So the baby blessing took place in my mother’s faintly overgrown backyard, guests’ heads thunked by falling trumpet vine blossoms (they are as large and as heavy as some sandwiches), the mingling of shadows and vines and succulents forcing the sun to do that magical dappling-of-life number that can be so very relaxing. The blessed babe wore white frills and was draped in thin blue ribbons and other appropriate blessing bits administered by the handsome monk in a three piece suit. As the ceremony progressed, I found myself utterly moved and in each moment, as Zen as the Zen blessing itself and despite (or because of?) the 12 page prayer we all recited. A breeze sent from the ocean toyed with our hair, the blessed babe’s ribbons and our prayer pages: Lovely, I thought, glancing at my husband, worried he might not be into it—but he was chanting, too, and going-with-the-flow and this made me happy—not that he wouldn’t go-with-the-flow, he’s very open to new experiences (he is a writer, after all)—but it was nice to see him enjoying himself and not at all bothered by 12 pages of recitation. He was sitting next to our little boy—who was watching the blessed babe intently—sitting next to my niece, sitting next to the sliding glass door, through which I could easily spy the generous buffet for when it was all over. I studied the blessed babe’s parents whenever I looked up from the 12 page prayer, mommy obviously in a happy place, chanting, daddy bouncing his little cherished on his knee, my mother’s yard transformed into a pretty bit of temple in the world, a sweetspot, a Zen-O-Rama patch working its Om on us. I can’t believe I just wrote that. But I’m being true to memory, for once, and at the time I thought, again (with a growling stomach): Lovely.
The post-blessing-feast also took place in the backyard, at a long table with an ample collection of trumpet vine blossoms. Attending were parents, a piano teacher, the handsome, super-stylish monk, grandparents, a famous mystery writer, a runway model, an adorable three and a half year old boy, my niece, a copywriter and his wife (she an obviously struggling writer), a screenwriter, a former equestrienne, a radio airtime ad salesman and a housewife—some titles and descriptions mentioned above belonging to all and the same person (Om!).
The famous mystery writer asked me to describe my middle grade novel. So I threw her my logline. The monk perked up right away, brows raised. “She’s only 11 years old and she has to rip the mutant’s heart out?” he asked, either astounded or impressed by the climax of my novel, I’m not sure. “Sounds interesting!” said the famous mystery writer. And we all discussed middle grade books we remembered reading as children—and we all, each one of us, remarked upon the importance of books stretching imagination and requiring thinking-readings from young audiences. I asked the famous mystery writer if the revising process ever ends. She shrugged and stabbed her tender poached salmon with her fork—more than once. “There are some books I would like to go back and revise even now,” she told me—then shrugged. “But nevermore.” Or something like that. She said something like nevermore. And the monk (was he wearing a Rolex watch—if so, it suited him—a naturally elegant man—you would like him) launched into his telling of meeting the boy destined to be the next Dalai Lama. Or he met the reincarnation of the last Dalai Lama—I mean the one before the current Dalai Lama. Or maybe all Lamas are one and the same. I’m not sure. But it was a beautiful blessing and a fascinating lunch and the first-time parents and their baby are even more special in my eyes after that day in an ordinary, faintly overgrown backyard transformed. People did that. People just came right on in and made magic together in suburbia. Fascinating.