Growing up as an ultra-early riser, I would sometimes awake just as the sun was coming up to catch the early hours of Sports Center, for no reason other than to be able to say I woke up before my younger brother. Ten-year-olds can be competitive about the strangest of things.
On the 29th morning of October in the year 1994, my mother lost her favorite rosary when she flung it across the hospital room and broke my father’s hand as she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. They named him John after John the Baptist because, like Elizabeth, my mother had given birth to her first child later in life. They brought him back home to love and cherish forever.
I think that, if we’re lucky in this life, we’ll get to come across perhaps three or four really really good ponds. This story begins with one such pond: a koi pond at Balboa Park in San Diego. This particularly good pond was something that I happened upon while ambling around the park one sunny June afternoon in the company of someone I dearly love. We weren’t alone in thinking it the perfect day to take advantage of such a treasure: there were dog-walkers and stroller-pushers, families and friends, couples old and young. Loveliness seemed to flutter all around this large pond, gently begging us to lend our attentiveness.
Growing up, bedtime at the Brummond house was quite an extensive ritual. After we took a bath, my mom would let my brother and I pick out three books each that she would read to us before tucking us in. One such book that sticks out in my memory is Happy Adoption Day, a short children’s book based on a song. The lyrics to the chorus were something like this:
I wanted to be common like bread:
so when the struggle came she wouldn’t find me missing.
These lines from Pablo Neruda’s poem “Nothing More” were etched on a plaque, as a tribute to my late father, Denny, by a close friend of his. It hung on the wall of their local watering hole where my dad had gathered often with friends, colleagues, and strangers to recount the day or sometimes to forget it.