life

it’s all happening

Violets seem a little magical to me. Just a few days ago I looked around the yard, and there was no sign of them, though I knew it would be soon. Then I came home yesterday, glanced down, and low and behold, little purple buds peppered the landscape. A thick patch right outside the back porch door. Another cluster in the back of the yard, behind the garage. And yet more on the field next door which my neighbor graciously lets me and the girls use as our own. Continue reading »

daybreak

Moving forward is not as easy as one might suspect.

Moving forward means leaving something behind.

I found out something last week that I’d been trying to uncover for years. Michael and I were never sure the exact date of our first date. We both knew it was in May. I vaguely remember because it was close to the birthday of a college friend of mine at the time.

And I remember it was before Memorial Day. I have a vivid memory of searching for a payphone near Battery Park City to call him while having a picnic with the family for which I used to be a nanny. The only clue I had as to the day was that it was the same as my best friend’s graduation from F.I.T. Over the years I’ve asked her if she remembered the date, but it was lost on her, too. Continue reading »

monday, monday

I realize the general consensus regarding Mondays is that they’re an unwelcome event. I prefer to see them as a wipe the slate clean kind of day; a new beginning, of sorts. Way back when, Mondays used to be mommy and me day. Virginia was still a wee one, and only went to daycare four days a week. I’d wake, go for a run, come home, cook breakfast, pack lunch, and then gently wake the rest of the house to start the day. Once he left with Bella for school, Virginia and I would cuddle on the sofa with poached eggs and toast, watching Sesame Street.

Then it all changed so suddenly, and it took me a while to find my footing. In the beginning, it was a matter of survival. Each Monday was a reminder that I’d gotten through another week. I feel like you should get a grief badge for each one, the way they give chips at AA meetings. As time passed, Mondays morphed into a day of relief. Single parenting seems relentless on the weekends. It’s one long 48 hour shift without a break. Continue reading »

and we strolled there together…

Twenty four hours ago I was walking out of Webster Hall. It was my first time ever going to a gig alone. I don’t think I’d even seen a live concert until I met Michael. He was my muse and mentor, all at once. Some of it is undoubtedly chalked up to the 14 year age difference. Though I suppose at 21, the age I was when we met, there was no excuse I hadn’t seen a live show, except for the fact that music just didn’t have the relevance in my life as it holds today.

I remember the day George Harrison died. I heard the DJ mention it on the radio as I was driving home from running errands. M was sullen, and mournful, when I walked in the door. He was in a funk, and there was no shaking it. I very unthoughtfully told him to snap out of it after a few hours…it wasn’t like he knew Harrison. Why the need to put a damper on our day? It would be years later, and losing part of my own past, to understand what that connection meant to him. The Sunday I woke up to hear that Lou Reed had died, I felt empty and numb inside. I lost something I couldn’t get back the day Reed left this great earth. I lost a piece of my love all over again. He saw Reed many times, but me, I only saw him twice, and both with M. We heard him recite the Raven someplace in the city…I should know that, shouldn’t I (note to self: go look in M’s box of old ticket stubs). We also went to see him perform Berlin at St. Ann’s when it was in Brooklyn Heights, not Dumbo (is it even there anymore?).

I got lost in Lou and Patti Smith when M died. I got lost in all the music he loved when he died. It was my life raft, my arm stretched out, fingertips grasping to him in the distance. Lou’s passing was a reminder that you can’t hold on forever. The tangibles eventually become intangible.

Today I caught up with a dear friend, someone who has believed in me since the beginning, in a way only Mikey ever did. I told her that last night, going to see Patti by myself, it taught me something. For the last few years, and probably long before that, I thought I had no claim to his music. It was his, and I simply liked it by default. In preparation for our move six months ago, I made the decision to sell part of M’s record collection (or is it albums? I never remember the difference between a record and an album). It took three passes before I had a “sell” pile.

The first pass was purely sentimental.

The second run through resulted in a slightly larger “sell” pile, having discarded some stuff I knew I had no interest in (if only I’d known that damn Leonard Nimoy album was worth more money!!!).

The third pass was a ruthless stripping away at the layers. It was no longer about my allegiance to him. The stakes were higher. What did I like (not the Sex Pistols!!!)? What did I think was essential for the girls to have as part of their father’s musical history?

Finally, the pile was whittled down to half, a mere 200 albums. The day the guy from St. Mark’s came, I felt somewhat dirty as he handed me a wad of cash. It felt tinted with betrayal. But the truth is that he had threatened many times to digitize it all, and get rid of the vinyl, to which I always protested “over my dead body”. Guess he won that argument…

Anyway, last night I realized that while I came into my own musically under his tutelage, the ownership of taste is all mine now. So much of our relationship, the first nine years in fact, were quibbles usually about me demanding to be heard and loved for who I was at my core. I may not have been as well-read, and I liked 80s music because I was a kid of that generation. I pushed back at every step of the way in our relationship, screaming (often literally) to just be loved for the person deep down. Back then I viewed books and music as window dressing. And in a way that’s what they represent. They’re the goods that pique your interest. I get that today, and only time and experience can teach that lesson. At 21 we think we know the rules. At 41, I realize we’re just making them up as we go along.

As 2014 winds down, I say goodbye to my sweet love. It is not the first, and I know it will not be the last. This goodbye is a thank you in a way, for the gift he gave to the soundtrack of my life. And these songs are for his journey.

I love you Mikey. See you on the other side. One day.

Music Pairing: Trampin’ by Patti Smith

Video: People Have the Power – Webster Hall 12/29/2014

and so, the countdown begins

It’s been a while. I wonder how many times I’ve started a post with that sentence. It feels like quite a few in my mind. The last few weeks feel clear, and a blur, all at the same time. The thing about grief is that it catches up with you at the most inconvenient moments. I was well aware that this is a tender time of year, and yet it still doesn’t make it any easier. Perhaps, the right way of looking at is that it makes me more aware. More conscious that I need to be gentle with myself, that I’ll have to dig deeper to find more patience for our daughters, and that I’ll have to find a way to acknowledge my loss, but not let it get the best of me.

In the weeks I was away from here, I had two interactions with friends that left me feeling misunderstood. And it opened the door to a larger question in my mind, that if some of my closest friends don’t get me, will there ever be someone else who can understand me as deeply as the best friend I lost three and a half years ago. The closeness you develop in an intimate relationship is one that can’t be mimicked by even your closest friends. It’s the innate understanding of what you need, and willing to put your own needs on hold at moments when the weight needs to be carried by one, instead of two. Continue reading »

all in the family

Yes, I know, it’s been a while. I knew time was passing faster than I could keep up. My silence here inspired a few of you to send notes or leave comments wondering if everything is okay. The truth is that I decided to pull back a little at the end of August, just so the girls and I could enjoy our Cape vacation. I needed to disconnect a little, though I stayed tethered a bit to Instagram. Perhaps tethered is the wrong word; that sounds burdensome. I love seeing other people’s lives, and sharing my own, through photos, so you can always check in there if you don’t hear from me over here for a while.

Well, we came back from North Truro on August 30th, and then school started a few days later. After a relatively leisurely summer of waking when we wanted, eating when we were hungry, and going to bed at no particular time at all, well, it’s an understatement to say adjusting to school was a shock (more so for me, than the kids, I think). The girls seemed to settle in as well as could be expected, considering we moved just a few months, their friends are all back in Brooklyn, and they’re now in a new school up here. I’m sure as time passes, we’ll settle into new routines, find new friends, and feel more like we belong, and less like we’re outsiders. If only time was an ingredient we could buy, preferably a “just add water” item. We’d miss the journey, though, and experience has taught me that even the tougher parts of the path make it worthwhile. Continue reading »

18 hours in Philly

“Let me get this straight. We’re driving to Philadelphia for doughnuts.”

That was Isabella’s response when I told her about my road trip plans for the weekend. The sun had scurried behind storm clouds, and raindrops began to dance upon the windshield as we rolled out of Brooklyn. My mind was divided between concentrating on the stop signs and streetlights, and my real reason for driving 95 miles for doughnuts.

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killing time

In the city that never sleeps, where noise is the neighbor you can’t shake, the quiet room at the New York Public Library is an oasis. It’s better known as the Rose Reading Room, and until today, it’d been decades since I found my way there. I remember that list visit clearly, but only in the sense that someone extremely nearsighted can see when they’ve misplaced their glasses. You know, those memories where you find yourself squinting to make the moments come back into focus. Alas, they seem to be buried in a haze, the hopefully important parts sharp enough to recognize. Continue reading »

food for thought

We’ve had some snow here in New York City. Okay, so it’s a lot of snow, and unless you live under a rock somewhere, this isn’t exactly breaking news. What seems to be news to many people around the country now is the fact that there are many children in our great city who rely on the public school system for up to two of their meals a day. The school also provides a warm, safe place for them. Think of it as shelter from the storm, but not the literal storm outside.

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walk lightly in the lives of others

What if for just once we all decided to go about our day only seeking, and sharing, positive messages? If we surrendered the snark and sarcasm, and treated this life not as our stage, but a gift. What if we spent more time thanking the people we love for being in our lives, instead of highlighting their faults? I wonder if we all spent just one day in this manner if it would become contagious. Or as human beings are we predisposed to find fault in our lives, and those of others?

I started reading Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, by Mark Epstein, again recently. This was an important book for M many years ago, when we were going through a rough patch. I think it was given to him, or recommended, by a friend, in his path towards trying to find some inner peace. I’ve yet to make it to the end of the book on this second attempt; my mind may be too set in its Western ways of thinking. Epstein’s emphasis on letting go of looking for answers, and just opening ourselves to the idea of acceptance, is something I don’t agree with, or maybe I just don’t understand it fully, yet.

His words have settled into my subconscious, though, and while I’m not yet capable of applying them to myself, they are obviously affecting the way I see others in my life. Last week I met C in Paris for a few days. We hadn’t talked in ten days, and hadn’t seen each other in two months. The lack of talking was simply because he doesn’t have a cellphone at the moment, and doesn’t see any immediate need to get one. I find it both charming and frustrating that he can disconnect from life so easily. In a way, there’s an old-time romance to it. My problem is that I carry the anxiety deep in my heart that it can all fall apart in an instant. As I walked around Saint Germain, collecting groceries for lunch, I had an epiphany—the key to loving him is to simply accept him “as-is”, and not try to figure him out. As I stood across the street from our apartment, conducting a social experiment of whether a car in Paris will stop for a pedestrian (the answer is no), someone sidled up alongside me, and began speaking in English. So bewildered, and excited to hear my mother tongue, I turned to see him standing right next to me. He had been waiting for me to get into the building since I had the only key. My heart fluttered, a smile washed over my face, and every fear that something happened to him was gone. Ever so carefree, he said “I told you I’ll always find you”, to which I shared my thoughts on the secret to loving him. His eyes lit up, and he said “you figured me out, my dear.”

So, maybe, just maybe, accepting what we cannot understand is the key to understanding it?