Essential Ingredients for Friendship

“One cannot walk down an avenue, converse with a friend, enter a building, browse beneath the sandstone arches of an old arcade without meeting an instrument of time. Time is visible in all places. Clock towers, wrist watches, church bells divide years into months, months into days, days in to hours, hours into seconds, each increment of time marching after the other in perfect succession. And beyond any particular clock, a vast scaffold of time, stretching across the universe, lays down the law of time equally for all. In this word, a second is a second is a second. Time paces forward with exquisite regularity, at precisely the same velocity in every corner of space. Time is an infinite ruler. Time is absolute.”

excerpt from Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

Yesterday was my Dad’s service. The flowers were beautiful, the church packed, the music beautiful, and I was miserable the whole time.  And I had no problem letting that be known when we buried his ashes in the memorial garden outside the church. It’s a little embarrassing to break down like that when everyone else was politely dabbing their eyes, but what can you do?

I do think I managed pretty well at the reception and the whole ‘receiving line’ notion. Most people, in fact, I was genuinely happy to see and grateful to share that experience with. I think it was my Aunt Judy, who was closest in age to my Dad of his 3 siblings, said that he really knew how to pick friends. All of his surviving close-knit group of college friends were there. I guess there is a talent in knowing who to let in the inner circle.

My Dad, a well-loved nut….like a cashew or something

Anyways, awkward, heart-breaking, beautiful experiences aside, it’s kind of amazing how life and time marches on no matter what is happening to everyone in their individual/collective lives. For instance, the mail turns up everyday with its assortment of bills and other junk that I like to ignore. There are of course rumors of the postal service being shut down and huge numbers of employees being let go, but that would disprove my point about consistency, so I will ignore that like credit card statements.

I had several pieces of interesting mail today that just go to show how much life won’t stop rushing at you.

The first was a piece of great news- I was awarded a grant as a choreographer!

I will be presenting a work dedicated to the history of the Mississippi River, and the commerce and culture that the Steamboat brought to St. Louis at the 2011 Artica Festival on October 8th.

Artica is an amazing non-profit organization here in St. Louis and their festival was awarded a grant from the Missouri Arts Council which they then divided up for local artists (myself included).  I’m really excited to have a project to immerse myself in at this time, and it’s going to be really fun to create something in the style, costumes, and to the music I proposed. More details to come with this upcoming work.

So that was a nice surprise. The 2nd piece of mail was a big mystery box that said ‘perishable‘ on the outside. What could it be, what could it be!?

What would be perishable? Did someone send me fruit, or thumbelina, or a big box of dreams? (Those die the fastest, right?)

Inside were all the necessities for an oak tree, which oddly enough, my parents had wanted to plant in the backyard because I think one of trees needs to come down as currently a squirrel hotel where none of them check-out.

It was sent from my best friend from Avery Elementary School (yes, the place where ‘Blacktop Ballet’ took place, and the inspiration behind my cat’s name) who I lost touch with in middle school/ high school until senior year when I had left Interlochen and was back at Webster and our friendship was rekindled. And she is still my best friend even though we’ve had our fair share of disagreements over the past few years. I think our friendship still exists because we both fight for it. Time may rattle on regardless of your efforts but love doesn’t seem to work that way.

Jess and Katie- 1rst grade/ senior year of highschool – I’m always trying to hug her and she’s none too enthused about it

Friends like Katie, or my Emily, or Mer, or my beautiful dancer friends who came to my Dad’s service, or a lot of people that I should mention, don’t fall in your lap the way the mail – good or bad- does.

Does anyone else remember Mr. McFeely, the mailman, on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood? I remember him for his creep-tastic name and for the catch-phrase ‘Speedy Delivery!”

I wonder if a traffic fine, a grant award, or a plant were ever included in his Mr. Roger’s inbox. Who knows? He asks EVERYONE to be his neighbor. (Won’t you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? No thanks, Rogerina. Keep those cardigans to yourself!)

Some of us, like my Dad, know how to pick them.

Enjoy the video- and just imagine how different it would be if they stopped it before he started singing. Wow, whole ‘nother kind of message.

2 thoughts on “Essential Ingredients for Friendship

  1. Glad the mystery box made it! Congrats on the scholarship. You deserve it, and I can’t wait to hear about what you dream up.

    I won’t stop fighting (or resisting those hugs)! Love you.

  2. Jess,

    I used to be one of the other “tenorettes” in the Emmanuel Choir with your Dad and Mom. Your Dad was a great tenor and so much fun in choir and the musicals.

    Here’s another quote about time that has helped me in times of grief:

    “There is no timetable for grief … Grief has its own time, and grief’s time is beyond time, and time itself … time is a circle, time goes round and round like a wheel, and that’s why one hears echoes of the past continually — it’s because the past is present; you don’t have to look back down the straight line, you can just look across the circle, and there are the echoes of the past and the vision of the future, and they’re all present, all now, all forever. … And now, on the dark days when life seems very hard I’ll be able to look across the circle and hear your echo in time.”

    — Susan Howatch, from “The Wheel of Fortune” (pp. 365-366 and 373)

    Eileen Duggan
    Versatiliosity (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s