Thursday, January 18, 2018

The other shore

Having moved away from my homeland when I was eighteen years old, and spending my twenties as a reporter jumping on planes two or three times a month, I now mostly travel vicariously through my girl. She has a touch of wanderlust, a lovely feeling (mentioned by some of you in the comments of my last post) that the world is hers. I love that. On Instagram, she captioned these two photos "Happy on the west coast." She came back from her weeklong trip talking about moving there, not necessarily to L.A., which is where she was, but she wants to check out San Diego. I groaned. "Oh God, do you mean we're going to have to get on a plane to see our grandchildren?" She just laughed. California whispers to her soul. 


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The itinerant's sense of home

In the last years of her life, when she was living in my brother's home in Jamaica, my mother used to wake up to that view. I look at it now, and it steals my breath. Sometimes, I can't quite hold on to the feeling of being from this place, the understanding that no matter how far I travel it will always be mine. This is the land of my birth. Lately, I have begun to wonder why I left it. It's too late now. My children are planted in the land of their birth, which means that is where I will stay.

My girl is flying home from LA today, after having what appears from her social media posts to have been a fun-filled visit. Here's a photo of her and Henri, who became one of my favorites of the friends she made college. Henri, who grew up in Hawaii and Botswana and then went to a private boarding school in the Midwest (Ohio or Indiana, I can't remember at this moment), now lives in LA, and she had a whole agenda of activities planned for our girl. Much like my daughter, her spirit is joyful. I love these young women together. Henri, who used to stay with us sometimes on the way back to college, once talked with me about the itinerant's sense of home, they way it is always shifting, never quite rooted, always with a whisper or a side-eye of but where are you really from? I knew exactly what she meant. I am an American citizen, yet after 43 years of studying and living and working and raising a family and paying taxes in this country, I still feel as if my claim on this place is fragile, understood by some as illegitimate. When I speak my piece on the current goings on in government, I can always hear the unspoken, then why don't you go back home? But this is the land where my children were born. And so I will stake my claim defiantly, and express my opinions as vociferously as I choose, because my children's rights to this land, and all that is in it, are inalienable.

Safe travels home, my berry girl. See you when you land.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Clearly now

I'm under pressure with two deadlines over here, an edit of a manuscript and the finish of a proposal, for which I still have to craft a sample chapter. So I may be scarce for a while, maybe just posting pictures. I should note, however, that I turned in my book to the publisher this week. The editor hasn't read it yet, she has other manuscripts queued up, but my subject was happy with how her story turned out and her agent was happy, and my agent, after spending yesterday on her couch reading, sent me the most wonderful note last night. I don't want to blow by these milestones. They matter. The editor is the one to please, of course, but I'm still relieved that two very tough readers did not think the book sucked.

Here's another rediscovered photo, this one of my parents with my daughter the month after she was born. My girl is in L.A. right now, visiting college friends and lifer friends. Yesterday her social media was full of boomerangs of the Santa Monica Pier, the waves doing a cha cha on the shore, the pilings under the boardwalk, riding a bicycle along a concrete path, daredevils in the skate park. This is the trip she abandoned at the airport gate last Labor Day weekend, when I called to tell her that her dad would be having surgery the following day. I find I still watch my husband closely, trying to make sure no symptoms are missed, the fantasy of complete control. He's been casting his mind back lately, realizing that his heart had been going bad for years, and he ignored all the signs. Everybody in New York is tired, he used to say. He sees more clearly now.

All is well.


Bestie


Happy birthday to my dear friend. I love this laughing picture of her with her son. 


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Love

My aunt's funeral service went off with many hitches. First, the snow storm caused flights from everywhere to be cancelled, leaving my brother and niece stranded in Jamaica. My cousin from Nassau who was supposed to deliver the eulogy, and our cousins who were traveling up from Florida also had their flights cancelled, but the Virginia, Maryland and Boston cousins drove or took the bus, despite the so called bomb cyclone that dumped so much snow and blanketed the Northeast in subzero temperatures.

The service itself was an exercise in acceptance. There was no program, and therefore much confusion about what was supposed to happen next. The priest clearly knew nothing about our aunt, and should not have bothered to deliver an address of any sort, as his words only highlighted his lack of preparation. My cousin Helen was sitting beside me. I turned to her and whispered, "I think they needed more support with planning. I feel awful that I didn't offer more help." Helen beamed her bright impish smile and whispered back, "That is just self-abuse. Let it go. Everything is happening exactly as it's meant to." I relaxed then, and let everything be just what it was.

At the repast after, the food didn't arrive for hours. The service had been a morning one and most people hadn't eaten breakfast, including me. Despite almost everyone being ravenous, the milling around and catching up with family was lovely. My cousin Winsome had found a box of photographs in her garage that had belonged to our Uncle Charlie, who died ten years ago now. She had sorted the photos in different envelopes to be parceled out to family members, and we all pored over each others pictures, remembering who and what and when. That was definitely a highlight.

My own envelope included photos of my children as babies and toddlers and at birthday parties for which Uncle Charle usually baked the cake. My daughter and niece immediately started snapping photos of the photos and posting them on social media for my son, who was out of town at an alumni track meet, and their cousins in Vancouver, who also weren't there. Not to be outdone, I'm posting one of my favorite photo rediscoveries here.

It's Sunday afternoon now. All our houseguests are back on the road heading home, and my husband just walked in carting bags of groceries. He plans to make zucchini noodle lasagna for dinner. He just said to me, "You know, I love when the kids come by and hang out with us, and I love having our extended family stay in our home, but there is a certain joy I feel when I know I'm coming home to just you." After 31 years of marriage, his words made my heart smile. Our nest isn't empty at all.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Workday


We have family coming to town tomorrow. My brother and my niece are flying in from Jamaica, and my cousin and her husband and three grown boys are driving up from Virginia, all staying with us. They're coming to attend our Aunt Fay's funeral in New Jersey on Saturday, the eighth of the nine elder siblings to whom we must say goodbye. The weather isn't cooperating. The Northeast is experiencing something called a bomb cyclone of snowfall, a blizzard whipped by hurricane force winds. Several inches have already fallen on the city, and tomorrow, when the snow ends, is expected to be a deep freeze. I am working away, trying not to slip into the familiar anxiety that assails me whenever company’s coming. The house is clean, but cluttered from the holidays, and the Christmas tree is still up, though well past its prime. But the snow is pretty, especially from inside. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Waitress The Musical


 This darling girl of mine


 gave her mother a Christmas gift to a Broadway show


which made her mother super happy because


the gift involved spending time with her girl. 


In keeping with the show's theme pie was served seatside


and so was wine, for a price of course


which totally explained why the show is a hit.


We laughed, we cried, we loved it.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Today's reality


The secret, she told me, is you have to be willing to throw it all out and start again.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Good and plenty

Last night, we were supposed to ring in the new year with friends, but the man and I were exhausted, and I seemed to be coming down with something, my head ached and felt full of wool, and so we stayed home and dozed and woke at midnight to wish each other a happy new year and hold each other close.


Then today, we went to lunch with some of the same friends from last night, and ate butternut squash soup and black bean chili and roasted chicken, and it was a lovely way to begin the year. I always feel so sustained when I am with this crew.

And later, when we got home from lunch, our daughter and her boyfriend came over just because it was a brand new year, and we chatted and laughed and heard about their New Year's Eve, which they spent with my niece and her boyfriend, and a few other friends. They appeared from the photos to have had a rollicking good time. All in all it was a story of good and plentiful food and drink, and the simple pleasure of being together. And these pictures of my daughter and her guy, and my niece in a moment of revelry, both swiped from social media, snaps of joy.



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