Here’s a list of things that don’t just make me smile, but make me feel that this world is more than just a crunchy-coated ball filled with roiling fire water and covered with evil people, hurling through space.
1) My great-niece, Jordyn. Last weekend, I held her and she looked up at me with those big, liquid-onyx eyes, and told me the entire meaning of life. Then swore me to secrecy. So, there’s that. Sucks to be you, and not-knowing.
2) Whenever my mother yells at her cats. If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear she had a house full of foster kids with ADHD. One of them, I believe, may even have multiple personalities, and talks to a stuffed mouse when she thinks no one is looking. The shit is hilarious, and brings me to tears from laughing. Every time.
3) Watching my friend Atilewa dance. She’s a real dancer, in the truest sense of the word. There is a freedom there, an abandonment of self that somehow manages to evoke ancient memories of times when dancing was everything to us. Yeah. It’s that deep.
4) My weekly conversations with my father. The topics range from possible war in Syria, to dog breeding (true story). Once, we had a 30-minute colloquy on what zombies actually represent in modern society. Every week, I learn something from him. I like to think that sometimes, he learns from me too.
5) My crew. I have a group of friends that have been in my life for over 20 years. Over time, we have grown together and have become each others’ family. People who see us are often astonished that we’ve stayed friends for so long. As for me, it’s simple – it’s all love. And lots of alcohol.
6) Eighties music. Besides the awesome fact that it reminds me of happy times, it’s just really good music. And awesome hair.
7) Food porn. This includes watching it’s preparation as well as its consumption. There is nothing like an eye-rolling, heart-stopping, mind-blowing meal. Admit it – you’ve had at least one meal in your life that you’ve never forgotten. Right now, I’m remembering a bone-in ribeye I had in Chicago (Gibson’s Steak House), and a particular piece of coconut pie in Florida with my girl Karen… LAWD.
8) Since we’re on the subject, a great meal with my friend Karen. Lemme tell you about us – we know how to enjoy food. I mean, really enjoy food. We’ve been known to throw our hands in the air and give thanks and praise. Over a piece of coconut pie. Or some rib tips and a slice of white bread. Because it was absolutely necessary. Sometimes you just can’t wait to thank God for making awesome things happen. Amand.
9) Watching a dog play fetch. Honestly, I can sit and watch that for hours. I mean, dogs give me life anyway, but this thing in particular just… A few years ago, soon after my grandmother passed, I was sitting on a park bench by myself, watching the river roll past. I was feeling like, well, a bloated, gaseous, mold-covered orange, sitting in a dumpster behind a daycare center, on the hottest day of the year, with a storm coming. And just as my eyes were beginning to fill with tears, I felt something fall on my foot. I looked down and saw a large stick, and behind it, a pair of black paws. The owner of those paws was a black lab, about a year old, who apparently gave not one fuck about why I was crying, and this stick isn’t gonna throw itself, Lady. For some reason, I felt that if I didn’t throw that stick, my entire life would have no meaning. Everything centered around that stick, and the (apparently) ownerless dog who wasn’t planning on leaving me alone until I did what he asked me. So I threw the damn stick. Over and over. And felt better. And soon, his owner showed up, out of breath and apologetic ( he had broken loose from her somewhere on the trail and took off), but it was cool. That dog saved my life.
10) Watching Michael Jackson perform. He was/is the definition of artist. It’s apparent, from the time he walks on stage until the time he leaves, that this is everything to him. It’s breath, and food, and dream, and love, and blood and bone to him. Michael was one of those rare people who are born, live and die, wrapped up in their destiny. It’s beautiful to watch, like a comet or an eclipse. And when it’s over, you’re sad, but honored to have been there to witness it.