Remember that time in NYC?

My friend Jessica and I did some kinda sneaky things. For example, I used to put my slacks in my coat pocket when we went to weekly dances at the Firehouse.  When we got there I would take off my skirt and change into the slacks until it was close to time to be picked up. What the reason for this little subterfuge was I really don’t remember unless it was a rebellion against the societal dictate demanding that ladies be ladies? (snort)  I also took my socks off at the bus stop, and brushed out my teased hair on  the way home.

My friend had a bedroom in what was essentially the attic. There we opened her window and smoked our Salems or Newports, blowing the smoke out the window. I forgot to mention there was a door at the bottom of the narrow stairway which helped keep the smoke contained. We had no idea that a smoking parent could smell it on us from 8 feet away, while a non-smoking parent could smell it from the neighbor’s house.

I learned two things during this short period of time. The first thing was how good chocolate kisses could be with menthols. Or how good menthols could be with chocolate kisses. I’m not sure which is more accurate, but I’m thinking it’s the latter statement. The second thing I discovered was just how cat-footed Jessica’s mother could be. She was more than half-way up those creaky steps to the attic when Jessica thought she heard something and got up to check.  We (internally) freaked out, but her mom just stood there laughing at us. “I knew you were smoking up here! Who do you think you are fooling?” She was laughing and wagging her finger at us. “You stupid girls.Go ahead and smoke yourselves to death.” There were a few Yiddish and Polish words thrown in that I am glad I didn’t understand. The posture and context were enough to give me a rough idea.

Now, what does all this have to do with New York? I’m getting there, I’m getting there. Don’t rush me! I don’t do all that well under pressure. Jessie’s mom as a widowed woman in the 60’s worked hard to enough money to supplement what her husband had left the family. She did temp jobs in office positions, and for a time sold jewelry. She made periodic visits to the City to buy jewelry which she brought home to sell. I have no idea how or where she sold it. That didn’t matter to me in those egocentric years. What did matter was going with her on a buying trip. We drove most of the way and then took a train or an el or a subway or all three – yeah, yeah, an el and a subway are both trains – into Manhattan. The mother would take her younger daughter into the shop with her, and Jessica and I hung out on the street doing some mild flirting with almost any young guy on the street. I say ‘mild’ flirting because we were just practicing for when we knew more about what to do when we caught one of those fish. Of course the fishing netted mostly eels and piranhas three times our age. Some were sleek and slimy, some were dirty old predators, all were scary to us.

We rejoined Jessie’s mother and sister for dinner. Afterward, we split up again. They went to see a movie – It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World – while we, having already forgotten how scary it could be out there, went to dance at a place called The Cheetah. Oh, heaven! What a wonderful place to be! Music and dancing, dancing, dancing, a breather and then some more. I remember the cushioned sofas or some kind of seating and small round tables set in front of them. When it was time to leave to meet the rest of the family out front we hurried from the far side toward the front door. The strobe lights chose that moment to expose us to blinding, pulsating light which caused my to lose most of my vision and most of my ability to walk a straight line. The next thing I knew I had run into one of those little tables and gone ass end over teakettle and was on the floor on the other side and trying to be a big girl and not cry. The people around me who had seen this happen in brief flashes, one of whom was Jessica, were looking concerned as they laughed their butts off. I would have done the same thing if I had seen it happen to someone else, but this was ME, MY dignity, MY leg, and after we had hobbled and hopped to the women’s room where we could see, MY blood and MY stockings.

Meanwhile, back on the street, impatience was growing, temper was rising, as we were late meeting the movie-goers. By the time I was able to walk and the bleeding was slowed down, Jessie’s mother was steaming. Even the torn and still bleeding shin were not enough to stop the steam cloud from forming. And so we left to catch a train. Jessie’s sister gloated as she walked beside her mother. After all, she wasn’t the one in trouble, we were, and the stream of vituperative and unknown words flowing from that little woman was down-right embarrassing. Jess and I walked slowly, partly because of my leg, and partly to distance ourselves from the crazy babbling lady with a bag. By the time we got to the train station, the crazy lady had run out of steam so we were able to sit with her on the train. When we reached the car she was even sympathetic about my injury. Soon afterward we were back to as much peace as can be found between mothers and teen-age daughters.

I still have a pitted scar on my from over forty-five years ago, and I still smile when I think of that day.

One day left…

“There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.” Jean-Paul Sartre

One day. Today is what we have to work with, and that’s all the time we have for the truly important things. Tomorrow is only a concept and a hope that there will be another today. Make plans? Set goals? Of course, but that is all secondary to today’s plans and goals.

Work is the great thief. It is essential for survival and possibly personal satisfaction, but the time is stolen from the essential things leaving only a few short hours, if that, to fulfill our plans and affirm our goals. The plan I have today is to love everyone I meet, starting with my family and friends and extending to all who cross my path. A smile is a beautiful gift when added to concern, good wishes or prayers, and a little help where a need is seen. I work to love those who have wronged me or mine, but it is worth it for the peace forgiveness brings into my life.

The day’s goals are to find and maintain that peace, work to change something that needs changing in me, and share a laugh and a hug with someone I know and love. The hug is not for strangers! If tomorrow becomes the new today, I will keep my plan and adjust my goals as I see the need. If I have succeeded in at least attempting to do the right thing, then I will have rest before I sleep and dreams ready to comfort, challenge, and restore.

Live today, and sleep well. 🙂


The morning routine:  I staggered out of bed to take my mother’s coffee to her. Took my 7 morning pills, then took the breakfast tray from my husband and delivered it to my mother. She’s old. Staggered back to my room to give myself a couple of shots. No, not alcohol. Insulin. That done, I semi-staggered to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, came to my recliner and sat. It is now almost lunchtime. I did get up once to refill the coffee cup, and it’s time to do that again! I must remember to take a few more trips around the house to avoid calluses on my posterior portion, and quad petrification.

My husband will fix lunch, I will take mom’s to her – she’s old – and after lunch I will probably lie down and watch tv and nap a bit. I will get up and wander aimlessly for a few minutes, then let the animals out, making a pit stop before fixing something for my mother’s dinner. She’s old. After taking it in to her, I try to visit with her for a while if I haven’t already done so.

Having let the cat and dog out a few more times, I will head back to the bedroom for more lying down and watching my evening selections on tv.  I’ll take my bedtime ration of medications, (only 6 pills) and enjoy stabbing myself a couple more times, make another bathroom visit, and generally will not fall asleep until I hear my husband pull into the garage. In reality, which I like to avoid, it’s my husband’s Jeep I hear pulling into the garage. I’m usually sleeping when he comes to bed except in the warm weather when I have to run the air conditioner to survive.

When I say I have to run the air conditioner I mean just that. Toward the end of last summer it stopped listening to my needs and wants. Once it started cooling it wouldn’t stop. It doesn’t matter where the temp is set, the darn thing will just run until I change its mode to fan only. I can no longer leave it running untended. Last year was worse as the remote had gone missing and I had to leave my comfortable spot and cross the room to make the appropriate adjustments.  This year the remote crawled out of its hiding place and spends much time in my hand where I confuse it with the (much larger) television remote and try to change channels with it.  Or I attempt to stop the ringing of the telephone by pushing a button and putting the thing to my ear, all the while hearing the continuing ring. Ack. 

My mom has an extension in her room, but moves even more slowly than I do. Once she gets the phone in her hand, she will not answer it until she knows who is calling but cannot read the caller ID. By the time she remembers she can barely see, the caller has hung up. We have a lot of calls go to voice mail just because she’s old.

I digressed. Big surprise. I think I covered the basics. Most of my days are about the same. If it were not for those days that are not the same I would have lost all of my marbles years ago. This week I enjoyed one of the different days. We went to the airport to welcome my son home. I think I hate Afghanistan as much as he does. It was a good day!