a first birthday, finally.

15 March 2013 § Leave a comment

Marai’s first birthday celebration didn’t go as planned. He blew out the candles on the decadent espresso cake, one of three desserts one the table, and as the last off-key echoes of Happy Birthday died, the baby Carmelito picked the warm candles from the cake and sucked icing from the ends. I grabbed Marai’s hand and brought him back to the table. There’s another custom you must know, I said.

The Lybian/Egyptian Portlander sucked icing off his birthday candles and the partygoers laughed. Cameras flashed. Are you laughing at me, asked Marai with an accent that brought us all to a far away land, to a sultan’s tent, to camels and desert dunes unfathomable. A diligent and curious student of culture, he asked about the apparent cultural differences between our worlds rather than take offense. He’s thirty-five, or thirty-eight, depending on which passport is in his pocket, and celebrated his first birthday party with a gesture of trust.

Who of us knew Marai? How did we meet him? Question of the night. A reaching across entire communities, philosophies, and ways of being. We met in a cafe. On the street. We heard his voice at a dance jam (“I am honored to be here,” he had said, “This is a YES!”), and showed up at his house two weeks later. He opened the door with open arms. Sometimes we misunderstand each other, and work through it over tea and ice cream. We show each other our flaws and ask, can you love and accept me now?

Last night people who would not normally resonate communicated through a fiber optic thread named Marai (that’s muh-RYE), a being of light that transcends its lamp and shines shamelessly.

Happy birthday, my friend, Happy birthday. You came into the world today, like the first chapter of a novel you’ll never stop writing.

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