Popi

Acts of giving are love.

Love Letter Day 10.

I never met Popi but I drive his car. He passed away earlier this year.

Popi was the owner of both the bicycle and the car that now belong to me. Popi’s son, “Junior,” whom I know as Jorge, had bought the bicycle for his father thinking it would get him to exercise a little. Not only did he not ever ride the bike, he rarely drove his car. Jorge inherited the car and took back the bike. His wife, Naomi, was the one who offered these gifts to me in donation, and this is how I learn about the generosity we afford ourselves when we forget for a second the opportunity costs of possession. I tried to valuate the belongings for my own edification but now they are priceless because I am reminded every time I ride these objects, that I should never keep anything that I think you should have instead. Your generosity astounds me. I am crushed by it.

This sequence of acts of belonging, the acts of transmission of belonging, touches me. Jorge and Naomi wanted to pay forward the belonging of these items rather than to accede value in any item by selling them. They knew I’d had my bikes stolen in New York; knew my family might benefit from having a car since we also have a toddler. I presented need. They’d had the improbable fortune of inheriting a new car, or the value thereof, and did not want to come out of that transaction richer but rather, to send the car on to its needed destination. I insisted on a monetary exchange and they kept refusing.

The universe also spoke. Maybe it was Popi. He must have believed I really needed a car, because as it happens, at the same exact time Jorge and Naomi offered me their car, my sister also offered me a car she was not going to use. It’s really not Popi though is it. It’s his children—son and daughter-in-law. We think parents are full of unconditional love, and it may be true, but I aspire to have child love. I aspire to give like a child. I want to ask like a child. I want not to think of the monetary value of things when I give and take.

I love the idea of things belonging. Say the word enough times and you would give away your vehicles too. Belonging belonging belonging.

I want to give you all of my belongings.

Post-script: a nice book about Gifts by Lewis Hyde.