The people around you are avatars.
My tribe is scruffy and bruised. We will visit upon each other the blessings of our kind. These blessings are meager, heartfelt and stung with joy. The joy is momentary: the richest kind.
That morning brings an hour-long bike ride. I’ll pick up wine, a worthy expense. I know good wines. It will bankrupt me, someday.
The First Thanksgiving is with a fellow priest. He feeds his African gods every day. He’s from Honduras. His talent is that he can say anything—crude, vulgar, insulting or wrong—and you will laugh with him, never offended.
This is more useful than knowing wine.
We’ll go to his brother’s house. I believe they serve sandwiches instead of turkey. The goal is to stay the shortest possible time and escape. I can’t be counted on to support this goal. I like sandwiches.
The Second Thanksgiving is in a sanctuary. It’s a private home. Every shelf, every inch is an altar to a goddess (which goddess? the goddess!). Each possession chosen to reflect faith; each belonging, designed to provoke calm and ease.
Our de facto priestess, estranged from her family, adopts us instead. We are the children who eat her Gramm’s recipes, we are the cousins who argue over wine. Every argument ends in laughter. True disagreement is exorcised in that place. Anger falls from the air like geese under fire.
We all have fears. But we are safe for ten hours. A one day reprieve from Fortune.
We could fall asleep, but that would end the show.
After dark I mount the bike. One hour back. In a cottage on St. Anthony live two college students. One has a girlfriend. She adores cooking. They’ll come home from the horse races, late, and she will make two versions of every dish. There’s no reason for this except, of course, she enjoys it.
The Third Thanksgiving. I’m stuffed but I’ll help them eat. They’re tired but they’ll open the door. I’ll offer my wine and we’ll drink like old comrades. I have known them three days.
Outside it will be cold. Drunks will sing. Cars will crash.
In that little cottage there will be truth, beauty, and—above all things—friends.
Morning banishes avatars. They fade like legends. We walked the mythic shores, once. We were that ragged band.
The epic ends, but this we keep: we were together, and loved.