cool cat, my brother. I was speechless and feeling so loved that I wanted to collapse in tears.
"Did you drive from Vegas?" I gulped. "Of course. We left this morning?"
'You're crazy," I joked.
"Wouldn't miss it, Joan," he said with joy.
Who does that? Who loves his sister so much that he wouldn't miss her reading in our home town? What did I ever deserve to have a brother who is so selfless and tenacious, a man whose values have always been in the right place.
"Did you visit mom's apartments in Greenbrae?" I asked.
"Yep, all five are there and in great condition."
My mom and dad built apartment building in the Greenbrae hills and they are a great source of pride in my family.
The reading, the event with old friends who were smiling and laughing and supporting was icing on the cake. I loved this moment more than ever because my brother was there! I decided to read from the tango section of my book and then my friends and I did a tango demonstration. And there were questions after and there was so much interest that we could have gone on for another half hour. My brother had never seen me dance tango. It was special.
I think that there could be no higher joy that seeing my brother walking up to me in the Barnes&Noble children's section that afternoon. I know I will cherish this memory and experience for the rest of my life and it will be one of the highlights of living on this earth.