Gulfport, FL – February 14, 2013
No one could deny we were an odd group circled around a table in the Boca Ciega Yacht Club. My grandmother’s sister’s husband’s cousin Margarete, some of her friends, a Bay News 9 reporter and photographer, and me, two hours after I landed in Gulfport on a cold, rainy day. Margarete dished out bowls of tomato chicken soup, we squeezed chairs together, always finding room for one more, and ate, talked, and laughed.
The news cameras were off, the microphones unplugged and packed up, and our little masks of adventurer, newsman, photographer, retiree, friend, and relative, cracked and fell away in pieces as we handed each other hunks of bread and shared a moment of Valentine’s Day.
The masks would be back–someone has to report the ten o’clock news, someone has to keep paddling, someone has to dote on grandkids, after all–but not until we emptied the bowls and the last piece of bread disappeared. Not until we spilled out again into the night, warm soup in our bellies, feeling a bit closer to humanity’s magic. Not until we felt glad that we are still creatures who belong in a tribe.