Sally and Terry will arrive on Friday night, adding to my list of illustrious visitors this year. Sally and Terry are my parents and if you’re lucky enough to know them, you know what an adventure they can be. I was just telling a co-worker that the difference between my family and Stoker’s family is like that between the Greek family in (yes) My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the family in The Queen (the one about the queen of England), without the cultural differences. My family’s not Greek and Stoker’s family isn’t British aristocracy, but my family is fiery, loud, and opinionated and Stoker’s family is opinionated but pretty calm and quiet. They talk but it never gets heated. In my family dishes will be thrown.
Just kidding. But they will be.
Stoker’s parents came for a visit this summer. I have no pictures of any of these visits. I just can’t do it. I forget to take pictures, but when I remember to take them, they always turn out hideous. I don’t have the photographer’s eye. And I can’t suspend my disbelief long enough to take them or have them taken of me. I always feel awkward with a camera in my hand.
When Stoker’s parents came, as a parting gift I gave his mom* a copy of the Annie Dillard book An American Childhood. It’s an excellent book and I know that she’ll identify with the kid in it because his mom was once a pixie, I’m pretty sure. The kid in that book is a pixie, a real doll. Stoker’s mom has never stopped being a doll, if you ask me. She has this girlish quality about her that really catches a heart, and you can’t help but fall in love with her. She radiates energy. She sits on the floor if she wants, with her legs tucked under her like a little kid. And she engages with the world, like she still has so much to learn, like the curiosity in her has never died. I love that about her.
I gave Stoker’s dad this book called The Soul of the Night by Chet Raymo. At first the book sounds like it might be a Harlequin Romance, but then you read it and die. It’s perhaps one of the most poetic books I’ve ever read. (I read it in Chris Cokinos’ class and I only mention him as a kind of nod and thank-you for having introduced that book to me. He deserves the credit for the introduction [which is almost as important as having written it]). The book connects the bigness of the cosmos with the author’s small life on the earth. He quotes poetry and relates it to his perception of the night sky and the place of the earth in the universe. I don’t do it justice.
When I met Stoker and was falling in love with him, I gave him two books to read. The Soul of the Night, which he read quickly and enjoyed, and Crossing to Safety, which he also enjoyed. That sealed the deal.
You just know someone is for you when they can read Crossing to Safety and love it, and read Soul of the Night and get it.
I’m probably a jerk for giving people books. like I’m the dispenser of all good books and beauty (I am), but I can’t help it. If I respect someone and love them, on some level I relate to them by sharing the books I love.
Math Matt stopped by for three days on his way to Atlanta a week or two ago. I met Math Matt at some point during my time in college. He’s my intellectual friend and he’s stayed a friend all this time and now he’s Stoker’s friend. We had a great time with him. He can talk about anything with you. I say something that’s on my mind, like if I said, the movie The Departed was good, Matt has a response to that. Most people just say, “Oh,” and that’s it, unless they agree with you. But Matt’s opinion about The Departed was that it was crap and he’ll explain why. You have no idea how much I appreciate hearing other people’s opinions. I’m so surrounded by my own opinions that sometimes I want to scream I need a fresh view so bad. Stoker and I agree on lots of things, you see. Usually we both hate the same movies and love the same movies. Before Matt left, we gave him a copy of We by Eugeny Zamiatin. It’s a Russian book that Matt hadn’t read (surprisingly), and since I had just read it and loved it, I decided that Matt needs to read it ha ha.
My protégé and younger sister, Cassi, spent the 4th of July with us, and we spent an embarrassing sum of money on fireworks while she was here. At first Cassi was unimpressed because in Utah fireworks are sort of lame. Just fountains that whistle Dixie. In Tennessee you can buy Roman candles and other insane fireworks that shoot into the sky and flower. Once Cassi realized this, she secretly loved the fireworks. I didn’t give Cassi a book because the entire time she was here she played Portal on the Playstation, read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (again), and then read Interstellar Pig, half the time hiding out in the upstairs guest room. It was a real vacation for her. Before she came there had been lots of talk of all the cool bike rides we’d take and other explorations. None of that happened. It was hot out, I guess.
So, my parents will be here soon and I’m wondering what books I’ll give them.
*Also, I was a horrible daughter/daughter-in-law this year and didn't get anyone Father's Day or Mother's Day presents.