The end in the beginning

A girlfriend once told me that I wrapped presents so poorly that no gift inside could overcome the offence I’d given by the mayhem of paper and tape on the outside. That was almost forty years ago. The sight of wrapping paper to this day makes me want to smoke crack.

A few Christmas seasons ago, I was in Buffalo with my partner staying with her family. The night before Christmas she took all of the gifts she’d sent to Buffalo in advance out of the boxes, so that she could wrap them here in our small bedroom. The room seemed an unshakeable chaos. There were sixty-two presents. I started to cry on the inside.

My beloved was in her element and conducted before me a symphony of wrapping. She saw no chaos. She saw the end in the beginning, perfectly appointed presents with delightful cards, never disorder, no antagonism between love and skill. Sixty-two marvellous gifts, given in love (successfully).

Genius sees no complexity. It sees the end in the beginning. We don’t. I don’t. We see a mess.

Amazon recommendation in my inbox this morning

Good deal!

The Nashville wing of the Basil family is looking fine

A gift for friendship …

I’ve certainly been the lucky recipient of John‘s. Many have.

I remember the moment well: I was lounging in bed on a Saturday night, drinking red wine and reading some escapist nonfiction, when the telephone rang.

It was a young friend, a guy half my age, and he was in crisis.

He and his girlfriend had moved in with her parents to save money. He was calling to report that they’d just broken up.

“Damn, dude,” I said. “Where are you right now?”

He was still in the room with her. There was nowhere else to go.

“You can’t stay there,” I said. “Come to my place.”

He was just one of the wards to take up residence in the suburban rehab facility of penance and partying I call the Home for Wayward Men.

Many check in, serve their time, and move on. Some return for more deeply-seated therapy, higher dosages of medication.

Others drop in regularly while on business trips. One blows in once a year like a disheveled desert tumble weed rolling down Interstate-15.

Most are younger than me, one older. Sometimes they arrive in twos.

What they all have in common is that they need a place to go, to escape crumbling relationships or just the suck of everyday life.

The door is always open.

I live alone, my wife resides in another state. I have time and space to lend my ailing droogies a helping hand.

I have no clue what they do in their room once the door is closed. One is like a messy teenager, leaving the place a disaster zone of plastic swizzle sticks, hairballs and oily orphaned socks each time he leaves.

No matter. I just hazmat the joint and await the next checkin.

Meanwhile, I keep two chairs in the living room, one facing the other. One guest and I refer to them as the Sultan’s Chairs. …

Read ‘The Home for Wayward Men’ to the end.

Feed the Tree.

Cardero and Denman.