Sunday, June 23, 2019
My aunt Grace, the last surviving of my mother's five sisters and three brothers, was in the hospital in Toronto this week. She's 93 on her next birthday in August, and fluid is collecting around her heart. She's back home now, and her daughter who lives in Nassau flew to be with her. She told me this morning that she's decided to give up her apartment in Toronto at the end of the year and live with her daughter in Jamaica, visiting with her daughter in Nassau sometimes. Both her girls live in large, airy, art-filled and beautifully appointed homes with pools and manicured grounds and views, and she has a dedicated space in each place. I had often wondered why she preferred her two-bedroom apartment in Toronto. It was the independence of course. She has many friends in Canada, people of all ages whom she calls her angels. But now, the fact that she is moving in with her daughter says so much about how she is feeling. Are you in pain, I asked her. Of course, she said. All the time. But it's just pain. Her voice sounded like music as she said it. There is always a smile in her voice when she speaks, which breaks into a full laugh that sounds like the tinkle of wind chimes. I believe her determined optimism is the secret of her high-functioning longevity. She has many medical issues, yet she moves through the world as if they are minor considerations. She keeps on.
I dreamed of my Aunt Winnie last night, my mother's oldest sister, the one who lived across the courtyard from me in New York, and for whom I was the primary caregiver at the end. The dream was so vivid. I walked into a room and she was standing there. She looked wonderful, the way she looked when she used to visit us in Jamaica in the summers when I was growing up. Aunt Winnie! I said with a rush of joy. She opened her arms and I stepped into them, and she folded me close, and I rested my head on her shoulder, and felt comforted. That was it, the whole dream. I woke up right after wondering my time was at hand, and Aunt Winnie was coming to get me. But it didn't feel that way. I kept thinking about Aunt Grace, and that I should call her. I shared the dream with her when we spoke this morning, and she said, Winnie came to tell you she's coming for me soon. No need to rush things, I told her. My dear, she said, I am in no rush, but I am ready.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
I went to dinner at that restaurant with two dear friends last night. We dined on the sidewalk, right where the waiter is clearing that table. It was a perfect summer evening, the air clear and soft like a caress, not too cold, not too humid.
Here's something ironic. I went downtown yesterday for a meeting with the new boss lady of the magazine I do editing for on a freelance basis. A magazine I worked with for many years full time. They laid me off during a cost cutting period in 2013. Truthfully, I was devastated, though it turns out to have been a good development for me. Last year, after the editor in chief who laid me off was laid off herself (magazine publishing can be a brutal business) they called me and asked if I would top edit for them, one issue at first, and then it turned into an extended relationship, month after month, issue after issue, steady and paid. Best of all, I could work from home. Yesterday, the new boss lady asked me to come back to the magazine full time and run the editorial operation on the print side. I can't, I told her, I do book collaborations now. (This woman is ridiculously pretty in person, by the way. Even though she looks stunning in her photographs, they don't begin to do her justice. It's kind of mesmerizing looking into her face. You wonder how anyone can be that beautiful.)
I was thinking how life is so weird and circular. For now, my freelance gig continues, except she asked that I come into the office once a month to go over the story lineup and give my input, rather than everything coming to me blind at the end. This I did agree to do, though I will have to take care that it doesn't turn into something more. The office is on the other end of the city, in far Brooklyn. Since I take cabs everywhere (my wonky hip) I'll go broke going there more often. Plus, I still have to get the book work done.
In other news, we almost went to war with Iran this week. What the fuck? Trump had actually ordered the strike and then changed his mind. I don't know what reasoning prevailed but I do know it wasn't his concern for the Iranians who would have died in the attack, as he said. He must think we're idiots who will buy that crap, when he goes to court to deny children in for-profit concentration camps on the southern border basic sanitary needs like toothbrushes, soap, sufficient food, blankets, clean clothes, medical care, legal oversight, and basic protection from being abused.
In better news, my daughter and my niece, two adventurous Aries women, went kayaking on the Hudson River this afternoon. Their plan is to end the day at a winery downtown. Oh, to be young an footloose. As for me, I will be chained to my computer from now until July 15, trying to meet my writing deadline. I've hired my niece to transcribe my interviews with my book subject and her circle. I pay her exactly what I pay my regular transcriber, except I enjoy paying it to her much more—family economics is a lovely thing. And if anything on the tape is unclear, she just plays that part back to me and I tell her what was said, with the result that I now get one hundred percent perfect transcripts with no [UNCLEAR]s. After transcribing each tape, she invoices me for the work, and I remit payment right away. The two of us might be sitting at the dining table, but it's all very official.
I don't really have very much of interest to share. I've been feeling kind of dull, like I need to do something spectacular like travel somewhere exciting and have an experience. But really, even though it's Saturday, I need to get back to work.
Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Then on Sunday, for Father's day, my husband decided he wanted nothing more than to have everyone around, enjoying a slow aimless day, and so that's what we did, the six of us who slept here, plus my daughter and her guy. My son joined us later after his shift at the firehouse. My husband rose before the rest of the household and made us four kinds of scones—vanilla raisin, tangerine, cheddar and jalapeños, and shallots and parmesan—and oh my God they were delicious! We all kept going back to them all day. He also made us passion fruit bellinis with a raspberry garnish, which were also yummy. He did all these things for us on his day. Though he would not cooperate with our attempts to pamper him or my attempts to take pictures, still, he was the center of all the love, "Uncle Dad," as my niece (below) called him. We ate and drank and did puzzles and chatted and watched World Cup Women's Soccer and dozed and it was perfect. I love my family. And I don't take this state of grace for granted.
Here's a picture of me taken in the rooftop bar with the good light. A picture of myself that I actually don't mind. And below it, a good message for this day (given my previous post). All our guests left last night, and my husband and niece are at work, so the house is quiet with just me today. I just might stay in my indoor blue kaftan all day.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Happy 70th anniversary to my wonderful parents. This photo above was taken in 1994, the year my daughter was born, and on the morning after she walked across the den of their home in St. Lucia for the first time. It was Christmas morning, the second to last one my dad would spend with us. Though we didn't know it yet, his cancer, which had been in remission for almost a decade, had already returned, quietly infiltrating his spine. This is one of my favorite photos of my parents, an uncomplicated happy memory, when our babies were little, and everything was in a good place for a tranquil moment in time. My dad was 71 and my mom almost 73 in this photo. I reflect often that truly I am among the lucky ones, to have been raised by these two, who were deeply and romantically and playfully in love with each other until their last breath, and I imagine, wherever they are, even now. There they are on their wedding day, June 11, 1949, below.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
My husband went down to the flower district bright and early this morning to choose blooms for his altar arrangements for Pentecost service tomorrow. He's very thoughtful about his arrangements, choosing birds of paradise to represent the Pentecostal tongues of flame, for example, and setting them off with red ginger lilies, which connote fiery passion and limitless prosperity in the etymology of flowers. I love these slow Saturday mornings when my man is patiently arranging his blooms and stems in our kitchen. After he's done, they sit majestically on our counter till late afternoon, when he transports them to the church, waters them anew, and sets them on the altar. I married a church man. Sanctuary arrangements are his art.
Photo: Street art on the wall of Freemans Alley, New York City.
That's my niece, my other daughter. Isn't she pretty with her day 2 hair? She and her husband moved to Dallas and I miss them. But they'll be back in New York this Thursday to attend yet another wedding. All their crew are getting married, it seems. Last night she took her cousin Dani (who now lives with us and is starting to feel like my third daughter) and me on a Facetime tour of their new apartment. So shiny and spacious and fancy. With a view of the pool. People live so well in other parts of the country, unlike in New York, where space is at a premium and a bit of grunge is the norm. They say they're only there for a couple of years, but I suspect the ability to stretch a dollar so much farther than is possible in New York, and the comparative ease of life away from this concrete hustle, may seduce them to stay. At least when they visit New York now they bunk with us. We've actually seen them more often since they moved away from the city than when they lived here. Still. Last night, after we got off our Facetime call, my husband said, "When are we going to Dallas?"
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Tut's Notes from the Universe are delivered daily to my inbox. Some of you know Tut. I've quoted his unironically optimistic messages here before. This morning, he shared this idea of our earthly school:
Substitute the word souls for angels and this just might be my theology, or at least some part of it, even if it does seem right now that collectively, we souls might be moving backwards.
My son just called. He's getting off from a 24 hour shift at the firehouse and is coming over to hang here as he's supposed to meet up with a friend in the city tonight. I know he will turn on the TV and promptly fall asleep on the couch, and it will feel peaceful and good to see him there, and I will walk by from time to time and kiss his head.