BABY IT’S OLD OUTSIDE

IMG_0232Bill and I sat in this amazing cacophony of hearts, cupids and a view of Indian Bay. By navigational error, we had arrived at Serendipity for lunch. The ceiling was red gently rolling scarves of fabric. The fountain encrusted with pink, purple and red blown-glass grapes. Except for the tables, all surfaces up, down and sideways were encrusted with symbols of love.

Three white-haired women had gathered at the table in the center. The last one to join them spoke the most. As I listened to their weaves of conversation, all centered on the final act of their lives, I felt a chill.

“You think you’re going to live forever,” the late-arrival began. “I took care of my mother and thought I was done. But it’s been 15 years with him and I am tired.”

The woman to her left, touched her hand gently. “Of course, Sadie, of course. Will you cook at the senior apartments?”

“No stoves, Gloria. Thank god. Time for a meal, I’ll march myself down to the dining hall.”

The third woman chimed in, “And doctors, can you get to doctors? That’s all I do when I’m not sleeping or eating.”

“Francesca, they arrange the rides if you don’t drive,” Sadie said.

Gloria cleared her throat. “How much does it cost – everything laundry, heat, lawn service, in your home a month, everything compared to this senior apartment?”

Sadie smiled. I could see her the clearest. She was in the middle droning on and on about being too tired to do the wash, not wanting to pay anymore bills, being almost done with the everyday tasks of life.

I didn’t want to hear this.  I wasn’t sure how much older they were than me. But I saw them outside my peripheral vision, outside me. And I didn’t want to go there. Instead, I looked at the ocean, the menu, my husband and all the hearts and cupids. I hung onto my beloved’s hand – and love.

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BLUE MAN BLUES

What is real and what isn’t?  What is fiction?  That’s what I’ve devoted my life to finding out.  As a writer in search of her voice, I need to dance with strangers.  I did so in San Miguel at the writers’ conference I attended there several years ago.  It was my first foray into Mexico.  My dear friend, Heidi invited me to share an adventure.  That’s where we met this lovely Blue Man.  What a lovely figure he cut.  What better person than a Blue Man to chase away the blues?Blue Man San Miguel

A Wedding, A Baby Shower, A Funeral

In the course of 30-some days, I attended a lavish wedding in New Jersey where Italian and Jewish traditions merged, a High Tea baby shower in Delaware where the gifts were dinners, errands and babysitting and a  funeral in Pennsylvania where suited men recounted stories of a man they loved and cried. They were all points of life, all sharing a piece of joy. This is life. I experience it. I write about it. I muse over it. I open my arms and embrace it. I grew up schooled in avoiding death, tragedy, pain, sorrow. Yet it is and always has been around me. But the arms of death, tragedy, pain and sorrow are linked with those of joy, celebration and new life. Textures, smells, sights, sounds and tastes fill every point of our lives.  All we’re asked is to experience it.IMG_0061

DEAR SUZANNE – I MISS YOU

  • Once upon a time, I was a Comp 101 adjunct at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland and next door was this incredible quiet, brilliant creativelit instructor who invited me to sit in on her amazing class — and the rest was history.  Suzanne became one of my dearest friends and cheering gallery for my writing and my life.  Our lives intersected in so many ways — even the day her husband moved out, I left my husband.  She was chosen along with me to be published in the Cleveland magazine fiction contest. She wrote, she edited, she brought up daughters and at around 50 married the man who loved her from their college days at Iowa.  I was thrilled when we both moved back to Ohio but then suddenly, tragically, she died in a vehicular accident.  Suzanne, you are still with me.  You infuse each word, each image, each time I open my heart.  Thank you.

MY TATTO0 AT 60+

bw tattoo hand

 

Twenty years ago, my daughter and I had bonding tattoos .  I made her go first bcasue if there was pain, I might run out the door.  Now we’ve done it again.  I wanted something to remind me to write as much as I could, every day if possible.  Hers was in honor of her two late bunnies, Midnight and Snowball.  So here’s my larger-than-I expected quill pen — and my arm.  All for the love of my daughter and writing.

MY MENTOR & FRIEND GLORIA

We both sported red purses and height. She was a National Book Award Winner sent by the New York Times to cover Vietnam. First woman journalist to do this. She believed in my writing and I believed in her. She left sticky notes in her apartment when she committed suicide. The one emblazoned on my forehead, "I do not want to live if I can't write."

We both had red purses and were tall — although she was over six feet tall, a National Book Award recipient, A New York Times reporter – first woman sent to cover Vietnam.  She believed in my writing.  I believed in her.  Her New York City Apartment was filled with sticky notes found after her suicide.  “I don’t want to live if I can’t write.”  Words to live by.