A writer’s life offers few luxuries, though the hard work is far from labor. Long after the overwhelming support my first novel received, my days are once again enriched with book discussions, interviews, and talks regarding my new novel The Moon Daughter. This has taken me back to my readers and continues to provide the boost I need, but it leaves me no leisure time. However, even in my crazy schedule, there are some opportunities that can’t be missed: a good play, a concert, and a chance to have a cup of Coffee with Kafka!
How often does one have the opportunity to celebrate a loved one’s 131st birthday? Yesterday, as scholars and fans of Franz Kafka gathered in Pan’s garden to celebrate his birthday, the last thing we expected was a play! Then again, the events are always sprinkled with delightful surprises. I consider Coffee with Kafka as one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets. Not only do we support a worthy project of universal literary value*, we have fun doing so and learn much from them. Where else would one receive so much for the mere cost of a cup of gourmet coffee?
Yesterday, as we celebrated Kafka’s birthday, the audience of over thirty was treated by a most entertaining play, written by Zakaria Schwartz, a second year student of cinematic arts at SDSU. He has written a heartwarming screenplay, depicting Kafka’s extended life. As always, Pan’s garden provided the Zen atmosphere, helping us to imagine beyond the mundane. The performances were better than most stage readings, and the story took me back to a writer’s comfort zone, the zone where you dare to ask yourself, “What if?” When Kathi Diamant spoke the words that Dora Diamant might have, the audience was deeply moved, and then, as if that wasn’t enough emotion, the butterflies came!
Years ago, I was told that when a loved one is deeply missed, their spirit may visit in the form of a white butterfly. For those who know me, it’s not hard to understand how the old Persian myths return to guide me. The last time I saw a white butterfly was during the prolonged grief for my late brother. I don’t see too many butterflies in San Diego, let alone a white one in my own backyard. That tender visit helped me to believe that he knew that we remained connected. It has been fourteen years since, and while my rose garden is filled with a variety of lovely birds, I have yet to see another white butterfly.
Yesterday, as Pan’s garden filled with the love of Kafka, a white butterfly appeared out of nowhere. The delicate flight shied away from the crowd and simply circled the stage over and over. I want to believe Kafka’s spirit had something to do with that. I further want to imagine the monarch following him was Dora, that they were both there, celebrating his belated birthday with us.
A diabetic, I am denied the pleasure of Extra Ordinary cake, so instead, I volunteered to do the slicing. Later, we were to toast Kafka with some champagne, while the audience could say what they each needed him to hear. Champagne would be another treat I’d have to miss, but I knew exactly what I would toast Kafka with: “Here is to Franz Kafka for giving us Kathi Diamant!”
* Kafka Project is in search for his lost literary treasure.