Leftover salad

Fork in hand, I sit over a large wooden salad bowl, making my way through post-party leftovers. Because romaine is hearty and arugula is surprisingly so -for a few hours at least- and because I squeezed a bit of lemon over the pears to preclude browning, because pomegranate arils are indestructible unless you let them sit untended for 48 hours and goat cheese is downright great when room temperature, this salad, like so many others, is the crème de la crème of final courses. I think a case could be made for the salad following dessert. Really I do. I absolutely love throwing parties. From the most casual potluck to the grandest affair a non-moneyed mom can throw, I really groove on bringing people together over good food and drink.

Tonight marked our fifth annual parents potluck for J's class, and once again, we had such a fine time. For the first time in a couple years, we weren't randomized with a majority of old friends. One couple from J's first year was here, and it was fabulous sharing yet another meal with them (love you, Les and J); but the rest were new families or couples that we haven't previously spent much time with, and I was reminded anew of the most elemental and wonderful reason for coming together with acquaintances with whom you share even a basic thread (like, your children being in the same third grade class): you might discover a wealth of information over which you can connect, laugh and better understand the diverse world in which we all live. Quite simply, you'll likely make new friends.

The former principal of my boys' school often said that we must all make the effort to regularly spend time with people who do not seem, look and/or are like us. This can take effort because, via human nature, we often tend to group according to obvious or known commonalities. In connecting beyond zones of ease or comfort, we will gain and maintain more open perspectives as well as greater abilities to understand and empathize with paths on which we don't walk.

I laughed so much tonight. I also thought and pondered and learned and simply enjoyed. I am now closer to people who can answer questions I have about experiences I haven't directly lived: growing up in America as individuals of color, different faiths, various sexual orientations. Much like the talk I had with my friend in the aftermath of Ferguson, I thought tonight more critically about how I raise my children and why. What are my goals for them? How do I model, and thus teach acceptance of, diverse perspectives? How can I help them grow up while staying true to themselves?

I thought about all of this as I chewed each bite and ultimately finished what salad remained. I smiled when I thought about how different my boys' early school and life experiences are from my own. Even though I had caring teachers and good friends, a progressive family who exposed me to so much, the times they have a' changed. The times they are more open now, and I sleep a bit better knowing that certain things for certain kids may be blips rather than land-mines, as they progress through and hone their senses of selves.

I'm so lucky to call this school community my home, to call these peers my friends. Tonight I feel grateful.