Each morning I wake up at 5:00 a.m., and three days a week I go for a run, and five days a week I write something (like this blog post), and then I do a bunch of hurried administrative work, and then I run out the door to get to the pre-designated drop-off location at just about 9:30 a.m. when the Learners are expected to begin arriving at Abrome. In order to make this all work I need to plug in my phone, battery pack, and walkie talkies every evening so they are fully charged; change out the water in the water jug; pack lunch; and pack my rucksack. On Tuesday night I realized that my entire backside was bruised and the very stiff neck and legs that I had were probably from the fall I took while trying to run the retaining wall on Monday. By the time I woke up on Wednesday I was feeling even worse, and it seemed as though a run was not in the cards for me on Wednesday morning. So instead, I got to writing earlier than normal.

At 6:50 a.m., I took the Cuddle Buddies out for a walk because Wednesday looked to be a very busy day, and I was going to be carrying a chair and guitar, in addition to my rucksack, so I would be leaving Ivan and Ingrid back at Abrome. I came across a boy standing in the dark at an intersection two blocks into my walk, with his parent sitting in an SUV next to him. I said to him, “it’s mighty early to be going to school, isn’t it?” He said, dejectedly, “yeah.” I texted my friend Kate, who I meet up for a zoom writing group three days a week, that I was going to be a bit late for our usual meet up. When I got back I logged on and tried to wrap up my writing that I felt I was pretty much finished with so I could work on some advertising work for Abrome. But Parkinson’s law held true, and even though I felt I was 90% done with my task, I spent much of the next hour finishing up my last ten minutes of work. I did eventually get around to doing the advertising work, but not enough as I had to rush off for my Abrome day shortly after 9:00 a.m.

Once I arrived at the drop-off location, and as I was setting up for the day, a couple with their dogs came walking up. I said hello, and one of them asked if I was Antonio. She said that she worked for the city and thanked me for speaking out against the abuses of the Austin Police Department, and then she asked about the work I do with kids. It can be too easy for me to dwell on the struggles of these times, of trying to grow a community when most people are too scared to move toward freedom, and of the daily challenges that come from playing in the tension that arises when we elevate freedom and community. But hearing validation from a stranger sure was a nice way to start the day.

As I was waiting for the Learners to show up I began to get messages of Learners who would be out or late. It turns out we would only have three Learners to start the day. I had hoped to play a game of Tableaux, but it is not so fun when not many people show up. So instead we held our morning meeting and I offered up a discussion on one of a variety of topics. We chatted briefly about what intentions are, and how they differed from goals, and why we ask them to set intentions each morning. After the meeting the Learners said they wanted to head to the lake.

At the lake people really settled in. The Learners who found their way to the dock spent time with a couple who showed up and shared space with them. The two Learners who were late because of appointments arrived in the second half of the day and joined the other Learners on the dock. One of the Learners decided they were going to order pizza, which they ended up sharing with each other. Although I brought my ukulele to play with the Learners who brought they guitars, it seemed I should spend my time away from the dock, doing some admin work for Abrome and checking in on the Learner who was inking her comic.

A Learner reading stories from her recently published book

A Learner reading stories from her recently published book

At 2:00 p.m. I joined an offering where a Learner read select stories from her recently published book. Although it was a book of scary stories, the Learner led with a hilarious story, with the best surprise ending, that had us both rolling in laughter. It was my favorite moment of the day, and perhaps of the entire cycle. On a day in which I could have found many negative things to dwell on, the unmitigated joy that I observed in this Learner helped remind me of the beauty of childhood, and the power of moments spent with people we can trust.

After her offering, we went back to the drop-off location to refill our water bottles. When we came back, everyone went back to doing what they had been doing for much of the day. I pulled out a Rubik’s cube and tried to work my way through solving it. I asked the Learners to vacate the dock for the afternoon roundup where one Learner set the conditions for the meeting, and another Learner facilitated a rushed meeting. We then walked back toward the pick-up location, with a short wait for a Learner to go to the bathroom. At the pick-up location, one by one, the Learners were picked up by their guardians, while I wrote down some notes and then toyed around with the Rubik’s cube a bit more. I then joined the end of the day check-in with the other Facilitators by phone, and then rushed back to pick up Cuddle Buddy Ivan to get him to a vet appointment. I then took the rest of the evening off to recharge for the coming day.