Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wishing to Realize a Fantasy

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

If We Visited My Parents' Friends, Then My Father (z"l) Was Not Dead

It was my fantasy. If my mother and I drove three hours plus, we could reach a place, where my father of blessed memory (z"l) was still alive. A place with lots of leaves and people who seemed part of their land, rather than guests of it. A place where I could hear my father's voice, which is only faint to me now. A place, where my father and I were relative giants once I was no longer little, and which was full of pleasant surprises. A place, where perhaps no one remembered me well because I was the youngest and the younger ones always remember the older ones more than vice versa.

The Gently Painful Reality

Yesterday, the station wagon arrived at the white-clapboard house with its stone-slab steps. My mother was in the passenger seat as usual. My father (z"l) wasn't driving it, though, and his daughters weren't clambering restlessly around the back-seat and the way-back. It was just my mother and me.

Maybe my dad would be there already.

Last time we visited, I didn't even have a driver's license.

"Station Road. You just passed it," my mother said.

"Potter Road is what the GPS is telling me, not Station."

"I remember it was Station."

My mother remembered everything, too.

We got out of the car and saw that the party was down a mini nature-trail, in a clearing in the distance. My mom looked hopeless. "I can't make it down there [with my walker and bad back]."

"We'll ask the Gaineses to come up here."

"We can't expect them to leave the party they're hosting, Sarah."

"Well, let's at least go to the bathroom now."

I got my mother's walker out of the way-back, and she looked up at the house in despair. "I can't make it up there."

I had been the father, driving us to the Gaineses, and now, I was the mother. All I came for was to be the kid again, with two parents.

"I'm sorry, Mom, but I've gotta go," I said without making eye-contact.

A new, pleasant surprise: Two young boys appeared and said they would help us. I asked the older one to lead me to the bathroom inside the house.

"Here's the downstairs one," he told me, and as I walked toward it, I saw three horses in stone or cement relief on the wall and remembered them from when I was a kid. Nothing else other than the layout of the house was familiar.

When I emerged, I saw my mom sitting in the foyer, like magic; she had gotten herself up the steps -- or had the boys helped her?

And then more magic: My mom rolled slowly down to the clearing in the woods. My parents' friends, their youngest daughter and her musical husband -- who were the parents of the two sweet boys -- and several other friends were there, but my father wasn't...and my mother was, thank God.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

B'nai Mitzvah, Turtlebacks, Moonbeams and the Jets

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

"No, they won't have a moment of silence at one o'clock, Sarah; they want people to order food and drinks, not lose their appetite." Pat told me this on the way to the restaurant, where we met our friends Felice & Stacy. Pat was right, as usual.

While waiting for our food, we talked of where we were that day. Me: in Manhattan, at 590 Madison Ave., till my Boca-Raton-based manager at the time sent me an instant message, telling me to leave the building immediately, as he worried that whoever had destroyed the World Trade Center would keep going after U.S. landmarks, and even if they didn't want to blow up our IBM building, we were next to the Trump Tower, which he thought could become a target. I talked of how I saw the dark cloud in my rear-view mirror the whole way up Madison Ave., and how parents were rushing across my path at red lights, holding their kids' hands -- the kids who they went to get from their schools -- and how it seemed that all of us made eye-contact....

In May, I posted a collection of several years' worth of commemorative blog-entries, but never did gain the energy to post screenshots of 2002-2006 entries. And I'm not going to re-read any of the entries today.

Living in Metro-NY, we've had a ton of coverage, and even our twin nephews' bar mitzvah remarks referred to 9/11, since they became b'nai mitzvah (plural of bar mitzvah) on 9/10/yesterday. They were just three years old when the Towers went down, but the tragedy touched their special day in any case.

On the way home from the celebration, heading toward the Midtown Tunnel, Pat & I saw a number of commemorative billboards, including this one:

Tonight, it's a full moon and I'm glad I can see moonbeams, but no longer the twin-beams from NYC, since the backyard trees have grown fuller over the past 10 years. Today, I was determined to have a life-affirming time, which we did by going to the zoo with Stacy & Felice after lunch. Here I am on a lizard sculpture:
Even so, I made sure to take my cellphone with me today, just in case, and found myself extremely anxious as I watched the start of the Jets-Cowboys game, where the whole crowd was chanting, "USA! USA! USA!..." Please, don't provoke them, I said to myself and then turned to Pat and said, "You know that I've always thought that if terrorists wanted to do further monumental damage, they'd blow up a football stadium full of top teams and fans. God forbid!" It hasn't happened, and God willing, it won't. Pat & I swam this morning, spent time with friends and animals, watched football, and now, we're tired. Please, God, keep this 10th anniversary of 9/11 safe.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Same As It Ever Was

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

...Only More Satisfying

Last week, while Pat & I were vacationing in Alaska, our niece Zoe started her first year of college. In these days of Black Eyed Peas, Katy Perry and Fountains of Wayne, may she find life-long friends and suffer minimal turbulence while living apart from her parents and brothers for the first, real time. Zoe's milestone vividly takes me back to the days of Talking Heads, Madonna, Al Jarreau and Laurie Anderson, i.e., my freshman year, especially because Pat & I ended our trip with a couple of days of vacationing in Vancouver with two of the first friends I made in college.

Lisa, Marni and Sarah at the Vancouver Public Library

When I began college 28 years ago, I couldn't imagine affording an Alaskan vacation, nor that I would wed a woman. Still, as extraordinary as both events would have been to my 18-year-old mind, not so much about me has changed since then, other than seeming more relaxed. Lisa and Marni confirmed this for me. They're right. I am more at ease, since revealing a number of secrets.

The review of Wendy Wasserstein's biography that I read in last Sunday's "New York Times" reminded me of openness vs. secrets. As a sophomore, during a Women's Studies course, I read Wendy Wasserstein's play, "Uncommon Women and Others." The play focused on a post-college reunion by a group of female college friends.

As I read it, I found it comforting to see their post-grad development combined with effectively muscle-memory conversations with one another, as though they had never parted company. When I read the NYT review, the critic honed in on how, for all her wide-open writing, Wendy Wasserstein was a pretty secretive person when it came to her own life, e.g., not telling people that she was dying, plus some other earlier family secrets.

Don't many of us try to keep secrets? In college, mine were that I was more attracted to women than men; had an eating disorder, where I binged whenever I could; and also a number of family secrets that were my family's to tell, not mine. It never occurred to me that my friends probably had their respective collections of secrets as well.

Who knows what Zoe's secrets are? Or her friends'. I just pray that she can have the same warm, funny, challenging, healing, fun, earnest, sad, buoyant, hopeful time as Wendy Wasserstein's characters, Marni, Lisa and I had when she reunites with friends post-college.