before and after

baylands2Before and After the Rains

Busy week, interrupted by life and death. Setting up my teaching day Wednesday morning I notice a text from my son marked 4:55 am East Coast time. His wife has gone into labor. Number 3 is coming today. Morning classes only and I am excited for the news as we stack stools just before noon. It finally comes in a text photo at 12:49pm. Finnegan James Barry splayed in natal pose, arms and legs bent at the joints, wrinkled feet bent backwards, fists tight, head turned, eyes closed, face at rest, a yellow stocking cap covering his tiny head. I text my love and congratulations and anxiously watch for more posts on Facebook. Later that night I get a call from my daughter, my stepdad died late Tuesday evening in his sleep at 88. He lived a happy life, laughter and mischief right up to his last year, running off from the nursing home for one last adventure. I’m filled with the oddest range of emotions. Thrilled at the news of a new baby. Saddened by Ted’s death. Terrified that I am now the elder generation. Angry and ashamed that my generation may be the first in quite a while that does not leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. On my drive home Thursday after work, along the Dumbarton Bridge ramp, I turn off onto the vista road. Rainclouds from the day are dispersing, winds break up cloud banks, pushing them into clumps of moody, lingering golems. How is it that Boomers enjoyed all the benefits of the hard work of unions and social programs (pension plans, stock options, Social Security) and now they retire to gated communities refusing to contribute to the same community taxes that forwarded them through education? “Citizen Who” suddenly passes off the burden of taxes from which they benefitted to the next generation. How do you enjoy that privilege, then look back at our working age children, all of their children who come behind and say, not my problem? I stand and weep at bayside in the dramatic light of walls and whiffs of clouds.

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