Here he is, KIng Benji, armed with his magic sword.
He had his party on Sunday--with his entire kindergarten class and parents and siblings. No lines. No exclusion. Just for one day, all were invited. It was a castle party and they came as queens (I was the Queen Mother), princesses, knights (Theo and many boys), jesters (Jonathan) and other royalty. They bounced in a medievil castle bouncer, and we played Castle-themed games (What Time Is It Mr. Dragon?, Treasure Hunt, Jump the Moat, Capture the Flag, Dress-Up relay race -- Magicians vs. Jesters), canonball (water balloon) toss.
He was delirious with joy, even if, at the end of the party, he went and sat alone and exhausted in the Mini with all his gifts, crown still on his head, sword in his hand. It had been his day, for once, and it was his mountain of presents, for once.
It was hard for Theo, who has had many large parties (and wanted them, Benji was too shy). Theo came up with most of the games, but then could not stand that this was not HIS party. Ah, to be the oldest child on a day like this. So hard to give up the power, the attention, the gifts. And for once, Benji got gifts Theo wanted. It was a test for the big boy, and he did not do well.
But to my boy, today is the real day.
We had crepes and nutella for breakfast, and one gift, just one, and a Happy Birthday banner in the breakfast nook.
He was so happy.
And I am so happy he is here.
I love his sweet, sweet heart, his giant puppy feet, his little lisp, his crazy belly laugh, his 6-year-old earnestness, his guts (he will try anything), his freckles, his blue eyes, and his blond eyelashes. I love his snuggles and his self.
This is one of the entries, influenced by reading too much Haruki Murakami--of a life where things are so placid on the surface, but underneath you imagine great heaving changes, and a whole other strange world of curious characters and destinies.
So all my life I have never had great parking karma. Not bad. Just not good. And I don't really are. I don't mind walking a bit. I don't usually use valet. I have gotten my share of tickets, for sure, and I tend to push the limits of legality--a trait I inherited from my father.
My father would circle blocks praying: "Oh, Lord, please help me find a parking spot." When he did, he would always lecture us about how God cared about even the smallest thing, if we would just ask. I wondered why God would waste his energy on helping my father find parking places when there is so much to be done in the world. I would never waste a prayer on parking.
So it went.
But parking has started to become a major issue in Los Angeles. Street parking is expensive, hard to find, and now the meters have sensors telling the parking dudes when to pull up and just WAIT until the meter ticks over to zero. Jonathan just sets an alarm on his cell phone telling him when time is up. But me, I just wing it.
That is the backstory. Never had bad luck, never had good, never really cared.
But suddenly, what a change. I have found miraculous parking places day after day, with an hour right on the meter. I have had people open gates for me, let me in, then shut gates behind me.
I do feel the parking Gods are looking over my shoulder and taking care of me.
Not significant, but what a boost. And it feels like movement, good luck, heading my way.
The universe is aligning with me, pushing me where I want to go, just like a character in a Murakami novel.
Here are three small things that never, ever fail to bring me joy.
1) FRESH VEGGIES: My farmer's market basket that arrives at school every Wednesday filled with fresh, local produce of the season. "Benji, Theo and vegetables," the principle says into her walkie-talkie in the car-pool lane. I dig in, inhale the dirt and green and fruit, and then I put my hand into the produce grab bag like a pirate to see what surprises, what treasures lie within.
2) HARUKI MURAKAMI: Every time I pick up one of his books, and disappear into his strange, bizaare Japanese detective novel/psychological thriller/journey into the unconscious novels I am thrilled and all my love of life, of mystery, of Japan, is restored. He never, ever lets me down. For me, he is the perfect novelist.
3) MY BOYS: Watching them go down the steps in the morning, their backpacks on their backs--Theo gripping his wand and the Harry Potter tome du jour, Benji just skipping, checking his strawberry plants, and looking at the sky. Then all of them piling into the little red mini with Jonathan like clowns, and zooming off down the road listening to the Beatles and doing math challenges in the car.
Sometimes it feels like the world is on fire and everything is happening at once in every direction so fast you can't even keep up but you are scrambling and trying and it is good, so good, and you just keep running and praying you don't fall down.
That was last week.
Sometimes everything slows so completely to a stop that it feels like the world has died, everyone you know is asleep, and you are on hold, alone, forever, outside of time, outside of place, in a place where nothing ever happens at all.
I am an ex-journalist and a mother of two boys. I live in Los Angeles. I am a traveler, an adventurer, a writer. These are my philosophical investigations -- from the kitchen, the playground, and the streets of LA.