Monday, March 31, 2008

Friday night in the Bay Area

I had dinner at Baraka with some of the wonderful women that I grew up with in HYOC--my close-to-my-heart Hina, with whom I first moved to New York for our freshman year of college; Joanna, who we figured out I haven't seen since Hina's wedding about 4 years ago, and there only briefly, and with whom I haven't had a more extensive conversation since an opera rehearsal camp 8 years ago; and Jenjen, who came with her lovely partner Raquel. Jam Guy came too, and I was pretty much in heaven between the wonderful company and the food we ate--a lamb tagine, an incredible dish of prosciuto-wrapped dates, and, most memorably, a seared octopus dish that was so much better than I'd imagined, even given how much I like octopus.

Jam Guy and I drove back to Santa Rosa and late that night I fell asleep and dreamed that I was sitting at a table with my HYOC girls again, with the empty seat open and waiting at my left, as it had been for Jam Guy earlier that evening. In the dream we were eating an afternoon kaffe und kuchen--the German version of high tea, coffee and cake at 4 pm--that my mother used to love, especially after a day of shopping. I dreamed that I thought about my mother, and wished so hard that she could join us and that that empty chair was waiting for her.

I dreamed a wish, and in the dream the wish came true: My mother came, smiling, in the best of all her possible moods. She was loaded with shopping bags, the way she would be in some of my favorite memories of her. She sat down in the chair next to me, so happy to be joining us for kaffe und kuchen, so happy with the shopping she'd accomplished. She was happy to see me, too. I didn't know what to do--I knew, even in my dream, that my mother is dead, and that whatever was happening was out of the ordinary. But I was so happy to see her that I decided to pretend that everything was normal. I chatted and gossiped away with her, and the other women there must have been astonished too, but I was totally wrapped up in her.

I was so happy and shaken by her presence that I was crying, all wet with tears, but I was trying to keep my voice normal and keep acting happy and chatty. I didn't know if she knew that something supernatural was happening, and I didn't want to do anything that would make her go away. It was the kind of dream you almost wish you could live in.

I was still happy when I woke up. I thought, there must be something to the fact that in the dream, she was sitting in the place that was waiting for Jam Guy at dinner the night before. I thought--I still think--it was a good omen that she was so happy.

Jam Guy made us coffee and oatmeal with sour cherries and cream, and then we drove to Berkeley to meet with April Higashi, the wonderful artist who is designing our engagement ring. She had found some rubies for us to look over. When we were debating the ethics--both from a human and an ecological standpoint--of a mined ruby versus a lab-created ruby, we had written to April for insight from someone in the industry, and she'd written us a lovely email helping to elucidate both sides of the discussion and really helping to clarify our perspectives.

The first stone that drew me was a small, oval ruby from Madagascar. I hesitated, though, because it didn't seem red enough--it was tending more towards pink. The lab-created rubies looked redder, but somehow too perfect, sort of dimensionless. April said that if we didn't love any of the rubies she could bring more for us to look at, but I was really drawn towards that first one.

When I held it against a gold band, though, it did look beautifully red--red with the little shades of magenta and gold that you see in a glass of Merlot (which isn't, for the record, my favorite wine to drink, but it might be my favorite one to look at). April put some light on the stones, and the Madagascar ruby in the light actually looked redder than the lab-created stones, which made me happy--I really wanted the stone that I'd been so drawn towards to look like the stone I had envisioned in my ring. Somehow all of a sudden it all worked out--I'd been leaning towards a mined stone because of a desire to spend in a way that supports a community in a developing country instead of a corporation; Jam Guy had been leaning away from a mined stone because of the tragic politically-motivated events in Myanmar, where most rubies are purchased, but this stone was not from Myanmar; April pointed out that the stone would look even redder when set and also that she believed that things have energetic properties (which I agree with) implying that if I was drawn to the Madagascar ruby from the beginning, I should pay attention to that feeling. We decided to go with that stone, and on the drive home I remembered my dream, and thought about how everything had fallen into place this morning.

Mom: what a shopping trip it was. Thank you for being happy for me.

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