A weekend of Whitman, whether I wanted it or not.
We went to my husband’s family reunion, just his mother’s side of the family and it was a mass of folks we didn’t know, but the sprit was infectious. A big African American family hauling vats of fired fish, green beans, chicken, potato salad, macaroni and cakes in profusion. Two grills were fired at all times for chicken, where the BBQ sauce was swabbed on by a rag soaked in goodness. Burgers, dogs and corn sizzled alongside and kids ran wild, but rarely cried.
There was dancing, the Electric slide and kids swinging in the pine filled Virginia park. We all had purple tee-shirts where the roots of the tree reached out to wherever we may have begun, curling to where we all were on Saturday, ALL IN ONE PLACE. There was a blessing and hooting and hollering. After all the eating and hullabaloo we returned to downtown DC to our little hotel and repaired, all in preparation to head out to Ben’s Chili Bowl, home of the famous Obama visit.
Ben’s was packed and we squeezed in. One part of our group colonized a booth in the back and the other waited inline for food. OH YES chili fires and after that day of eating we were still raring to go. The music was divine morphing from Prince to Al Green as the juke-box spit out choices. A heartbreakingly beautiful young mother, rail thin, eating a double dose of fries, held her two-year old daughter who insisted on touching the picture of Obama stuck to a mirror behind the booth where he wolfed down his Ben’s goodies.
We walked after dinner and talked and laughed, and I forgot about my lack of job or all my fears. Why then was it a Walt Whitman weekend? Because we kept passing him in name and countenance. His bridge on the highway, Walt Whitman rest stop, I don’t imagine he loves that, unless folks are using it for illicit sex or to read his poems. And in a used bookstore my husband bought my daughter and me an old copy of Leaves of Grass and Harold Bloom’s take and retake on the famous poems. We read sections to each other from our hotel beds as we digested copious amounts of delicious grease. Family and poetry comes in many forms from old books, and ornate language to a family steeped in grase and laughter.