~listening to mantis~

October 18th, 2008


It climbed up my purple suede ankle-strap shoe, up my Cuban-heeled seamed stockinged leg, and up the hem of my five-layer green silk dress. I was just fascinated right up to that point, but it was clearly on a mission to climb all of me, right to my heart, and that was more than I could abide by. I let out a girlie sound, Don tried to rescue me, Alfonso tried to rescue him, and eventually the Praying Mantis was deposited in some near-by plants.

Michelle had brought it over, running towards me with what appeared to be simply an empty champagne glass and a very intense look in her eyes, exclaiming, “Kim!” but what was in fact an incredible alien insect. Her kids Hattie, Imogen and Gus had found a couple tarantulas earlier.


The visitations felt significant. Tarantulas–all spiders–are traditionally symbols of creativity and patience. Jung considered them a mandala of sorts, the web a kind of self-made fate, a symbol of wholeness. My personal experience with tarantulas leads me right to evolution. When molting, they create a web like cloud to cradle themselves, and then slowly they crack open and shed their exoskeletons. They crawl right out of the husks of themselves, like the Phoenix from ashes.

Praying Mantis are thought to be guides, divine messengers. Mantis is Greek for prophet or seer. In Arabic and Turkish cultures a mantis points pilgrims to Mecca, in France the mantis points the way home to lost travelers. The trick with a messenger such as this is to determine: what has it come to say, exactly?


On the day of our Los Angeles reception we had gorgeous weather in Calabasas. The Ahmanson Ranch was even more lovely than I had expected (having rented it sight-unseen, though Karen had toured the grounds.)



We had a carload of friends from San Francisco, a brave first-time driver from San Diego, friends and family that flew in from north and east, long-lost friends, new friends, the very oldest friends. We spent the late afternoon and evening feasting and chatting under fairy lanterns, floating on clouds of love. There was story-telling, laughing, copious photo-making, beautiful readings from many, including my mom, and a toast from Don I will never forget.



Life offers these moments so rarely, friend and family worlds colliding for no purpose other than celebration. It was grand.
It was overwhelming too, being at the center of such an ocean of emotions! By the time we were back in New York we had learned the rhythm of being “Bride and Groom,” we were old hands. Not so this night, we did however have the foresight to arrange for a live accordion soundtrack to underline the Fellini-esque quality of it all, so this is good.


There are so many pictures. Here are just a few from the still moments before it all began. In the first, Alfonso is practicing our toast. The second is our classic self-portrait.



The message of the mantis came to me days later, in the midst of the wedding proper: let love in.

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