Sunday, August 26, 2012

Plastic Universe

A realization: My life is not nearly as interesting to me as my children's lives, and this I will have to remedy. Especially given that my children's lives are no longer very visible to me, which means I can no longer buy into the notion that what happens in their lives is actually happening in mine. Well, it is, but it's happening to them, not me. I am a bystander, a loving one, a very vested one, but my influence on the outcome of events grows ever more remote. I can only pray my husband and I have laid the tapes down deep enough in the grooves of their consciousness, and some of it will guide their choices. They're good kids. They are not perfect or infallible, but well meaning and funny and bright and good-hearted. And now they have to take it from here.

And I have to take it from here, too. There is the floating sadness of missing them, but I notice my husband and I talk more to each other in the evenings, deconstructing politics or our respective days, talking about our children, our families, the goings on at the church where he is a warden and vestry member charged with finding a new priest, the places we want to travel to, all manner of things, and sometimes we just lie side by side, him reading, me watching Netflix on my Fire, the mood easy and companionable and good.

We went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant for our anniversary, an Italian place in the neighborhood where the owner always comes over and kisses us on both cheeks, and the head waiter clasps our hands in his as if he is so happy to see us, and I always tell my daughter that if she opens a restaurant someday, make the customers feel like family they way they do in Bettolono and they'll come back again and again. We lifted our glasses of prosecco and made a toast to another 26 years, and while we were eating both our children called to wish us happiness and after dinner we wandered home holding hands, stopping at the corner store to pick up a battery for the smoke and carbon monoxide detector and life is just like that, the poetic and the prosaic, and I need to pay attention so I won't miss how special it all is while it's happening.

Then last night my friend Janice and I went out for dinner and drinks at a new beer garden in Harlem, and wow, is Harlem changing, it's morphing into the new hip place in the city before our eyes, much like Greenwich Village was when I first arrived in the New York in the seventies. Every description of person was out in that open air courtyard dining and drinking together, and the music was pumping and the night breeze brushed us sweetly and I had an entirely fine time with my friend, two moms newly sprung, out in the city on a late August night. It reminded me somewhat of New Orleans, that park across the street from our hotel where my husband and I would go and eat beignets and drink hurricanes and listen to jazz in the afternoons.

Janice dropped me back home at close to 11, and I came in to our building through the back door, through the basement, and while waiting for the elevator, a flyer on the bulletin board caught my eye. It said:

 "I'm 55. Now What?"

It was advertising a series about reinventing your life after the first phase is well and truly over, with sessions on activism and volunteerism, classes to take, travel itineraries, entertaining, theater workshops, personal memoir and so on. I just stood there looking at it and feeling as if maybe this life is a plastic and malleable thing after all, that we create it moment to moment with our thoughts, desires, needs, investigations, and whatever questions we pose to the universe will set the answers in motion, and right then I decided to sign up for that series and see where it leads. 


  1. Angella, Life and time have become so fluid, no, let me restate that. I've realized that time and life are fluid, rivers whose banks don't contain them, elemental and flowing across us always. Either we create life or it creates itself, moment to moment, with, as you say, our questions. Enjoy your next steps. xo

  2. Oh, Angella. It's exciting, isn't it?

  3. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I can't tell you how much I love reading your writing.

  4. Yes! You are not curled up in a ball of misery, you are going out, you are being with your husband, you are signing up for ideas on the next phase.
    You are inspiring me, Angella! Thank-you for that.
    And believe me- your children are always going to need you. You will always be a part of their lives whether they live with you or not. It is inevitable. It is a continuation, even as things change.

  5. Way to go Angella. meeting life. figuring it out. thinking. planning. all the things we want our kids to do work for us too.

  6. Bravo, Angella --- how perfectly timed and placed, that flyer. Such lovely writing xo

  7. That flyer found you! Please share your adventures and discoveries as they unfold, so I can get inspired here. I'm two years behind you, but asking and wondering all the same things.
    Glad you had such a nice couple of evenings there, especially your Anniversary dinner.

  8. My mouth has dropped open and I am happy for you. I am.

    I can't wait to hear what springs -- and I'm so grateful that you are keeping us here, writing for us, sharing with us your one, beautiful life.

  9. lovely, lovely, posy, dear angella.
    just minutes ago, i watched a YouTube of billie holiday and lester young (it's/would be his b-day today, and the joy and love in the session of the two of them & some other amazing musicians (doing "Fine and Mellow") fits so beautifully with your just takes us with it, if we let it. and oh, the places you'll go...


  10. Things certainly pop into the moment right when you need them - or at least sometimes - which is just enough. you sound like you are on your way to making this life yours. It's hard being in-between. I'm there still with this new city and the strangeness that despite being the same person everything around me has changed. How and when will we adapt? Who knows...