On Sunday, October 27, 2013, Keith Langston and I were married. Again. We tied the official knot in NYC the previous July with some of Keith’s longtime friends joining us, but it was important for us to come back to Atlanta and celebrate with as many people as possible. We couldn’t include everyone we wanted because our venue and budget were a bit limited, especially after buying a house; but there were a number of out-of-town guests we made sure to invite, hoping that a few might actually make it. We were amazed by the fact that all but two were able to join us.
Amongst the people from Illinois, Alabama, North Carolina, New York and Texas, were some very good friends from California. One of them was my long-time friend Heidi, whom I asked to make a toast. Little did we know what would come of that request until just two days before, when something special happened — a conversation between another friend of mine, Sarah Greenman, and her five-year-old son Walker.
That’s Sarah on the left, her husband Jack, and on the other side of us, Heidi and Kathleen — all of whom I worked with during my theatre days in California. I was one of Jack’s groomsmen at their wedding nine years ago, the last time we were all together in one place. It was great to have these amazing people so willingly welcome my husband into our little family.
Artistic friends like these spur me along and inspire me to keep doing my best, but Jack and Sarah have a way of bringing out the best in everyone they meet, as do their children. Walker was five years old at the time and Charlie was three. Both are exceptional boys in different ways, but Walker has a gifted mind. He imagines without restraint, speaks without a filter, and teaches Sarah’s Facebook friends something of great value at least once a week. Often referred to as “Conversations with Walker,” Sarah’s Facebook updates are brief transcriptions of chats that she, Jack, or others have with this precocious wonder. Here’s one of the many gems she’s captured:
Walker: Mom, there’s no need to worry, I can get out of these handcuffs anytime I like.
Sarah: Do you need help? There’s a little button on the side.
Walker: A police officer never needs help.
Sarah: Yes they do. That’s why they have radios. To call for help.
Walker: Well, when I get a radio, I’ll definitely give you a call for help.
Sarah: You don’t have to radio me – I’m right here.
Walker: Ok. I need some help.
And another, after reading Deepak Chopra’s children’s book “On My Way”:
Walker: Mom, I think I know what my Dharma is, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to share it and help people.
Sarah: What is your Dharma?
Walker: My special talent is building things with Legos.
Sarah: Well you never know what that may lead to. Perhaps you might become a builder.
Walker: Maybe when I’m really old, like 20, I’ll build houses and my Dharma will be making people feel safe at home.
Having become very familiar with Walker’s wit, charm, and intellect, I always look forward to what Sarah will post next. So two days before our wedding celebration in Atlanta, as Keith and I sat at the dining room table with our back-to-back laptops, he jokingly said, “Sarah Greenman has sent me a friend request. Do you think I should accept?” Of course he had met Sarah when they visited Atlanta a few years ago, so it was a no brainer; but I did not hesitate to add, “You’ll love her conversations with Walker.” To illustrate, I went to her page to pull up an example. “She just posted this one,” I noted, but instead of reading it to Keith, I burst into tears. A few minutes prior, as Jack and Sarah were making their final preparations for their trip to Atlanta for our wedding, the following conversation had taken place:
Walker: I’d like to draw a picture for the couple getting married.
Sarah: Great! They’d love that.
Walker: Now is it a man and a man, a woman and a woman, or a man and a woman getting married?
Sarah: Good question. It’s a man and a man.
Walker: Good. Then I’ll draw two people with short hair. And I guess man clothes.
Sarah: Do you want to see a photo of them? (She shows him a photo.)
Walker: Oh, one is bald, that’s good to know. And look how smiley they are!
Sarah did not post the drawing right away; she brought it with her and it remained tucked away all weekend — that is until Heidi took the mic to make her toast after Sunday’s ceremony. At the last minute, unbeknownst to me, Heidi had been reshaping her words to include both this story and the official reveal of the drawing. As she noted for all those who couldn’t see the details, Walker had given Keith his professorial hair and placed a few short pointy hairs on my own balding pate. What’s more, Walker drew hearts on either side with dotted lines connecting us to each other. Heidi concluded the story of the drawing by saying that children like Walker represent a new way of thinking — one that will create a world very different from the one in which most people at our wedding grew up.
So while we wait for all the Walkers to change the world, I continue to hope that adults will still learn from children, that people will not repeat the mistakes of their parents, and that more folks like Sarah and Jack will have more children like Walker Greenman.