I have left Minneapolis exactly four times as an adult. The longest length of time that I have left and stayed away is just over two years. The shortest amount of time has been 9 months, on two separate occassions. This time, I am moving to Oakland, and I feel in my gut that this move is for real.
Actually, let me take that back. The reality that I am moving has not really set home for me. But the reality of the move, the way in which I am engaging with it, and the preparations I am making around the move all point that this is a life move and not a move just about a job.
As I am saying my goodbyes, this week almost every night is dedicated to dinner with a loved one in order to say my farewells, I am struck by the people to whom I will not be able to say a personal goodbye. In particular, Susan Raffo, Rocki Simoes, and Luca Raffo-Simoes. Susan, Rocki, and Luca are off in Portugal for the summer. They left about a month ago, and so it has been about a month since I have seen them. Gone are the summer days when I would run into Luca in the morning playing outside of her house or the afternoons when I would walk by Susan's and catch Rocki doing yard work while Susan was up in the loft working on a grant proposal. The Raffo-Simoes family is my mini-family in the hood. When life sends me celebrations or struggles, Susan is usually one of the first people to know about it. When I have life questions that I need help answering, Susan is usually the person that I call to help me figure it out. When I want to remind myself that life can be simple even at its most complicated, I find Luca and we have a grass fight or I douse her with the garden house or she uses me as her personal jungle gym.
One of the reasons I adore both Susan and Rocki is that they are extremely insightful. They both often are able to articulate things about me that I am not able to articulate about myself. They are family. That is why when either of them asks me for anything, I do whatever I can in order to be there for them. For Susan, it is usually a walk and a talk or a chat about this or that. With Rocki, it's helping out with the Host Home program or sitting at a table at a festival. If neither of them were able to provide even one more moment of wisdom in my life, I would still have a lifetime of repayment.
I told Susan and Rocki a year or so ago, that Luca is going to be an important person in the world. Not in that....”ohhh your daughter is lovely and is going to do something good with her life.” No, I honestly believe that something Luca is going to do when she is older is going to radically alter this world for the better. And I will count myself lucky if I get to be there to see it.
Luca and Susan and Rocki are off having great adventures in Europe. Luca is having the type of life experiences and conversations with her family that any of us would be more than blessed to have. Salaam away little Luca...you, and Susan, and Rocki are in my prayers too.
A Prayer for Luca
May God fill your days with the love of Mama and Mai,
with grassfights and sunflowers,
with Taiko drums and Powderpups
May God send you more joy than you can handle,
the gift of wisdom from both your Mothers,
the gift of cooking from Iara,
the gift of creating something new and beautiful from the old from Kelly
May God send you many challenges,
love when the challenges seem too hard
patience when things don't work out the way you planned
and strength during the times when you find out that what you planned isn't what you really wanted
May you sleep well, dream well, and continue to move through the world with a child's eyes even as you grow up...
God bless you and your family.