Listen Carefully

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The other day I FaceTimed with son and his wife.

 

We do this once a week since we cannot see each other that much since he lives in NYC and I live in Philadelphia.

 

I text: When FaceTime?

He texts: Around 2?

I text: Ok.

 

2pm comes and I am running late.

I text: I am running late.

He texts: No problem.

 

Soon I am free. I call him up on the FaceTime. When he answers he is sitting in his living room on his brand-new couch next to Wife. We start with the usual check in of: How you been doing, how you been feeling?

 

We talk for a little while and Wife jumps in and says to son, “Aren’t you going to tell her?”

 

See, this is why I like her.

 

I ask, “What? What is it?”

 

Son makes a son face and then tells me, “I got a new job.”

 

Just like that. Just like telling me he had a rock in his shoe or something.

 

“What new job?” I say. “I did not even know you were looking. I thought you liked working at City Harvest.”

 

“It is at the Harlem Children’s Zone.” he says.

 

“Oh! Cool.” I say. “How long have you been looking?” I ask.

 

I am expecting a month or so. I get: Since late fall last year.

 

!!!!

 

Omg. WHY does this son never ever ever never TELL ME ANYTHING?

 

I ask him, “Why don’t you tell me anything.”

 

“Because it was not definite and I did not want to try to answer questions I don’t have answers to.” he says.

 

Son always seems to think I am prodding into his life when I am just trying to be a part of his life.

 

“When do you start?” I ask.

 

“Tuesday.” he says. In his best man-of-few-words voice.

 

“Alright then!” I say.

 

Eventually we move on from the big news. I think: I sure am grateful for Wife. Without her I might have never even known son had gotten a new job. I wish son would be more forthcoming. But I know he is not likely to change.

 

And so, I will have to accept this last-minute kind of news.

I guess it is better than no news.

 

Right?

Yeah.

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City Girl

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The other day I looked at some pictures of houses.

I looked at some picture of houses because Philly and I are thinking of moving into the city.

 

Our address SAYS Philadelphia, but really we are in the suburbs.

I do not enjoy the suburbs.

 

We actually live in the woods. Right near a whole bunch of really large trees and a creek.

Some people would love this situation. But I am lonely here with mostly trees and dogs barking. And having to drive everywhere.

 

I miss the rows of houses and front porches to sit on and navigating all the people walking down the street in the city. Or sometimes just sitting out in the little local city park watching the children play.

 

Or just generally SEEING PEOPLE.

 

I miss the sound of the bus right under my bedroom window and walking everywhere. I miss usable public transportation.

 

If we lived IN the city proper I could use the subway (which only goes in two directions but still). Or take a bus or ride a bike. But not so much from here. Not with my schedule. The subway doesn’t come out here and so one has to take the Regional Rail. This is a train like The Long Island Railroad in NYC. During the day the schedule becomes very thin and spaced out and kind of unusable for Yoga Teaching out and about.

 

And so we are considering moving. But the thought of ACTUALLY moving, the details, the packing up, the displacement in transition, these things make my head spin. I need someone to come and pack up all my stuff and bring it over to the new location. And then I can just show up and put my stuff away.

 

And there is the fact that Philly does not REALLY want to move. He WILL move. But he really does not want to move.

 

I don’t mean to sound grateful. Unappreciative. There is a lot of beauty here. I guess I am just not a woodsy kind of girl really. I prefer vertical living.

 

My friend “G” always tells me, “Move in! I used to live where you live. I was DYING out there.”

 

And I tell her, “I just don’t know if I have it in me right now.”

 

And she says, “You can do it!”

 

Often, I waiver on the whole moving thing. I remember leaving Brooklyn six years ago and how happy I was to finally have a washer and dryer INSIDE the house. And to have a food co-op that wasn’t as crowded as the Brooklyn food coop, which was sometimes insane with crazy NY people. In this co-op I only have to work six hours a YEAR. In Brooklyn I had to work two hours and forty-five minutes every four weeks. That co-op had so many members that often there wasn’t any work to do during your co-op shift. But you still had to do your shift anyway.

 

Daughter says, “Moving is not going to fix your problems.”

 

This is the kind of thing your kids will throw back at you when they have had some therapy and program.

 

“Yes Daughter. I realize that.” I say.

 

I think: For God’s sake. I know what pulling a geographic is. I am not doing that Daughter. Ugh.

 

Son says, “Well you ARE a city girl, mom.”

 

He is right reader. I enjoy the pavement and the crowds and living vertically with everything at my fingertips.

 

Sigh.

I do not have the answer about moving.

So I am waiting.

I am listening for the solution.

 

I hope it comes soon.

Yes I do.

Friends

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The other day I saw Old College Friend.

 

Way back in the 1980’s we went to college together. I don’t remember the last time I saw him, but it has been a long time.

 

Now, Old College Friend is in town.

He texts: Hey there, is this still your number?

I text: Yes, it’s me!

 

We decide to meet the next day after I get out of class for a lunch/brunch. At my house. But I don’t have to cook anything! They are at Reading Terminal Market PLUS Old College Friend’s Husband went to culinary school!

 

I know they will come to my house with delicious food.

 

I am very excited to see them!

 

Next day comes and I go to class. OCF is awake early, because he is always awake early. Husband is still sleeping. We wait for him to wake up for the festivities to begin.

 

I tell Philly, “OCF is coming over!”

Philly says, “Great!”

 

Soon OCF and Husband arrive. OCF looks just the same but older. This is the first time I am meeting Husband. He is very nice and also dashing.

 

They have brought breads and meats and fancy cookies. And probably a few other things I am forgetting. The feasting begins. I make myself a sandwich. After the sandwich I have a piece of rye bread slathered with butter. I forget I am not supposed to eat rye bread because it makes my bladder burn. Reader, I hope that is not TMI. It is the truth.

 

However, I will save that whole situation for another blog.

 

We eat. We talk. We catch up on all the many things that have happened over the years. We talk about September 11. I did not know that OCF volunteered right after 9/11 happened and for a time after that. I got a freelance job in the months after right near the site. For a long time the whole area smelled like burning plastic. And there were guard dogs and men with large guns standing near the entrance to the subways.

 

Many many things have happened since the days of Art School. Our lives have been touched in many ways. OCF has been following my blog! He knows a lot about my life. Still, it is going to take more than this one lunch to REALLY catch all the way up.

 

I say, “We really have to see each other more often.” I am feeling so happy inside being with him.

OCF is in agreement. In fact, while he is here he is going to see another Art School Friend who is showing his work on Governor’s Island.

 

OCF says, “We all are going to get together next weekend. Art School Friend, Art School Friend #2 and Art School Friend #3. Can you come too?”

 

“I have to look at the date book to make sure.” I say.

I really want to go. I hope my calendar is open. It is a little bit of a trip since we have all spread out from the NY School Days.

 

Soon it is time for OCF and Husband to get going to make their train. Before they go I give Husband a little tour of our house.

 

It is decided I will drive them to their hotel. Even though their hotel is pretty big and in the middle of the city, I do not know exactly where it is.

 

I never really know where things are in this town because I rely on that darn GPS. The other day there was road construction in a neighborhood I am unfamiliar with. I was driving around in circle even WITH the GPS.

 

We get to the hotel. OCF and husband hop out.

 

“Bye!” I say.

“Bye!” they say. “See you soon!”

 

I really hope that is true reader.

Yes I do.

Family

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The other day I saw my brother.

I also saw Brother’s Wife and Brother’s kids.

 

All of them come to Son’s wedding. And Brother’s son is the ring bearer.

I mostly only get to see them once a year since they all live in Florida

Really my whole once-New York-family lives there now. Mother, Father, Aunt, Cousins.

 

When I was a younger Violet everyone was together in New York. I remember big family gatherings. Backyard water fights with hoses and sometimes shaving cream. We had fun, yes we did.

 

Brother and Family have come up for the wedding and a little family vacation. You know, take the kids sight-seeing in NYC, take a trip out to the house we grew up in. That kind of stuff.

 

He set up the arrangements for our parents to come up as well. The place he rented is big enough for THE PARENTS to stay with him. He is very generous like that.

 

He is nine years younger than me. It is a lot of years between. When I was eleven he was two. When I was nineteen, he was ten. So we didn’t really have a lot in common at that time. Plus I was a totally out-of-control teenager. My parents pretty much had to give up on rehabilitating me at some point. They even pulled my brother out of public school and put him in parochial school just to ensure he did not go down the same path I did.

 

And they made sure he was involved in sports.

 

Very involved.

 

Brother played hockey. My parents got up and drove him to the ice rink. I remember the very early morning practices. 5AM when his team could get ice time.

 

Now Brother has three kids. They are younger than my kids, but still every time they all get together they are so happy to see one another. It makes me very sad we are not living close to one another. I could go visit Brother and Wife. They could stop by my house. The kids could see each other all the time. When I think about it I feel like a whole part of my life is just missing. Even though we text, it is not the same as being there.

 

Brother’s Daughter’s both play soccer. Daughter #1 plays pre-DA and Daughter #2 plays pre-EXNL which are very elite leagues from what I hear. They are part of US Soccer. I hope I got all those soccer league names right.

 

Son, child # 3, is just getting old enough to start playing sports. I am SURE he will also be very involved. Brother and Wife spend A LOT of time running around doing sporty things. They are also involved in coaching and many activities sporty. They are so busy sometimes, they are like passing ships in the night, just handing the kids off to one another.

 

It is nice now that we are older, Brother and I have finally caught up with one another. Our age difference doesn’t matter anymore. For one, we are both parents. With all the fun that comes along with parenting.

 

Brother and Wife also just bought a new house. I wish I could visit them. I wish I could go over for dinner and see the kids. I would like to hang out with Brother’s Wife and talk, talk, talk.

 

When Brother and family went to the before-the-wedding party at now Daughter-in-laws house he texted me: These people are great!

 

Daughter-in-Law DOES have a pretty awesome family.

 

At the wedding Brother and family had a very good time. It was nice to see them so happy, dancing around. Son #3 came over and asked me to dance.

 

“Would you dance with me?” he asks.

“Yes!” I say and off to the dance floor we go.

 

I see Brother’s Wife dancing.

She says, “This is great!”

I smile at her.

I am also having a very good time.

 

I go back to my table and sit down. This party is really fun, but it is so much more fun because my family is here. I get to see my parents and my sibling and his family, and even some old friends.

 

I miss the days when we were all together.

I do not like this way of living.

Families all split apart.

I miss my family, reader.

 

Yes I do.

Sept 14, 2019

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The other day son got married.

 

I know right? Some of you have been reading this blog since almost the beginning. Ten years ago! Son was just 15 years old.

 

Since the wedding is in NYC, we drive up the day before to we can attend the special blessing gathering at fiancés house.

 

We arrive at our VRBO. Philly, daughter, daughter’s friend and me. We put our things away and hang up our very special gowns for the wedding day. My brother and his family have been here since yesterday doing the NYC tour. My parents arrived late the night before as well. We have planned to meet them out on Long Island to visit my brother’s grave and maybe visit a few of the old haunts.

 

Since it late when we finally get out there all we can really do is go to the gravesite. My brother, his wife and kids and us. It is an emotional moment. I get to mourn my brother’s death with my family. Something I rarely have had the opportunity to do.

 

This has only happened one other time in my lifetime.

 

Later we head over to fiancé’s house. When we get there we find a big beautiful tent set up with lights and everything. Many relatives are there. We are talking and fiancé’s father comes right over and tells us to make ourselves at home. “Ge up! he says. “Walk around, this is not formal!” He is like this, very welcoming. Lots of cousins are there. And fiancé’s mother of course. She is quieter than fiancé’s dad but very funny. You can tell she has a big heart.

 

I see son and I can tell he is so happy.

 

The blessing starts and we sit. Then stand. Then sit. The blessing is for their union. I cry a little. Just a little.

 

I do not know it but apparently I will speak for my son. This involves standing up before the crowd and saying a few words. I am unprepared but I think it goes ok.

 

There is all kinds of food and a special cake that is made for the wedding day. All the aunts make it and then in assembly like fashion it gets cut up into small pieces and place in little boxes with son and fiancé’s name on the box.

 

Fiancé’s mom tells me no Guyanese wedding is complete without this special cake. Fiancé tells me there is rum in it and if you eat two much you will get drunk. She also tells me she is not really a big fan of this particular cake.

 

It is getting late, so we go home. Tomorrow is the big rehearsal dinner.

 

Next day comes and we are going to take it easy since it is the day before the big event. Philly will get together with Wuzzy (can you believe it!) to rehearse a song they will be playing with daughter for the wedding.

 

Later comes and it is time for THE DINNER. It is a chance for parts of my family to meet fiancé. I like the idea but I don’t like the long table set up. Round would better so everyone could talk. We make it work though. People get up and walk around, talking to each other.

 

Afterwards Brother decides to go over to fiancé’s house to hang out more.

He texts me: These people are great!

 

It is getting late and we need to get home because tomorrow is THE WEDDING!

 

I wake up at 6AM excited. I go for a run. I mediate. I do a short practice. Daughter and I have to be at the hair place by 9AM.

 

When we get there the hair festivities begin immediately. I am shown to my chair. Curling starts and then bobby pinning and then LOTS and LOTS of hairspray. I see daughter is going through something similar over on her side of the salon.

 

Now are done but daughter is not happy about her make up. She augments this problem in the car with her own make up. And off to venue we go.

 

Right away I see son for the first time in his suit. And fiancé in her wedding gown. They are having this thing called a first look. Have you heard of this reader? It is when the bride and groom see each other privately for the first time. Not like the old days when the groom did not see the bride until she walked up the aisle. I guess this is in case anyone really has to have a big cry.

 

I cry again. Son is getting married. TODAY.

 

Now we are being hustled around by this well-run organization. Up to the Bridal Room. We put our stuff down. I have brought way too much stuff including 3 extra pairs of shoes, just in case.

 

We go outside where the service will be. We have a few pictures taken. Then it is off to get organized for the lineup for the processional.

 

All of a sudden Friend 1 is standing right in front of me.

“Hi!” I say. I am so glad Friend 1 and Husband could come. Friend 1’s second child was born just five days after son.

 

“Hurry! Go sit.” I tell her. She scurries off to find a seat.

 

Apparently, Wuzzy and I are going to walk down this aisle first. We walk together down the carpet to our seats in front. Slowly the rest of the processional comes along, Bride’s mom and brother, Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, Maid of honor, Ringbearer, Flower girl and finally the Bride and her Father. Bride looks beautiful. Like a fairy really. With a sparkly gown and lacey sleeves. I cry when I see her with her father. Son stands up at the front and waits for her. He walks down a few steps to go and get her from her father. I look at him and all the moments of his life flash before me. How did we get here so soon?

 

The service is beautiful.  Philly videotapes the whole thing. And yes, I cry through the whole thing. Especially as son and almost new wife turn and exchange vows. Vows they have written themselves. I watch them put the rings on each other’s fingers. I look down at son’s hand and I think: Son is wearing A RING! They stand and face us with big smiles right before they walk back down the aisle.

 

Now it is cocktail hour. Since I do not drink cocktails, I run around sampling food instead.

 

When cocktail hour is over, the bridal party and the parents will get announced as we walk into the reception room.

 

Once again, we line up. It is all very fabulous. And crowded. Since New Wife has a big family I estimate 200 people.

 

The usual wedding things happen: First dance of the newlywed couple. New Wife and her dad dance to I loved Her First, by Heartland. Son and I dance to Green Eyes, by Coldplay, which has always kind of been our song since son does have these amazing green eyes. But also little parts of the lyrics: I came here to talk. For all the conversations we had on the purple couch. And of course, the spotlight shines upon you. I touch his face as we are talking and briefly put my head on his shoulder.

 

“I love you son” I say.

“I love you too mom.” he says.

 

I go back to my table. Every time I return to my table there is a new plate of food on it. There are speeches. Even I make a speech although I did not know I was going to be making a speech. Son tells me he mentioned this to me but I do not think he did tell me or I would have had something prepared. Anyhow, once again I think it worked out ok.

 

People start dancing. Dinner comes out and people stop dancing. Then people start dancing again.

 

Soon out rolls the dairy-free, nut-free cake. The cake cutting happens. The feeding each other happens. They are both way too polite to take a huge piece of cake and shove it at each other.

 

And now the dancing REALLY gets started. LOTS of dancing. All the kids in my family are having a great time. And me too. Many different types of music are played. Some is music from brides’ culture, Guyanese: Soca and Calypso. It is very, it is very fun to dance to.

 

My feet are starting to really hurt now. I need to take a break. When I sit down I find out it is already late and soon the celebration will be over. I walk over to say thank you to Bride’s parents, the hosts for such a beautiful wedding.

 

I think some people are going back to the Bride’s house. I don’t know how they do it! I am pooped. This is like a five day wedding. Tomorrow once again there will be an open house gathering at the Bride’s house.

 

Son and Daughter-Law.

And all of their friends and family surround them.

 

And so the new chapter of son’s begins.

He is a husband. She is a wife. They are a couple.

 

May they stand upon solid ground with their Higher Power guiding them, with communication, with commitment, forgiveness, love, honesty, trust passion and compassion.

 

May they be happy.

May they be healthy and strong.

May they be peaceful.

 

The Visit

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Today I went to Brooklyn to see Friend 1.

 

I wake up early to get ready. I am excited. While I will be in Brooklyn I will also go to my favorite meeting and see my favorite Brooklyn haircutter.

 

I gather some supplies and off I go.

“Bye!” I say to Philly. “Bye!” Philly says back.

 

It seems like hardly any time has passed and I am in NYC already. As I walk towards the subway I am comforted by the old familiar subway smell and the sound of the squeaky subway brakes.

 

I hop on. I decide to take the A train to Jay Street and transfer to the F, which will get me very close to my meeting and the corner where I will find Friend 1.

 

When I get out I am on the corner of 9th Street and 7th Avenue.

I text Friend 1: I’m here. Where are you?

Friend 1 texts: I am on 9th Street.

 

But that is where I am.

 

Then suddenly I see her across the street! It’s Friend 1!

 

YAY YAY!

 

I cross the street to meet her. We give each other a big hug. I have missed her soooo much.

 

“Where should we go to eat?” I ask. “I don’t think we have time before the meeting to really eat. Maybe we can just get a snack.”

 

“Ok.” she says.

 

We get our snack and begin to walk down the avenue towards our meeting. When we walk into the room, I see many faces. New faces, old familiar faces. And I smell the musty smell of one of the first rooms of recovery I walked into 18 years ago.

 

Luckily for me it is a speaker meeting! I love speaker meetings. I love the stories. I love how people relate. It is a big room. Maybe 50 people in it. People share. I just listen. In every share I hear something beautiful, something useful.

 

At the end of the meeting we form a big, big circle around the room, holding hands and saying the serenity prayer. I look up at all the faces. I think: Together we recover

 

New Friend is there but I do not really get to talk to him. His dog is sick and he needs to get going. We have a short conversation and say, “See you next time!”

 

It is raining when we get out of the meeting. Sadly, we have no umbrella. We get wet.

 

We walk down to the Japanese restaurant. I am excited to get a Bento Box from one of my favorite restaurants.

 

I don’t know why, but I am spazzing out with the chopsticks. This does not usually happen to me. I try for a while and then I give up, hang my head and ask for a fork.

 

We sit. We talk. We talk about husbands, and chuckers vs. pilers. Friend 1 is a piler. She likes to have a lot of stuff around her. Like a little nest. Papers, random items. You get the picture. I am a chucker. Clutter makes me anxious. So, I chuck. Sometimes when no one is watching.

 

Soon it is time to part. We give each other a big hug and say, “See you soon, see you at wedding!”

 

And now it is time for my haircut. Haircutter is happy to see me. Haircutter says, “Your hair is beautiful!” and he flips it around a little.

 

I wonder if he says this to everyone.

 

He shampoos me HIMSELF and begins the cutting.

When he is done, I tell him, “I love it!”

 

“Thank you!” I say as I roll around in the chair to see the back.

 

And now more walking in more rain to the F train which will take me towards my home in Philadelphia.

 

It’s a mixed bag. My trip.

 

I miss my old town. I miss the people. I miss seeing Friend 1. I miss the concrete. The subway smell, and the 63 bus I could hear from my corner apartment.

 

I make a little promise to self: I will come back again soon.

I will not wait so long to visit my Brooklyn Friends.

 

But for now I say goodbye.

Goodbye Brooklyn.

Goodbye Friend 1.

See you soon!

18 Days

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Today makes 18 days until Son’s wedding.

A part of me cannot believe this is really happening.

 

Of course, I am happy for him.

But a part of me knows this is one more let go.

 

My mind goes through Son’s life: What a quiet baby he was, a baby that grew into a quiet young man. Soccer games, baseball games, basketball games. Eventually in high school, cross country running, drum paying and Ultimate Frisbee.

 

Ultimate Frisbee. The place he met his soon-to-be wife.

 

It wasn’t long after meeting they became boyfriend and girlfriend. Coincidentally, it was right around the date Philly and I wound up getting married.

 

Their relationship grew and grew. I watched her always be there for him, taking care of his anaphylactic allergies, making him a better person for knowing her.

 

I could tell she loved him deeply.

And I could tell he felt the same, talking more to her than he ever spoke to anyone. Buying her little gifts. Paying attention.

 

When the time was right son accepted the ring his father gave me, to pass on to her.

Although son being son, he held onto it for a while and would not tell me when he was going to ask her to marry him.

 

Turns out it was Valentine’s Day. In the Brooklyn Apartment. I am not sure if he got down on bended knee. But I bet he did.

 

And now, close to a year and a half later, they will marry. What started out to be a small civil ceremony has grown into a large celebration. In just 18 days he will wear a suit, and she a beautiful dress and they will stand together and share vows.

 

I almost cry just writing this.

This next stage of his life.

Into the arms of his wife.

 

I wish you all the best son.

I am so happy for you both.

 

May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you have deep love and commitment, may you have compassion, passion and trust.

 

Always

Always.