Our son’s birthday was yesterday. He was 22. My husband, all on his own, planned a gala event for him, and told me only a few days, maybe 4 , before. LOL!
I had my doubts that he would pull this off because of his plans: fully one half of the event was a going away party for son because he has enlisted into the Navy and leaves for ‘boot camp’ in the Great Lakes region somewhere on Dec. 8th.
This is very hard for momma. Our only child, and he’s in college. This was quite a shock when he informed us what he did (enlist) and I thought things somehow would change and he wouldn’t go, but they didn’t. We are proud of his maturity in wanting to do this, but of course, apprehensive. There’s a matter of this damn war.
My husband had plans for a bakery to do a cake in the form of a battleship…or aircraft carrier, and two days before the party, they backed out. Our local grocery store did a “Harry Potter” cake….and though I wasn’t involved, I wondered at this. However, it was a good cake! I don’t know what was the filling between layers, but it was good. For an hour I scoured a party store the other day for something nautical for a center piece, and only found some gummie bear-looking soft plastic sea creatures….something too small for the “3 and up” crowd, but the 50 and over bunch made some obscene tableaus with these creatures on our table. I am pleased to say that all of our son’s friends didn’t do what the ‘adults’ did with these pieces. Sheez.
The venue was a new place….open about 4 months in SW Atlanta, called “Space Atlanta”. It was huge, but the front area we had was small enough so 40 people wouldn’t get lost. My husband had decorated it with balloons, ribbons tied to the back of chairs, ‘birthday’ table cloths and flowers. The food catered by Space Atlanta was great and husband ran a tab. Jesus Christ! My friends can drink!
Our neighbors, a lot of my husband’s co-workers came (our son had worked in our husband’s place a few years ago for one month but got fired because his hair was too long. LOL!) my belly dancing students came and other friends. But the best thing was our son’s friends turned out in force (well, 10 young men is force to me) and they were delightful.
When young men…from 18 to 23 are not corrupted by adult life….have mostly stable homes of some sort, have a supportive community of either college, neighbors or family…well, they are a delight to see. They were big, hulking, young men for the most part, with shaved heads or dreadlocks….and if I didn’t know most of them, they would be pretty scary if you met them on the street at night. But they weren’t of that nature or character. They were sweet with the bloom of youth and good young men. I was glad that my sometimes snarly son had such a cadre of friends.
A couple of months ago, we celebrated our first Shabbat. A Friday Jewish dinner….and a couple were guests at this. They were black kids, close friends of our son, and this was the first cultural event they had been to outside their own religion. We aren’t Jewish, but had been studying Judaism for a couple of months and thought we would try this lovely and spiritual event for our own family.
I think this added something to our family and our guests. We played scrabble for an hour or so after dinner and they opened up about their own lives. Perhaps that is part of the communication that sometimes happens in these events. Regardless, I got a chance to listen to these young men and hear what their lives were about. And realized that they are still….children.
I hope they don’t grow up faster and become jaded adults, but they probably will. I hope we can be there to give them some slack and support. They deserve it, as does my serious son. Oh! and I learned a lot about said son from his companions. Apparently he has “girl-admirers” all over campus….something we never knew. My husband and I looked at each other and realized our son has a secret life we know nothing about. He never talks about these things.
A couple of men from my husband’s work had read my first book, “A Seasoning of Lust” and one of them was quite a classics scholar. One still held on to the cd of “Lady Nyo’s Poems and Other Verse” that was supposed to be printed in Chicago this summer. He was the project manager of some big job and a delightful man. One friend John Taurus, who has written for this blog before, came and a table of us had quite a ‘non-birthday’ discussion going.
I have just finished Robert Kaplan’s “Balkan Ghosts” and since there was a Slovenian, and two Romanians there, John, myself and a few others, well….the discussion strayed to ethnic cleansing, WWII, back to Mozambique and what is happening with the take over of the farms, back to Romanian brutality during WWII and the Serbo-Croatian war. And people chimed in about Afghanistan.
A few there had read Mary Renault’s fiction and I have just started her “Nature of Alexander” about Alexander the Great and all those wars and campaigns, bad family and what passed for ‘state ship’ in those times.
My friends had more extensive knowledge of Renault and her writings, and the criticisms of her books, but it doesn’t matter because she was writing literature that was head and shoulders over much of contemporary works. Anyone who can sling Plato and Socrates and ancient Greece and Persia into an extended sentence has my admiration and attention.
The personnel of Space Atlanta were fantastic people. Again, young men, and they couldn’t have been more gracious. My husband apparently printed up some flyers about my first book, and a promo for the second, and gave them to the staff. I got a lot of questions when we were leaving about publishing, writing, belly dancing, mysticism and some good ghost stories from one of them. They want to carry the books there, and that is so lovely of them. But I felt comfortable in this venue for the books because the art work is wonderful, the place is great and I think the clientele will go for this.
Atlanta has been having a really hard and divisive time with the mayoral campaign and first round elections. Racial issues that shouldn’t ever be part of anything have been prominent in the news, and life in general in our neighborhoods. Crime has certainly been an issue. Last night was a wonderful place of communion and friendship, between neighbors and friends, black and white, and it had to be one of the more uplifting times of recent memory. I think the discussions of literature and history and world events fell into a very natural place amongst us.
Many thanks to the staff of Space Atlanta, 1310 White Street, SW Atlanta. And many thanks for the thoughtfulness and energy of my husband.
He did something hard and made it seem effortless and we all had fun. And our son goes off to a dangerous and adult life in the Navy having the friendship of his friends and the concern of the adults around him.
It doesn’t get better than that.