Monday, June 12, 2023

All kinds of portals

Here is a picture of a woman going to gray. How long will I embrace the silver, I wonder. This post is a précis of all the posts I’ve wanted to write but didn’t because I’m on deadline. I need to deliver a good portion of the book at the end of this month, seventy thousand of the contracted one hundred thousand words, though I can see now that I will blow right past that. The last ten thousand words have been the hardest to write of the book so far. Perhaps that had to do with our having had house guests and my divided mind as I tried to help our niece set up her own place. 

In the midst of it all, my computer trackpad suddenly gave up the ghost, scaring me witless that the system was about to crash and I’d lose all my research and notes, though the manuscript itself is backed up. I didn’t want to fuck around and find out, and so I swallowed hard and purchased a whole new machine this week. It certainly wasn’t in the budget but it was time; my old laptop was ten years old and I wrote six books on that thing. Now I’ll finish a seventh on the new laptop I got on Friday. My niece came with me to the Apple Store and got me a student discount with her college ID card, which also got us a $150 gift card that I handed over to her. 

Our college grad moved into her new apartment this weekend. We transported her and her boxes to Brooklyn and helped her unpack a bit, then took her and her roommate out to dinner afterward. Our daughter came too, bringing her joy. I have to get back to work now so I'll rely on pictures to tell what went unrecorded this past week, some of it quite weird—that smoky day in New York City when the sky looked like Mars, for example—and some of it wonderful—an avant garde dance performance by Urban Bush Women in an overgrown church garden in Harlem. That photo up top of a neon lit portal is from that extraordinary evening. Don’t miss the spirit levitating in the trees. 

I have the most wonderful daughters. My girl and my son's wife went with my daughter's fiancé’s mother and me to see The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Lorraine Hansberry's last play, currently in revival on Broadway. Set in the Village in the early 'sixties and starring Oscar Isaac and Rachel Brosnahan, it made us all feel like artsy intellectuals with deep thoughts. What an unbound talent Lorraine Hansberry was! We mothers had a lovely time with our beautiful daughters. I grabbed this image of them during intermission.

On Wednesday last, the sky in New York City was filled with ash from fires north of us in Canada. At a certain point, the slant of the sun on the particles turned to air to a bright orange soup, and people I love from all over the planet started texting and WhatsApping me wanting to know if we were okay. One person joked that the sky was so smoky and apocalyptic because hell had to open its doors to admit Pat Robertson, who died that day. Don't speak ill of the dead, they say, so I'll leave it there.

The air quality was so bad that people's throats and eyes burned just from being outside, and N95 masks made a comeback. This was brand new for our city, but with climate change, it likely won't be the last time. Inside our apartment, we kept all the windows closed, but the air purifier wheezed anyway, as if it was experiencing terminal meldown. Welcome to New York, my darling niece.

The con artist in chief was indicted under the espionage act on Thursday. He will be tried in Florida. The case is strong, and anyone else would be facing certain jail, but with this POS there's never any guarantee. The photo is by the talented writer and editor David Friend. He captioned it "Drip ... drip ...." I thought it said everything in one clever image so I swiped it from the gram.

After we moved our niece into her apartment on Saturday, the man and I took the roommates and our daughter out for dinner. The vibe of the place was jumping, music pounding, championship sports blaring from TV screens mounted near the ceiling, hipsters and people too cool for school all around us. "This is why they all move to Brooklyn," I said to my husband. Our newest baby bird is now airborne.

He didn't know I was taking his picture. I think he's cute. We've become the aunt and uncle whose home is now the portal for family members choosing to settle in New York. Aunt Winnie and Uncle Charlie did that for our generation. I lived with them my freshman year at Barnard, before moving into the dorms for my sophomore year. Several other cousins also came through their apartment when they first moved to the city. Now it's our turn. Our niece thanked us profusely for all our support as she got herself together. "Happy to do it," her uncle said. "One day it will be your turn when Harper calls and says 'Auntie Leah, I'm moving to New York. Can I stay with you while I figure it out?'" 

Here is Harper, born three weeks ago to Leah's older sister Leisa, who grew up so close to my two that they call each other siblings. My husband says he can see exactly what is happening in this photo. "Little Harper is busy making her dad her willing slave for life," he laughed, but he wasn't joking.

This was the churchyard that hosted that surreal and deeply affecting performance of the Urban Bush Women's newest offering, "Haint Blu." The performance is a moving tableau, with the audience traveling with the dancers all over the site of the churchyard and rectory and ending inside the church sanctuary, interacting with the movement and music and stories of this journey we have taken on American shores. You just had to give yourself to what unfolded, feeling it in your cells rather than understanding it with your brain.

My man took the photo up top, and he snapped the last two photos as we were leaving. He looked back at the overgrown churchyard that had been the stage for such an uncategorizable performance, and he raised his phone camera. Whatever you feel looking at those last two photos, the dancers evoked that and so much more. I want to go back and experience all of it again.


  1. Your life is filled with so much family love, beauty, artistry, and more love. It is always a delight to see the world through your eyes, even on a smoke-filled day. Thank you for sharing all of this with us.

  2. And this post is a portal to your life- so full and so busy with so much love and beauty and hard, hard work.
    What your husband said about your grandniece and her daddy is absolutely the truth. You can FEEL his heart opening and opening in wonder and love.
    I so often think of your Aunt Winnie and Uncle Charlie, taking all of you in when you speak of the baby birds you provide a safe nest to until they get their own wings. Such a beautiful tradition. I admire you and your handsome fella for all of the love and care you provide.
    I'm glad you got a new Mac and I know you are making it sing. Big love from Lloyd!

  3. Such lovely photos. I'm glad life is going well and you're enjoying it. I love the silver hair, but I'm biased:)

  4. No evil or ornery spirit going any where near all of that blue. What a gorgeous protective evening! You have all the fun! You are so pretty I must say , I am jealous of your hair, too.
    That little Harper baby is so adorable, smiling up at the man who will do her biding forever more.

  5. In addition to your sometimes grateful, sometimes wistful, sometimes hilarious words (Trump is indeed a POS), these photos are stories themselves. Loved this.
    Sorry about the smoke from Canada. It makes my heart ache for my grandkids.

  6. OK, that Pat Robertson joke made me laugh! I'm glad you've caught us up on everything and that you've been able to get out with your kids and other relatives while all this work is still going on. Lorraine Hansberry was a genius who died way too soon. I also need a new computer -- mine is 8 years old -- but I'm pushing it to last another year or two.

  7. Wow! You are a busy woman, Rosemarie! I am glad you take time to renew your spirit with family and friends and theater and adventures. I love your hair and think you are so beautiful!

  8. so much life! embrace the gray. those pictures tell thousands of words.

  9. You are making me look sideways at my iPad. Eep. What marvellous things you have to experience in your huge and vibrant city, even with smoke. (It was pretty horrid here, too. We could see it billowing by on its way to you.)
    We had a great -niece over the weekend, and enough family to dinner that all the leaves had to go into the dining room table. The GN is an amazing young woman; with her doctorate under her belt, she is back at university qualifying for an MD. Awesome.
    We will try to keep the smoke down. Rain, rain, come from away.

  10. Your hair looks beautiful. And so do all of the photos you shared. Even the end of the world the fire next time one. The garden in the church yard is magical. Congrats on continuing the family tradition as the portal to a new life for the younger generation.

  11. I am glad that you got back to the churchyard and the lighting, which intrigued me from the first photo.

    Our days of smoke were local and not the grand infernos that have been occurring elsewhere. Thankfully, they only lasted for a few days, but it looked very much like your smokey photo for a few days.

  12. Good god. I'm glad you're still blogging. I just started again. Those pictures of the performance were goose-bumpy!

  13. Oh my do I have big city envy. The church yard is just incredible. Your lives are so full, with work, and launching the next generation. Good on you all.