I've not yet reported on one of the most heartening, stimulating, warm-spirited, community-building events in recent memory. I refer, of course, to the creative 'ROUND-TABLE' I hosted at my (well, my housemate's, but I do live here) beautiful abode last Sunday.
I was not all that sure what a "round-table" is, but a few months ago I heard a guy say he'd kicked one off many years ago at a time when he'd been out of work: just as a way not to lose his sanity, just as a way to stay in touch, just as a way not to be overly alone and overly scared. Which, I, for one, am an danger of every day and have been all my life.
So I liked the whole sound of it. I like the word round and I like the word table. There are certain words that go together in an invitational way: fellow and ship, club and house, round and table. And the more I said it to myself, the more I liked it. Round-table, round-table, round-table...
Still, many such ideas flit across my fevered brain each week, day, hour. Flit in and flit out, as the fear factor tends to rear up and squelch all fun. Thoughts crowd in such as: People will think it's lame, no-one will come, they'll come but they won't talk, they'll talk for too long, I feel like it now but I won't feel like it then, what should we have for food, indoors or out, what day, what time, what if I get stuck cleaning up a giant mess, what if it's too much trouble, what if no-one has a good time but me, what if everyone has a good time but me? Et cetera.
Now that I'm 60, though, I sort of have to say--Really? I'm afraid I won't be popular? It's a little late for that, isn't it?
Thus it was that at 2 p.m., a delightful assortment of folk started trailing in. Tom B. brought two jam jars of the most unbelievably delicious home-made-by-his-sister syrups--one cantaloupe-ginger-mint, one watermelon-fig-basil--that you mix with Pellegrino and make spritzers out of. Judy, my garden designer friend, bought a bag of fancy brown butter cookies that have been written up in the NY Times from Cayucos on the Central Coast. My friend Terry bought luscious fresh figs from her garden. My friend Joan bought a pound of butter, which I'd asked her to. Patrick (vegan) brought salsa and vegetable chips. I'd made a brown basmati rice I guess it was a salad with dried apricots and pistachios, and a peach kuchen from the Tassajara Bread Book which should be on the top ten easiest, classic and best summer desserts of all time.
Food wasn't the main point but there was just enough for everyone to nibble on and I loved the whole serendipitous, Southern-California bounty let's see what turns up effect. The syrups made our drinks pretty colors of rose and pale orange-red which somehow was just festive and just right.
Anyway, it was boiling hot out so we opened all the French doors and formed a circle in the living room and proceeded from person to person telling about ourselves and our work. We spoke of how landscape forms the creative imagination, of childhood, of dreams deferred, dreams fulfilled, transitions, hopes, plans, doubts, fears. We spoke of aging and acting, of loss of balance due to alcoholic neuropathy, of thinking THIS is the thing that's going to finally break everything wide open and of course it never is.
There were 11 of us, we went for an hour and a half, and the whole time to me was fascinating. There were old friends, there were newer friends, there was one person I'd never met before other than to say hi. There were people from very different creative endeavors, at very different points in their careers. There were tears, wounds, hopes, dreams, fears, regrets, tales of childhood, laughs. There were people from what I sometimes think of as the two parts of my life, even though it's really all one, which is to say my Catholic part and my sober drunk part, and for me that was best of all, getting to bring my friends together, to share my friends with each other.
And as always when you take a risk , and when love is the underlying drive, something larger than and way more than the sum of all of us--which is saying something, as this was a pretty stellar group--wafted in, through, and over the room. Something that to me said: You have always wanted something like this and you've been waiting all your life for someone else to initiate it. It is hard to be vulnerable! It is hard to take a risk, to risk failing, falling flat, looking foolish. But the only really foolish thing would have been having the idea and not following through.
The second one's scheduled for September 23. Start gathering your mint.
Postscript: We had three round-tables and then the momentun petered out.