Over the years, we’ve developed reliable rituals that bind us together and give passing time meaning.
Teri, whom I’ve known since she was my first neighbor here in Santa Fe twenty-five years ago, has lunch with me one Sunday a month, almost without fail. I go to church most Sunday mornings and she has her Sangha many Sunday afternoons but between these two pillar posts, we managed to squeeze in at least an hour and a half for hamburgers or salads—and for me sometimes a mild Bloody Mary—at our favorite restaurant. Every Sunday we discuss going somewhere new and every Sunday we find ourselves again at the Rio Chama, deserted at this hour, sitting in the same booth. We’ve observed the rise and fall of various chefs with equanimity; only one, who couldn’t for the life of him produce a medium-rare burger, needed to disappear, and did.
What do we talk about? Family, of course—it’s unavoidable; Teri’s two long-grown children, my three, her four grandchildren, my five. But, more pertinently and possibly more interestingly, the life of books and politics in Santa Fe. Teri never misses the Planned Parenthood annual luncheon, I am usually full of the doings of the local ACLU. Teri survived a nearly fatal car accident a few years ago, coming back full of steam and with her lovely appreciation of life unhindered. I do believe we are blessed to know each other.
My cosmopolitan filmmaker, writer, painter and accomplished equestrienne (she drives her own horse trailer to competitions), Alice has spent many years in the big world; multitalented, she sometimes shoots sparks in all directions. With her adorable husband, she lives on Big Dog Ranch, south of town, managing horses, dogs, multitudinous friends, various houses and the many twists and turns of her creative life with aplomb. I am more easily overwhelmed and so her equanimity is precious to me; when she leaves for the Rhode Island shore in August, I feel the hole in my life. I will never forget meeting Alice at the MacDowell Colony in southern New Hampshire years ago; she first caught my attention because she had brought along a horse.
Sarah is the friend I have known for the most years. We met in Louisville sometime in the 1980’s, and I witnessed the birthing of her press, Sarabande Books. With a tiny cadre of talented women, she publishes twelve beautiful books a year, with the exquisite detail we so seldom find in books put out by the commercial presses. Wisely, she limits her lists to collections of poetry and prose, and her books are reviewed favorably all over the country, most recently with a full-page spread in the New York Times Book Review. When she visits me, we hike, eat and talk about the dramatic changes in the field of literature, which Sarabande Books has managed to enfold. And we talk about my new short stories, which she will be publishing in the next few years. The working title is Not Yet Now: Short Stories and Time.
How blessed I am to find my life supported and enriched by these three women. Their friendships run like bright sustaining threads through the vivid, sometimes chaotic, patchwork of my life.