Odd Is The Loneliest Number

Odd.  That describes me in a nutshell.

 Flannery O’Connor, the great Catholic writer, was once quoted as saying “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.”  So be it. I am in good company then.

 Now that I am older and wiser (at least according to the aphorism) I am less jostled by every wind of fashion, less captivated by got-cha type of thinking typical of the penny-ante journalists so in vogue today.  In more ways than one I have let odd take over.

 Some odd thoughts:

 A wise old preacher once told me “If it’s new it ain’t true.  If it’s true it ain’t new.”

 Truth has historical record. Lies, cheap novelty as in “Hope and Change.”

 I agree with Wolcott’s assessment (see James Wolcott’s Vanity Fair article  “Prime Time’s Graduation”)about the state of today’s movies being rather boorish and sophomoric and that television/cable TV is far outpacing movies with its much higher quality of writing and directing and a greater depth of characters. Yet, I despair of any good thing coming out of either.

 Truly, I cannot remember the last time I rented a movie.   I don’t remember the title of the movie, either. I haven’t been to theatre in well over two years.  For what reason I did attend is forgotten.

 TV:  I don’t watch The Living Dead, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Real Housewives of Chicago’s North Side or all manner of well-written, well-crafted dramatic episodes or all manner of crime investigations, all manner of (fill-in-the-blank) “finely textured” serial programming that Hollywood cranks out. Though superbly crafted these often prurient programs hold nothing of interest or value to me. I am happily odd without them in my head.

 You can believe me when I say that I don’t care about dead people who hang around unwanted or that Don Draper is losing himself in his work and the next untapped babe or that Walt is a terminally living drug producer and seller (Breaking Bad, like many cable shows in fact outrage me.  That anything like this can of trash is available on TV for kids and adults to view is unthinkably criminal. I’m a mature adult. I don’t care about the show’s supposedly ‘mature themes.”  I think the show is substantive abuse.)

 Look around.  We consume comparison:  commercials, magazines, TV programs, the Shahs of Sunset. I could easily imagine that Obama’s class warfare rhetoric would quickly lose its teleprompter zip if our culture didn’t keep promoting keeping up with the Shahs of Sunset and the like.

 Contentment has been dislodged from the human psyche and has gone missing.  Ubiquitous high-profile bling now holds court.  Disparity is highlighted daily. And, as a result, charity (in the form of higher taxes) is demanded in order to make all things equal.  Somehow, this equates to social justice.

 These days low-income people can dwell on income disparity 24/7.  Many now have big screen TVs and microwaves.  And, before them now on the big hi-def screen are the ostentatious rich:  The Real Housewives of Atlanta.  It would be easy for anyone watching to say “The Grass IS greener…” Envy and covetousness are in your face, especially when the bas-relief is provided by HDTV. 

 Beside this, BHO and other talking heads of the liberal media are telling them that the rich need to do their part. This demand is ludicrous.

With his bully pulpit BHO promotes class warfare.  He tells us that the answer to your problems is to take money from someone else!  Isn’t this the mentality typically found among Chicago street gang members but is now code-named Social Justice?  (BTW:  What we need is not a single payer health care system. What we need is single payer taxpayers where every single person does their part and not just 50 % of the nation. Everyone should be invested in our country.)

 Am I human?  Upon occasion:

I have been known to watch Guy Fieri (I think he’s cute.) on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives hamming it up with restaurant owners. And, sometimes when I’m in a really grisly mood I watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (Anthony, Paula Deen can cook for me anytime, your blackballing of her cooking style notwithstanding). 

 Speaking of food, I don’t own a Blackberry, iPhone or other hand-held electronic device which could bleep in a restaurant and interrupt a Crème brûlée with a dear friend.  This even though I work in a technical industry and could easily finger pointed barbs with the best of them. I am old school.  Pen and paper work well.  Spitballs, too.  And, if the world is going to end I am prepared. I won’t need an iPad telling me that I’m going to be with the Lord – that’s already been documented.

 Without the gizmos I don’t tweet. I don’t send 140 character snippets of pithy self-brined revelation out to chomping-at-the-bit (or byte) followers.  Come to think of it I don’t think I have any followers! (This post has enough characters to choke a gaggle of hand-held devices and their indentured slaves.)

 ‘What does she do?”

I mostly read, talk to myself when no one is around, go to church, dance wildly to the Romantics’ What I Like About You, annoy my family and routinely infuriate people I don’t know on the internet. 

 How odd. But with a name like Sally Paradise how could I not be the odd woman out or the \sqrt{3}.

Two Thieves Out of Time

Looking over the strata of my life, I can see very clearly now that growing up I had an Old Testament (OT) view of life.  Early on I began to indoctrinate myself with lists of things which were not right for a person to do.  If I erred, which I often did, then subsequently I would receive in my conscience the requisite judgment and punishment. Basically, I saw myself as a sinner in the hands of an angry God. My life was abundant with shame and lacked mercy toward myself or others.  My thoughts on the rightness of capital punishment fell in line with this uncompromising understanding of my sinful self and the judgment I deserved. I thought, “An eye for an eye?  So be it. It is just.”  But now, though I continue to be politically and socially conservative, I have since changed my view on this life and death matter.

A lot of my early misconceptions about God and the balance sheet I thought that he kept came from my own projections onto God, my father’s own upbringing being infused in me and from the churches we attended.

 My father was raised in a strict Dutch Christian Reformed home. He knew even more shame and punishment under his father’s iron rule of their home.  My dad’s family dutifully attended a Dutch Christian Reformed Church (CRC) situated at the end of their street. The church’s moral code was much like River City, Iowa’s morally proper society as portrayed in the musical The Music Man. Movies, dancing, pool halls were all considered taboo. Sunday was considered the Sabbath and no work was to be performed on that day. Unlike River City, Iowa though, drinking, smoking pipes, cigars and cigarettes were openly enjoyed right after the church service.

In his twenties my father broke away from the Dutch Christian Reformed Church and started attending a Baptist church in the  Andersonville area in Chicago. He soon met my mother at this church.  They married and later attended the Moody Bible Institute together. I was born while they were students.

Over the years our family attended a Baptist/Bible church. There were still OT rules and regulations but the boisterousness of the Baptist church (as compared to the almost absolute silence of the Reformed church service) sounded merciful and more accepting of one’s sins and foibles. To redeem yourself from destruction, there were the constant pleas from the pulpit to walk the aisle and to repent of your sins or to come forward and rededicate your life to Christ or to come forward and vow to become a missionary. Those were the options I remember.  Dealing with personal shame and guilt, the inner man, never seemed to be on the agenda. But, knowing your Bible in and out and cover to cover was on the program. And, in those days, talking about the Holy Spirit was almost taboo. Everything still had to be done decently and in order, every jot and tittle of your life was parsed against the black and white of the Scriptures.

 I am thankful that my dad walked away from the Dutch CRC and not from the Lord. I am thankful for the grace and mercy he has shown to me.  My father never acted in anger or in harsh judgment of me.

I am thankful for some of the time I spent in the Baptist church and for my immersion in the Scriptures. It was in the Baptist church as an eleven year old that I believed and called Jesus my Lord.  I was baptized not long afterward. But I too would later walk away from what I had been brought up in to look for more grace and mercy, to look for the REAL and not the pretentious. In my case, a load of sinfulness and a sense of reckoning ever mounted.  Walking down the aisle of a church was fruitless exercise. Over time, though, I found these two paramours, grace and mercy, in a close relationship with the Lord. And, I found my REAL self by taking the Eucharist every week.

My intimate relationship with Jesus was born out of a lot of personal suffering.  Some of the pain came out of my own sin and folly and some of it came Job-like out of the blue. I have incurred some major crippling losses in my life including the death of a child. I realize now that some of those hard times were acts of mercy – losing what was precious to me at the time but not losing everything as I rightly deserved.  These and other losses helped me to see that mercy and grace were always there with me. And because the weight of what I was dealing with was so enormous I could finally feel God’s hand beneath me. With this safety net underneath I began to cast out my fear.  I was able to give up my sin, my shame and my anger. I began to have mercy on my self and toward others. All of this past reflection brings me to my current view of capital punishment:  no capital punishment, no death penalty.

Without going into balance sheet retribution or what’s owed to society or to the victim’s rights or into capital punishment as a crime deterrent or into the enormous cost of operating the penal system I simply believe that every person should be shown mercy, whether they are in the womb (the most innocent) or on death row (the most guilty).

Mercy is not the absence or negation of justice. Mercy is the outcome of justice which acknowledges the wrong-doing before both parties (the perpetrator and the victim) and demands retribution. But instead of giving the criminal what he fully deserves mercy, instead, hands the perpetrator the noose of time.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” I believe these OT words from Psalm 23 accord with a New Testament (NT) response to man’s violence against his brother:  a perpetrator of a crime and the victim may both find goodness and mercy if they turn to God’s Truth – Jesus Christ. The eye for eye retributive justice of the Old Testament has been replaced by a NT call to a relationship with Jesus Christ:  goodness and mercy incarnate. 

The Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross showed God’s solidarity with victims throughout all time. Through His sacrifice the power of violence was renounced and the power of love and truth were advocated.  But not only has the self-giving God shown solidarity with the victims but He invites the perpetrators into the same divine circle of love with the victim. He does not abandon the godless to their evil.  “Christ died for the ungodly, the Just for the unjust.” He has loved our enemies when we could not. In a divine relationship with Him we are able to show mercy, repeated mercy and mercy again.

A life sentence should be given for a heinous crime such as murder.  Life in prison would be a just sentence.  It would allow for the possible redemption of the murderer. We don’t know whether a murderer will repent when he is given a life sentence but we do know from Scripture that the same goodness and mercy which follows you and me all the days of our lives also follows him all the days of his incarceration.  Giving a murderer a life sentence is merciful. Time is mercy for the condemned.  I now see capital punishment as being opposed to the Cross and the act of mercy

Two thousand years ago, two thieves, one on each side of Jesus, received capital punishment for their crimes. One repented.  One did not. The onlookers and the victims and accusers of the thieves had also been followed by the same goodness and mercy as were the thieves.  And like the thieves they would also have to decide where they stood in relation to the Cross of Christ. So would Barabbas. Time as mercy would tell.

*****

The ‘new’ “Eye for an eye” justice:

 “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

 Jesus as recorded Matthew’s gospel (7:2)

 “So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?”

 The writer of Hebrews (2:3)

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

Portia in The Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare

Sisterhood of the Traveling Ya-Ya

Dreams serve to help us resolve day-to-day problems while we sleep. Upon waking, dreams most often vanish into cerebral thin air while the effect of the dream, the mind’s resolution, goes on with the person into their day. It is also known that vivid dreaming will often happen during periods of personal emotional upheaval and stress. They have for me. One dream in particular stands out. I am living it.

In 1995 I struggled with the issue of gender-dysphoria. I had struggled with this issue since my early childhood. But that year, the question had become the pea in the princess’s bed: I could no longer sleep, eat or work properly. I was deeply unsettled about the matter. Being in a relationship with someone at that time made the issue all the more acute. When I finally did sleep I had many dreams. One dream stands out as being clearly prophetic in all of its symbolism.

The dream: I am standing at the end of a long dark tunnel, a tunnel deep underground. My sense is that I have been on a subway train for a long ride. I get off the train and was face the exit. Looking up (since I am way below street level) I see light coming through a long rectangular opening. I start walking up the slightly pitched exit ramp towards the light. As I walk I notice, appearing directly in front of me, a tall chest of drawers. I open the top drawer and inside there are women’s things and jewelry. I close the drawer. I feel good.

The closer I walk to the entrance, the better I feel. At last I stand at the large rectangular opening. The dark tunnel is behind me and a bright sunny day is out in front of me. I see tall buildings and behind them I see Lake Michigan. I see myself working in trenches along the shore of Lake Michigan. Unlike the tunnel I just came from, the trenches are open to the blue sky and warm sunshine. I sense that I am extremely happy working in these trenches. I feel a sense of peace. Then I see myself lying in a lounge chair on a sandy Chicago beach. I am looking out at the water, a great open expanse before me. My journey has ended and I have reached my final destination.

This dream, of course, is rich with symbolism. Carl Jung would call it an “archetypal dream” – it is mythic and grand, completely vivid. Within the dream I seek to integrate my feminine and masculine qualities – the anima and animus. Compared to my life at hand, it was the impossible dream.

This dream occurred during a time in the 90’s when I attended a church in the Chicago area. The church was, at that time, coupled with two local para-church organizations. One of the organizations is a ministry directed toward helping homosexuals leave the gay life style. It is led by a former homosexual. The other church ministry is dedicated to the “healing of the soul”. “Healing Prayer” teaching seminars were led, at that time, by a Kathryn Kulhman type figure – a self-styled prophetess.

The prophetess wrote books which were filled with quotes from notable Christians such as C.S. Lewis. Her writings spun off into different directions using her own spiritual experiences to formulate a point. After reading several of her books, I wasn’t exactly sure what her point was. It seemed to me that she tried very hard to appear intellectual and bookish and to be taken seriously. An aura of mystery surrounded her person. This invoked an image of a feminized Elijah who was often whisked away by her crew to pray in the Spirit out in the wings.

To give you an idea of the confusion that was wrought when she spoke I’ll share with you a conversation I had with someone in the lobby of Wheaton College’s Edman Chapel where she spoke. I was there attending a healing prayer seminar given by this woman. I was seeking some kind of resolution to the gender issue in my life.

During one of the healing seminar sessions, I got up to stand in the lobby. I was tired after sitting for several hours. Out in the lobby I met the doctor who was also attending the session. This doctor had delivered my son. We struck up a conversation.

Like me, he had been sitting and listening and he had also decided to get up and stand in the lobby. Standing in the lobby together, he asked me directly if I knew what the prophetess was talking about and I said, “She keeps saying it will make sense later, but I don’t know. It hasn’t made sense yet” The doctor looked puzzled. He was hoping that I could bring some meaning to the mishmash of words spoken in the auditorium that morning but I couldn’t. In fact, my own confusion was becoming deeper. I gave her the benefit of the doubt because she talked about gender issues and self-image issues, applying healing prayer to wounded-ness.

The soul healing seminars (and books) offered by this ‘prophetess’ would deal with a host of psycho-sexual issues including homosexuality. Many of the people who came to the seminars had been wounded in their youth. The wounding would include rape, abandonment, neglect, beating, mistreatment and even a possible traumatic birth (breach births, cord wrapped around neck, etc.). In essence the seminars were like spiritual LSD. Through healing of memory prayers, the attendees would relive some of the painful memories and then have those memories prayed over and then supposedly vanquished, leaving the person to go on with their life without the burden of the past. At least that was the idea.

Having been around this woman for many years while attending the afore-named church I can say that she is a wonderful person with discernible good motives. She seeks to help others who had been wounded as she had been early in her life. Her seminars bring many hurting people together including homosexuals who desperately want to leave the gay lifestyle. The healing prayers offer a place to start looking at the core issues of homosexuality, issues born out of deep neurosis and family life situations.

Her seminars would talk about the re-symbolizing. Re-symbolizing is important when a person wants to leave a bad pattern or life style behind. It helps someone, with a ‘healed’ imagination, to focus on what is good, pure, noble and true. In this process, re-symbolizing replaces the image previously fixated on and even idolized and gives the person the image of the cross – the suffering Servant, arms open, who seeks to embrace you. This message was always abundantly clear from her talks and writings.

Misogyny, the hatred of women, was one driving motive behind the origin of the ‘prophetess’ healing prayer seminars. As she recalled in one seminar, the prophetess had endured misogyny early in her life. Her mission, she felt, grew out of a need to help others who had endured oppression, hatred and worse from misogynistic people, mostly men, but women could also be misogynistic to other women and to themselves. This calling was made clear from the beginning of her writings and talks. When she related in one of her talks that she considers her misogynistic uncle an “Ass” you knew she has an axe to grind and a hatchet that needed a burial.

What wasn’t clear to me and to others are her words about the “true self”, the “true masculine” and the “true feminine”. She pointed to God as having “the True masculine and the True feminine”. What was the “True self”? What was the True Masculine? The True Feminine? And, why parse things so finely?

Many of the seminar prayers (and writings) included prayers prevailing upon God to bring a person out of their wounded past and into their true self, into a true masculine or true feminine identity. I have since learned that there is no true masculine or true feminine identity, only the sexed body, male or female, that you were born with. Gender identity, though rooted in the sexed body, is fluid and mostly a social construct. Consider these words from Miroslav Volf, a Christian theologian and currently the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School:

“Nothing in God is specifically feminine; nothing in God is specifically masculine; therefore nothing in our notions of God entails duties or prerogatives specific to one gender; all duties and prerogatives entailed in our notions of God are duties and prerogatives of both genders…”
Men and women share maleness and femaleness not with God but with animals. They image God in their common humanity. Hence we ought to resist every construction of the relation between God and femininity or masculinity that privileges one gender, say by claiming that men on account of their maleness represent God more adequately than women or by insisting that women, being by nature more relational, are closer to the divine as the power of connectedness and love.”
Miroslav Volf from Exclusion and Embrace, 1995

I attended many of these healing seminars. I did so because I was desirous of walking in the Spirit and hopefully finding a reason for the gender disconnect within. The teaching/healing prayer seminars were described as praying the soul into well-being. The prayers were not a one-shot fix but a starting point from which the soul which had been wounded or cut off from its “true self” would bring God’s touch to a place of deep wounding. Then, the process of healing could begin.

Back to the dream. During the healing prayer seminars participants were prayed over by the ‘prophetess’ and her prayer team. I was prayed over several times with prayers spoken in tongues using holy water and a crucifix. It was during this week of healing prayer sessions that my lucid dream occurred. I considered the dream, at that time, to be symbolic and nothing more. Recently, I now understand the dream to be a prophetic dream. I’ll explain.

Several years ago I made the decision to live as woman. When I did, I understood that God had given me the grace to do this and to be in a relationship with Him. God was willing to embrace me as a woman. God was not threatened or put off by my change. In fact, I have certainly been blessed throughout the process.

Recently, while riding the train to work, my tunnel dream and its fullfillment came to mind: I am a ‘new’ woman; I work (in the trenches) in Chicago near the lake front; I am settled and laid back (as the dream’s lounge chair would symbolize). I am at rest. A dream come true.

But, my dream is used as a nightmare by my ex. In my ex’s hands, my change has become a wedge between me and my children, a way of alienating the children from me. It is my ex’s ‘normalcy’ argument that hammers the wedge deeper and deeper: my ex’s position is that she is normal and that I am not. She tells my children this in so many ways on a regular basis. I know. I hear back from them. Children will learn prejudice from their parent/s over time. This is true wherever there is any off-putting’ of people and groups throughout our world.

My change, by the way, never absolved me from responsibility to my children. I continue to parent my children and give them what they need.

While the attempt to heal the soul is a massive undertaking, I see any desire to heal the soul as laudable. At the same time I am concerned about the specific ideation of the true self, the true masculine and the true feminine identities. These definitions could drive people into further confusion and perhaps into more despair. Perhaps, it would cause a return to a bad or broken symbolization because her teaching embraces the new idols of the masculine and feminine: her teaching identified the “True masculine as the man being the initiator (thrusting, pushing forward, aggressive) while the True feminine is the woman receiving (actively passive), relational and integrating life.” More mishmash. Each of us has masculine and feminine qualities and their amounts are negotiated within the society each of us live in.

On closer examination, the true self, not seduced and influenced by TV and the media, is the person who finds his or her identity in a relationship embrace with Jesus Christ. Gender identity, anchored in a sexed body, free-floats. It can be active and passive, giving and forgiving (think marriage of a male and a female, an Adam and Eve narrative). Harbored in Christ this identity is able to be open to others. It is known for its ability to accept changes in the other and to do justice.

A prophetess, a dream and a reality. The Divine Secret of the Traveling Ya-Ya finally makes sense.

“Now you can understand the quantity of love that warms me toward you, so that I forget our vanity, and treat the shades as the solid thing.” Dante’s Purgatorio 21.132-135

The True Myth of Friendship

The True Myth of Friendship Part One: Lena

Friends come and ago. At least in my life they have. I moved away from my first friend and then later another friend moved away from me. Some friends were friends in my mind only: these three ‘friends’ had other plans for me. One friend left me when I decided to make a life change and another close friend died. Friendship has always meant more to me than any romantic relationship. Friendship meant people liked to be together and do things together, sharing their imaginations. And, friendship wasn’t loneliness.

1957. Lena is the first friend that I can recall. She lived downstairs just below my family’s apartment. Lena’s parent’s, both of them immigrant Swedes, were the landlords. The three story apartment/house was situated in the middle of a quiet block on Long Ave. in Chicago. Beside the house was a stretch of grass, a garage and a food garden. Lena’s parents tended the garden daily. I can still taste the tart garden fresh strawberry-rhubarb pies my mother made from scratch.

Lena, a couple of years older than me, was in second grade. I had just started kindergarten. We attended the same school, Lowe Elementary, not far from our home. We would walk together. Lena, as I recall, looked as if she had walked out of a Carl Larrson painting: golden-blond hair, rosy cheeks, blue eyes and a snow white complexion. It was usual at any given moment, apart from school and sleep, for me to head out the back door of our apartment onto the open porch. I would run down the noisy wooden stairs to the first landing and from there jump down to Lena’s porch floor. The impact was enough to let Lena know that I was ready to play. Through their screen door I could hear Lena tell her mom that she’d be on the back porch playing with me. Her mother would respond in Swedish. The smell of cardamom bread often followed Lena to the porch.

Being best friends meant that Lena and I spent a lot of time together playing house, playing doctor/patient or playing doctor/nurse. We also played baseball and kick ball along side the house. When we did, Lena’s mother would anxiously look out the kitchen window. Her mother was very concerned about the ball coming near her garden or a window. When we hit the ball too close to the dining room picture window, we were scolded in Swedish. In English, we were told to go find something to do, but “not here.”

Finding something to do in the neighborhood was easy. It wasn’t long before we found out that a group of us kids could unscrew the nearby fire hydrant cap. On very hot summer days we would open the hydrant and let the gushing yellow water cool our feet. The splashing and laughing would go on until fire trucks came whirring around the corner. Heavily dressed men with big open eyes and mouths would jump out of their trucks. They would chase after the rapidly scattering crowd of waders hoping to give each one of us a disciplinary talk. Escaping their clutches, Lena and I would run and hide on her back porch. Once there, we would play firemen and fire. It was a Curious George time in our lives.

Friendship with Lena was an easy give and take. Each of us could easily imagine characters we wanted to be when we grew up. We would often role play a mother and father situation. When we did, Lena would always choose to be the father. I was to be the mother. As designated mother, I was relegated to making supper and having things ready when “father” came home from work. I would stand on the back porch stirring imaginary stews on an imaginary stove (the porch bench). At some point, “father” would come home, walking through the screen door out onto the porch. “Father” would give me a hug and say “How was your day, honey?” In return, I would say, “The kids were terrible.” The days of our parent’s lives were enacted again and again until the time had come for my family to move.

Besides Lena, there were other friends, too, whose names I can’t recall. I do remember that I would often walk down Long Avenue to the busy West Chicago Avenue. I would go with a friend or by myself (I was six years old. In those days, parents were not afraid of letting their kids wander through the neighborhood. I don’t think, though, my mother would have approved of this if she knew.) On the Avenue, I would sometimes visit and sit in on the service at the Salvation Army Center for the homeless and the drunks. The Captain knew me as a regular. To him, I must have looked like a lowly street urchin from a Charles Dickens’ story.

I would also visit a deli just next door. The sights and smells (and conversations) would delight my senses. There, I could buy a huge kosher pickle for only 5 cents. After paying the owner of the deli, I would reach into the pickle barrel and pull out a pickle that had been floating at the top of the briny vinegar water. I would eat the whole pickle, puckering my lips from the sourness. This is a memory that is as sweet and sometimes as acerbic as the friendships I’ve had.

Recalling the day we left our Long Avenue apartment, I was a terribly sad when our car slowly pulled away. We waved goodbye to our many friends who were gathered on the side walk. There were moms and dads, tree house friends, kids on bikes, the ice cream truck guy and, of course, Lena. That night, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I lay in my new bedroom in the new house on a new block in a new unfinished subdivision. I thought of the gushing fire hydrant, of Lena, and of the back porch where we staged our make-believe lives. I wondered, too, as I lay in my bed: Would there be fire hydrants and friends on this new street? The next day I would meet Billy and Blackie dog.

*************

Part Two: Billy the Kid, Bill the Buddy…continued here.