Friday, November 11, 2011


photo credit: The Baltimore Chop
I was going to write a whole thing about 11/11/11 11:11 since it's apparently de rigueur, but then, as things go when I'm awake in the middle of the night and reading and eating toast, stumbled on something that I think is more interesting. Related and more interesting.

So today is supposed to be a super-auspicious and romantic day. Tons of people apparently are marrying today to take advantage of the good luck (or so I'm told) connected with this date. In Chinese apparently, "The numbers rhyme with one husband, one wife and one soul ... and signifies a marriage that would last a lifetime." If nothing else, marrying on 11/11/11 guarantees an anniversary date that's easy to remember.

Personally I will be marking the date by initiating a new habit of taking Elevenses -- taking on some refreshment late-morning, between breakfast and lunch. If I were a hobbit, naturally Elevenses would come between second breakfast and luncheon.  I'll skip second breakfast.

While thinking about all this -- that is, during first breakfast -- I'm reading the NY Times on-line, after a quick scan of the SF Chronicle.  That's always the sequence: check email and Facebook, check SF Gate for local "news" and celebrity gossip, check NY Times for what's really going on and for inspiration.  Insomnia and getting up really early are what make it possible for me to do this -- buy me the time to let my mind run, to just drift and click from one idea to the next, see what turns up.

Because I was already thinking about all the 11/11 marriages, of course I could not resist the attraction of "Bound by Love and Disability, and Keeping a Vow Until the End,"  the sweet love story of a couple with cerebral palsy who met at 7, eloped at 37, and were together until the wife Noemi's death this week at 53.  Edwin, her husband, took care of her until the end, to the best of his abilities, with a lot of help naturally, as we all do.  Everybody wants this -- to love and be loved, to be with the beloved and care for him or her.  It's fundamental to who we are, I think.  No matter what day of the man-made calendar we tie the knot, there it is: we're knot-tiers.

Edwin and Noemi reminded me that in the mid-80s I worked for a couple with cerebral palsy, when I was a graduate student in Russian Language and Literature at SF State.  Stephen and Ethel Dunn were brilliant scholars who'd set up their own research non-profit and operated out of their gorgeous house in Kensington.  I'd ride the BART, then the bus, to their place from my flat in the grimy pre-gentrified Mission, disembarking finally in the Berkeley hills, in trees and green and quiet, and walk the remaining mile to their house.  I did mostly word processing for the for-profit side of their business, and transcription of Stephen's translations from audio tapes for the non-profit side.  Both Stephen and Ethel had this huge range of expertise and creativity, their minds completely unbound by the wheelchairs their bodies lived in.  They were smart and funny and sweet - I was always inspired by the steel-trap of their two minds and their love for each other.

And, I digress, they also had one of those libraries with the rolling shelves, just stocked with reference books in Russian and English.  Poetry, too.  I'd turn the little steering wheel to open the shelves and fetch whatever was needed.  So covet(ed) that shelving!

Naturally, because it's Let Your Mind Roam Free time, I Googled Stephen and Ethel.  Stephen passed away in 1999 I was sorry to read in Ethel's lovely memorial piece.  I emailed Ethel immediately after reading this news -- it's disconcerting that my message bounced back a minute later, the victim of a "permanent fatal error."

Those two, Stephen and Ethel, loved each other madly.  Edwin and Noemi, too, loved each other madly.  Who could ask for anything more?  Surely to find each other and love each other: that's the best luck there is, right?

On 11/11/11, may we take a little tea and a savory snack between breakfast and luncheon and use the time to think about love, to appreciate the love we have, to scheme ways to make more.  At 11:11 as I lift a cup to my lips, I will be doing just that, grateful and inspired to consider how my own love story will live on after me.  


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