Day of the Spirits

They say that November 1st is a day for the spirits, where the boundary between living and dead is thinner than usual. Many cultures throughout the world have traditions and ceremonies recognizing this, which the American holiday of Halloween faintly echoes, with pumpkin effigies and meats for the dead in the form of cheap individually packaged candies. We fear death much like we fear life, we Americans, and it shows in our tawdry imitations of religious holidays for the dead. Hedging our bets, perhaps?

Today we made a feast. There was much debate over what to eat for dinner so we made pizza. I whipped up a batch of crust and we laid out a cutting board with ingredients and each person built their own. I had olive oil, mushrooms, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, mozarella, feta, and goat cheese. It was delicious. Others went for sauces and meats as well.

We crowded round the table, cheering each time someone’s individual pizza came out, and drinking Australian Shiraz. It was a good night, among friends, and I was reminded of why I moved here, why I live where I do, and how enjoyable it can be to forget material worries for a few hours while glorious food is prepared and eaten.

It was a lazy sort of day. The Castro wore everyone out. Luckily, everyone got home before the shootings, which was a good thing. Puff reported wet streets, suggesting that the street cleaners had been out. Sitting in the back yard this morning we drank jasmine tea and ate leftovers from the night before, talking about the shootings and the state of the world. The sun was warm and there was a mild breeze, just enough to ruffle the sleeves of my yukata.

It was the sort of day where nothing really happens and at the same instant everything seems to come together. Pizza was scavenged by the feline contingent and books were read in the living room after dinner while we digested the remains of the day.

Some people say that we city dwellers live hollow lives, rushing from one point to the next in a constant quest for fulfillment. Looking at the faces around the dinner table tonight, I wondered why anyone would bother to seek something more than this simple happiness of crisp tomatoes splitting open on the tongue and conversation glittering around the table.