In preparation for his trip to Martha’s Vineyard, Marcus did research. This is a guy for whom numbers tell a story more than words. His passions number three: the study of paleontology (the study of prehistoric life using fossils to determine evolution), astronomy (the study of celestial bodies in space) and his family (Ingrid, Kendra and Kayla). He is remarkably well-versed in these topics. What sets him apart from my other friends is that he uses numbers to translate facts and emotions into something meaningful for him. An example. Without intending to be the least bit pedantic, Marcus will drop into the conversation such things as, “Did you know that over nine million quahogs were raised by the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group? I read that a Shellfish Warden name Richard Madeiras was instrumental in the program’s success. In an ironic tragedy, this Madeiras was killed in a boating accident off of East Chop.” Somehow, these comments are generally conversation busters.
Marcus, upon hearing a discussion of summer people leaving behind their pets may interject, “ As a matter of fact, the Martha’s Vineyard Animal Shelter found homes for 337 cats, dogs and guinea pigs last year.”
While today, Marcus might be diagnosed as being on the spectrum of some kind of learning difference, we -- more or less -- accept and embrace him for the quirky guy that he is. When I mention my plans to go to Mytoi Garden (on Chappy) and the Polly HIll Arboretum (State Road, West Tisbury) Marcus inserts, “ Thirty-three Kousa Dogwoods trees were preserved by the 2012 spring campaign at the Arboretum.” Sometimes, however, the constant stream of data, facts and figures can be like chalk on a chalkboard, but it is who Marcus has always been.
His fourteen-year old daughter, Kendra, and his twelve-year old daughter, Kayla, are very close sisters. I have not heard them bicker once, which, to me, is unusual in, and of, itself. They have Ingrid’s glorious Nordic physique and coloring and Marcus’s remarkable intellect. I am not the least surprised by how much Marshall is enjoying being with them. In an odd way, he has cast off the mantle of being a Whately Prep faculty brat and he is just himself with them. Ingrid and Marcus invited Marshall for a two-week visit to L.A. if we would spring for the airfare. Julia and I agree it would be good for him. It is impossible not to make just a few jokes about his flight home, loaded up on Doc Johnson gifts. I will talk to him - discretely - about not putting any such items in his carry on luggage. I can picture him squirming during that discussion already!
Ingrid and Julia bonded on the beach. I am not sure I could have predicted that.
I am in the kitchen doing what I do to get ready for a barbecue. Our house expands to accommodate more people than it would seem because we sleep on the screened porches in the summer. The umbrage of the huge oak trees as well as the pitch of our neighbor’s roof keep the porch dry in all weather except a hurricane when the rain blows horizontally. It ‘s not yet hurricane season. The two girls asked if Marshall could sleep outside with them if he uses an inflatable mattress. They squealed with excitement when we said, “yes.”
Julia and I are standing hip to hip doing food prep for dinner. We picked up fish at Larsen’s. I am marinating the tuna is my famous Asian Marinade; it’s a recipe I concocted over the years, I think the fresh ginger, lemon, and sesame seeds are what set it apart. Julia is chopping vegetables for one of her ginormous salads. We sip a chilled, insouciant white that I picked up from Our Market. For twenty bucks, it’s not half bad.
I hear suspicious rhythmic clanking of headboard against wall in the tiny bedroom right over the kitchen. I reach over and click on the radio. Whatever WMVY is playing serves to mask Ingrid and Marcus and their afternoon delight.
Julia has Sarah suspended from a jumpy swing on the doorframe between the kitchen and the dining room. Her face shows her determination to jump, jump, jump until she can not longer do so.
“Sooo, did I hear you tell Marcus you’d take him to Mytoi Garden?” Julia hands Julia an ice cream scoop and a spatula to hold.
“I made tentative plans to go with a guy I met at Mocha Motts and figured, ‘The more, the merrier.’ I’ll call and make sure he doesn’t care. I told you about him, right? His name is Bill Wexlar. His mother lives next to my mother. He’s a landscape designer on the Vineyard.”
“That’s a cool connection to make. I don’t think I knew about him. How did you even put together the pieces?”
“He recognized me from pictures at my mother’s house or something like that. Anyway, nice guy, I ‘d like to get to know him better. We made tentative plans for an early am sojourn to Mytoi. I planned to call him today. I completely forgot my cousin was visiting. You don’t mind they moved over here rather than staying at my parents’, do you? It was really awkward in my parents’ small house and with my father having those colon test on Monday.”
“Of course not. I may need to go back to Whately Prep for a quick visit on Monday -- related to the vandalism at the graveyard. I was thinking of taking Ingrid and the kids, if they want to to go. You know Kendra wants to go to Whately Prep in the fall?”
“Are there ninth grade openings?”
“Only full pay. The scholarship money is used up.”
“I don’t get that will be a prob..”
A crash upstairs interrupts me. We both look up. Julia has her hands on her hips, lips pursed. I can’t help myself and reach over to mute the radio. There is a low humming oscillation directly overheard on the floor upstairs. They must have dropped a vibrator. Or two. Julia is laughing so hard that she has to hold on to me to keep herself vertical.
An hour later, both of our families are sitting on the front porch. The adults are in white wicker rockers, with our feet up on the railing. Kayla and Kendra are on the porch swing. Julian and Sarah are chasing butterflies with butterfly nets. I am glad we planted the Butterfly bushes. I have lost track of Marshall. I go in to get another bottle of wine and some more cheese. Marshall is sprawled out on the sofa, asleep. In the kitchen, I hear the washer chugging away. Opening the door under the back stairs, I peak in at the stackables. The washer is on. Either Marcus or Ingrid must have started a load. Sheets.
Thanks to Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative Philantropy Day Newsletter 2012
for providing statistical facts.