Care & Maintenance of My Tribe

When I was still coughing like it was my job, but not catching, I headed to Pasadena for the afternoon and spent some time in the Norton Simon Museum. The space is open and airy and there's a nice sculpture garden in the back, which was unfortunately closed due to all of the rain. There was an exhibit of Picasso's lithographs, a series of one image repeated, each time stripped of more detail until the final print was the distilled essence of the first print. Van Gogh's Bedroom was on display, a loan from the Art Institute of Chicago. There were huge, exuberant paintings by Sam Francis, sculptures by Degas, and rooms full of South and Southeast Asian paintings and sculpture.

After lunch and some aimless wandering, I spent an hour in my car, reading and waiting for a reading by Emily McDowell at Vroman's Bookstore. Emily makes the most spot-on line of greeting cards I've ever come across - I love them! She recently released There's No Good Card for This, co-written with Kelsey Crowe, Ph.D, which addresses the paralyzing inability most of us have to find the right thing to say when an empathetic response is needed. Emily was funny, warm, and engaging. I stood in line to have her sign a copy of the book and she even signed one her own cards for me to bring back to Molly, who was supposed to meet me, but had caught the dreaded plague.

After a night in Santa Monica and a tough, but necessary early morning conversation with Katie, I made my way to The Getty. It was cold and rainy, perfect for my Eeyore mood. Seemingly every single grade school student in Los Angeles was there, trailed by exhausted and annoyed chaperones hissing "don't TOUCH that". There were puddles everywhere, some sort of terrible optical illusion making them invisible until the moment my foot was soaked.

I found a quiet corner and spent a long while staring out at the rain, thinking about the care and maintenance of friendships. It's really hard to consider my shortcomings, to take responsibility for them, apologize, and move on. In the end though, it's a lot like exercise - it feels so good when you get onto the other side.

I have a lot of discrete tribes in my life, some online, some in person. They all feed a different part of my soul and they're critical to my health and happiness. It's only right that I give them the best I have, that I am careful not to take them for granted, to make assumptions, to practice casual disregard.

After a bit I stopped pounding on myself and wandered around, deciding that I really like Bruegel after all (that painting above is truly amazing, you have to get your nose really close to see all the detail and color).

I finally made my way back to Santa Monica and cleared the air with Katie, slowly but surely getting back to the easy, warm, close relationship that we have shared for so many years. Some friends are absolutely worth the hard work of navigating the bumps. They lift me up, provide encouragement, meet me where I am, and love me no matter what. I'll be keeping care and maintenance of my tribes in the forefront of my mind moving forward.