I am a Millennial

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This weekend son visited from Brooklyn.

And now since daughter doesn’t live here anymore, daughter visited too.

 

It is Saturday and we are driving to daughter’s new home so son can see her new place. And also so son can see what one’s money can buy here in Philadelphia as opposed to NYC.

 

We arrive at the daughter home. It is a nice building in a not-so-great neighborhood. Daughter shares this building with one roommate. It has two floors and a basement. It also has a washer and dryer in the apartment. Son is impressed.

 

“Do you like it?” daughter asks son.

“Yes.” son says matter-of-factly. “You have floors.”

 

It really is kind of a big deal to have multiple floors when you are from NYC. Son lives on one floor.

 

We finish the tour and head out. We are meeting friends and going to see another FRINGE FESTIVAL show. This one is Improv. I am very excited because I myself am thinking of taking an Improv class.

 

On the way there Teacher Friend texts me: I saved you seats.

I text: Thank you!

 

Gardener Friend is in attendance. She has also already arrived. It is really because of her I even know about this show. She is good with the happenings.

 

We walk in and the show is about to start. It is called FEEL. The audience will participate by writing how they are feeling on index cards. We put the index cards in a basket on the stage.

 

And the show begins! The actors come out and start reading the cards and acting them out. My card gets selected! Everyone knows it is my card because it says something about missing daughter.

 

I look down the row of chairs to son and daughter. I am happy to see them smiling.

 

A lot of cards are read. The actors are very funny. A card gets read that I am pretty sure is son’s card because it talks about his work performance review which is really quite late.

 

“Tell me which one is yours!” I say.

“No.” he says.

“I know it’s the work one!” I say.

“Yes.” he says.

 

When they read Teacher Friend’s card she tells me, “That’s mine!”

 

Next we all go eat at the Japanese restaurant, which is usually the safest bet for son with the milk and nut food allergies. We sit in a cozy booth. We talk. It is nice to eat with friends.

 

We make our way home not too late. The son and daughter decide to pay Egyptian Rat Screw. I believe we have discussed this game here before reader. It is a very fast card game with lots of table banging. It is not my favorite.

 

I am the first one out. This is fine with me.

Daughter wins! Woo! This is great since son is the usual family game winner.

 

Next son brings down his new book, Fear, By Bob Woodward. Philly happily leafs through it.

 

Son goes into the kitchen and retrieves a fork from the utensil drawer.

“Mom.” he says. “This is not clean.”

“Are you surprised?” I ask. Because I am not known as the family cleaner. I don’t know what it is reader. I just don’t enjoy really thoroughly washing items in the sink.

 

Next son decides to help me organize my phone! I am starting to fade but I force myself awake for this exciting event. I did not even realize you could make FOLDERS on your phone!

 

“Mom.” son says. “You have like a zillion apps.”

“I know.” I say. “I don’t know why.”

Because I really do not understand how I wound up with so many of these apps.

 

Son begins the organizing. Sliding one app on top of another. Making folders. Naming things. Before you know it, everything fits on one screen!

 

“Wow!” I say. “It is amazing how you did that!”

“Well,” he says. “I am a Millennial.”

 

(—–)

 

Now it is bedtime. I am having a hard time peeling myself away from the daughter and the son.

“How much longer are you staying?” I ask daughter.

“Not very much longer.” she says.

 

I feel a little better. I do not wish to miss too much you know.

I say my goodnights and I pad up to bed.

It is a good feeling climbing into bed knowing your children are in the house.

Even if they are grown.

 

The feeling is the same.

Yes it is.

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Fringe

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The other day I attended a dance party.

 

I did not know about the DANCE PARTY. Garden Friend told me about it. The Dance Party is part of The Philadelphia Fringe Festival. The Festival lasts several weeks and there are lots of arty things you can do. Some of them are even free!

 

“Yes.” GF says. “It happens every year on the steps of the Museum. You should get tickets.”

 

GF is already planning on going. Since I am looking for things to do, AND I really love to dance, I get tickets.

 

When Saturday comes it is rainy.

I text GF: Will DANCE PARTY still happen if it is raining?

She texts: I don’t know.

 

I wump. I want to go to dance party.

Luckily for me, the rain stops.

 

“YAY!” I say to Philly. “Let’s go!”

 

And so we do. We drive down Kelly Drive and find a parking spot. Mostly in Philadelphia you can actually FIND a parking spot. Unlike Brooklyn.

 

We walk to the Art Museum steps.

 

The bottom of the steps are all set up like a stage with big speakers and everything. We grab a seat on a step and wait for the show to start.

 

Meanwhile, GF is trapped in an UBER somewhere in midtown. She is going to be late.

She texts: I will just find a corner when I get there.

 

Not too long and the dancers come out. I am not sure WHAT to expect reader. Turns out a whole throng of dancers come marching out. I think there are over 100 of them. All regular people, not professional dancers. All dressed in different homemade costumes. All expressing their identities. I think they are beautiful.

 

Now, the music starts! The dancers begin. They are going side to side and twirling, marching back and forth and waving their arms in the air. I am wishing I were dancing. I think: Next year. Next year I do it.

 

I get a text from GF with a picture of me: I see you!

The show lasts about half an hour. I Shazam a few good songs for my YOGA PLAYLIST. When it is over the audience is invited to join the dancers on the floor for an open dance party. GF walks to join us on the steps.

 

“Do you want to dance?” I ask.

“Ok.” she says.

We pull Philly out there too.

 

Woo! Now I am dancing in the sun! I wave my arms in the air and a big happy smile crosses my face.

 

Some dancers and doing THE HUSTLE. Some dancers are doing Line Dancing. I am just happy to be free dancing, right here, right now.

 

In fact, I do not really wish to stop. But things are winding down and GF has to go meet a friend, and I think Philly is done dancing now.

 

Before we head to the car we find the person with the clipboard to sign up for next year’s event. I put down my name and email address.

 

We start to walk back towards the car. While we are walking back we notice traffic has stopped. Traffic has stopped because THE NAKED BIKE RIDE is about to come through. Yes reader, you read that right. Naked Bike Riding.

 

And…here they come! Some with painted bodies. Some with partial costumes. And some just totally naked. Philly puts out his hand to hi-five a few riders.

 

I think: Who started this tradition?

 

Eventually we make our way to the car and debate where to go to eat. It has been a fun day and I am hungry. On our drive I think about the dancers. I think about the bike riders. I think about dancing next year.

 

And then I think: It has been a good day. A very good day.

 

Yeah.

 

The Shoes

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The other day we went to the Sporting Good Store.

Have you ever been to the Sporting Goods store reader?

It is a big store with all kinds of stuff for camping and cycling, running and paddling the river.

It contains A LOT of items.

 

We go into the Sporting Goods Store to look for bike shoes for me. Philly rides and now that we have some extra time with daughter moved out and all, we have decided to start riding together.

 

This will take some adjusting since the second bike does not exactly fit me and needs some tweaking. Plus I need shoes. And gloves. I did not know I needed gloves but apparently I do.

 

We walk in. I am immediately overwhelmed by the amount of items. Tents and big Stand Up Paddle Boards. All kinds of really expensive gear and clothing. Carabiners. Many types of clothes that wick moisture away from you.

 

It is not cheap. One could easily spend hundreds of dollars here. Maybe more.

 

I go to the shoe area. I find a pair of shoes on sale! Luckily, they have my size. I can’t believe my good fortune.

 

“Look!” I say to Philly. “They are BLUE!”

“How do they feel?” he asks.

“Good!” I say.

 

We meander over to the glove area. I feel so extravagant. I pick out a pair of gloves with a blue stripe to match my shoes.

 

We continue through the store. There are backpacks. Special riding shorts. Sporty undergarments. Blow up mattresses and all kinds of special lighting for camping.

 

Secretly I wish I liked camping. I have tried reader. I just do not seem to sleep when I go camping. Which makes it less than fun.

 

Philly is looking at the backpacks. He finds a small red backpack.

“Cute!” I say. “You should get it!”

We will need it for our new adventures.

 

I can tell we better get out of here because we are starting to get STORE MEZMERIZATION. You know, when you just keep finding one more thing you need that you did not need before you stepped into the store.

 

“We better get out of here.” I say.

“Yes.” he says.

 

We go to pay. When we get our total it rolls off the tongue of the cashier like he has said it a million times.

 

I say, “Really? Wow. OK.” Because it is more than I expected.

 

Good thing we made our way towards the door when we did.

 

Still, I am grateful we were able to purchase these items. And that I will get to spend some time with Philly in the great cycling, hiking Philadelphia outdoors.

 

Yes I am.

The Walk

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Today I went to the beach.

I went to the beach with Philly and daughter because we are on a mini-vacation, DOWN THE SHORE.

 

Yes I said it.

 

When I wake up I hear seagulls. I ask Philly, “Want to run?”

“Ok.” he says.

And we go for a run on the boardwalk. It is just light now and shimmery and there is hardly anyone around.

When we are done I get a GIANT coffee.

 

We go back to our little apartment where daughter is sleeping. She is leaving us tonight. She was supposed to stay on until Friday but now she wants to go back to her new “moved out” life, and get some time in with friends before school starts.

 

I feel disappointed.

But I understand.

 

Next I go back to the beach for YOGA ON THE BEACH! This is not to be missed toes-in-the-sand, breathing in, breathing out. The Teacher brings a giant GONG with her and in svasana we all get a gong sound bath.

 

Can I say how much I love this?

 

Now it is back to the house to gather the family to go lay on the sand and go in the water. It is my THIRD trip to the shore today and it is only 11AM!

 

This is great!

 

We lay out the blanket which has little stakes that fit through loops to hold it down. This is good since it is so windy. We lie down.

 

Soon daughter says, “I am hot. Let’s go in.”

“OK!” I say.

 

And we walk down to the water and walk softly into the sea. While I am in there I ask Mother Ocean to wash all my troubles away. I know she is big enough to take them.

 

We go back and bake in the sun for a while. Philly is resting. I ask if he minds if I take a little walk with daughter along the shore.

 

“Go ahead.” he says.

And so we do.

 

We walk along the shoreline. I keep accidentally walking in deeper to the water and struggling against the surf.

Daughter laughs.

“Come over here Mama.” she says.

 

We are walking. We are talking. About her leaving today and about her feelings of school starting. About her worries. And mine.

 

I am looking at her face as she speaks, shining in the sun, a little window to her soul.

 

Soon it is time to turn around.

As we do I pause.

Because I want to remember right now.

This time of transition for daughter and I as we come to week three of her living in her own place.

 

This day.

This beach.

This walk.

 

Today.

The Party

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Last night I went to a party at Gardner Friend’s House.

 

It is a perfect party for me because it begins early at 7PM, which means I can get a few good hours in before I turn into a pumpkin.

 

It is 6:30PM. I tell Philly, “Let’s go!”

We get into the KIA and drive to South Philly where Gardner Friend lives. I like her neighborhood. I would like to live there.

 

“Hello!” we say as we walk in the door.

We are the first to arrive.

“Hello!” she says. And I get a hug.

 

Not too long and people begin to arrive. First in the door is Veterinarian Friend. Turns out she is finishing up school. We talk for a while about her research.

 

I am not sure who is next because a bunch of people arrive in a row. People are bringing homemade dishes and placing them in GF’s new kitchen, which is very fabulous. There are salads and dips and even truffles.

 

I sit down to eat some salad next to Theater Friend. TF does Improv and a bunch of other things. She has her own company. I am very interested in all the things she is telling me. Plus she is very nice and makes me laugh.

 

Across from us is Superintendent Friend. SF used to be a teacher, then a Principal, then a Superintendent. He has done a lot of things. He even started a school in the jungle.

 

I think: People really have such rich lives.

 

I walk over towards the truffles just as Teacher Friend shows up.

“YAY!” I say. “You made it before I left!” And I laugh.

I have known Teacher Friend since before I moved here. I met her at the Buddhist Center through Philly. We have the same birthday.

 

I get a truffle. It is amazing. I get another one. Equally as amazing.

 

Now there are even more people who have arrived. One woman has brought a beautiful salad. I can tell just looking she is a cooker. Gardner Friend says, “Oh yes. She is a cooker.”

 

I cannot tell what the salad has in it but it is very, very good. I taste mint and maybe pickled something. There are corn and cucumbers. It doesn’t matter that I was just eating truffles.

 

Philly is talking to two flight attendants in the back of the fabulous kitchen. I walk over.

“Your job must be exhausting.” I say.

“Can be.” they say.

We talk about their work. Turns out sometimes they fly five times a day!

OMG

“You must be so dehydrated!” I say.

“Yes.” they say.

 

Since it has stopped raining some people have gone out into the garden. I think I smell something funny out there but I am not sure. I decide to stay inside anyway.

 

I start talking to Writer Guy. Writer Guy is telling me about a Rooftop Party that happens every Wednesday night in the summer. People gather on the roof and just tell stories and hang out. This makes me REALLY want to live in the city.

 

Gardner Friend walks over and says she has been writing again since she has been going to the rooftop party.

 

“I want to go!” I say.

“Come on down!” they say.

I get the address.

 

I think: Gardner Friend sure knows a lot of people.

 

Next we talk about AirBnB. Since Gardner Friend does this in a room in her house. And now that daughter has moved out we have an extra room and bathroom. We mull over the particulars of undertaking such an endeavor. Extra money would be nice. But could I handle the extra laundry? Philly and I decide to think about it.

 

Now it is getting close to my Pumpkin Time. I am starting to fade. There are a bunch of other people I did not get to talk to but I have to let that go.

I tell Gardner Friend, “I think I have to head out.”

“OK,” she says, “I am so glad you came!”

“Me too!” I say.

 

And I really am. I walk out happy. It feels so good to feel happy. To be around people, to feel scaffolded, buoyed up by the energy of friends.

 

Thank you Gardner Friend.

Thank you.

Daughter Moves

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Yesterday daughter moved into her new house.

It is only 20 minutes away from the Philly House.

 

I wake up and I take a deep breath. I know this day will not be easy. Not just the physical work. The emotional work. Daughter is leaving home. I am trying to be ready.

 

I am trying to not wind up in an abandonment trigger. I am trying to stay in my WISE MIND.

 

So we wake up. Daughter’s new roommate has slept over to help out. Before we go I go up into the daughter room with daughter and sit together to have a moment of closure. I cry a little tear. Daughter says, “Oh mama. I am still here.” And she points to her heart.

 

Next, we jump in the Kia and head to the storage unit where daughter has stored all the items she wished to keep from the Brooklyn apartment. Unfortunately when we get there, no one is at the office.

 

I pretty much immediately go to internal flip out.

Daughter goes to quiet external flip out.

 

We walk around. We call the number on the fence. We wait.

Finally THE GUY comes walking across the parking lot with a coffee.

 

I think: Thank you.

 

The Guy opens the office. We are about to go in when Philly realizes he does not have the key. Ok, I give him THE STARE. How does he not have the key? Did I mention it is raining?

 

The Guy says we can pay to have the lock clipped. He gives us the figures. He mentions if we pay cash the figure will be less. Between us of course.

 

We pay cash.

 

Philly Friend is here to help move out the larger items like the couch. I am grateful we got in to the storage unit before he had to leave.

 

We load the truck. There is more stuff than we remember. Isn’t it always this way reader? When we get everything into the truck we drive to the house to pick up all daughters things from the Philly House. Still, I am amazed at how much stuff there is. We get it all in the truck somehow and begin our drive to the new house.

 

Roommate’s dad has met us at the new house to help with the heavy lifting on this side. Thankfully everything fits through the door and up the stairs. Philly and Roommate’s Dad have a conversation about playing tennis.

We get the couch in! The purple couch from Brooklyn looks great!

 

I say, “The purple couch from Brooklyn looks great!”

Roommate says, “Yay! We have a real couch!”

 

As we unpack the Brooklyn dishes I am amazed. Amazed at the meticulous care son has packed all the glassware with.

 

“Wow” I tell daughter. Son really did a good job!

I text son: Great job on packing son!

 

Next we go upstairs to help daughter set up her room.

“Mama.” She says. “Where do I start?”

“Let’s start with the bed.” I say.

 

Did I mention there are cats in this house? The cats are running around up and down, in and out of everything we are doing. I am trying not to have an asthma attack.

 

The futon bed is a bit of a problem. It is from IKEA and turns out to be smaller than expected. This presents a period of suspended animation on what to do now. Many options are thrown around: Return the bed. Put the bed downstairs and order a new bed, make the bed work somehow.

 

We decide to make the bed work somehow. This includes draping a Queen Size foam bed topper over the futon mattress to lengthen it out. It actually works pretty well.

 

Next we tackle the closet and the enormous amount of clothes daughter has. Somewhere in the middle of this I have to give up. I can see this will be a daughter project over time.

 

It is almost time to go. A wave of sadness comes over me. Suddenly everything is different. Our little family structure has shifted, just like that. I am going to miss the daughter singing in the shower. The morning request for cuddles. Getting my hair braided. All of the daily things. Now different.

 

I am really feeling this grief. Even though I am happy for her. Even though I know all parents move through this. Even though.

 

I text my sponsor.

She texts: Get out of your head.

 

I ask Philly to come to an open meeting with me. He is comforting me. Turns out it is an hour and a half meeting and is just what I needed. I listen. I look around for people to talk to, people to help. I know I am going to have to pump up my meetings now.

 

When I get home I text daughter about tomorrow.

I text: Are we going shopping?

She texts: Yes!

 

And so today we will go. I will help her do her first grocery shopping.

Everything is different.

And everything is the same.

 

Eventually I will be able to redecorate her old room.

But not today reader.

Not today.

17

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Yesterday I went to Brooklyn.

I went to Brooklyn to visit son but also because yesterday was my 17-year sober anniversary.

 

I really want to go to this one particular meeting that has been such an important part of my recovery. We make plans to get up and out to drive to Brooklyn to make the 10:45 meeting.

 

“Are you ready?” I ask.

“Yes!” Philly says.

“Let’s go!” I say.

 

And off we go. I am excited because we are making great time. I am looking forward to seeing Friend 1 and Spiritual Friend, who will be attending the meeting.

 

When we arrive, Philly drops me off so he can go park the car. I approach the meeting a few minutes early but I hear voices like the meeting has started. When I walk in everyone is already seated. I see Program Friend. I walk over and whisper, “What time did the meeting start?”

 

PF answers, “9:45.”

“What?” I say. “I thought it was 10:45!”

“They changed the time.” PF says.

 

OMG. Now I only have half and hour of meeting to get. I cannot believe it.

Whatevs.

I sit my butt in the chair and listen. I notice the speaker is someone I know and someone I would have liked to have heard.

I let that go.

 

Soon, the meeting is over. We gather and talk. I am so happy to be back in Brooklyn, among so many faces I know so well, and who know me so well.

 

We are deciding where to go to eat. Son is supposed to meet us but since the ending time of the meeting is off from what we had thought, he will be late. Meanwhile we go to the diner.

 

I sit across from Friend 1. She has brought me a little card for my anniversary. Next to me is Spiritual Friend. We talk about days gone by in the Ashram.

 

I notice it is loud in the diner.

I say, “It is loud in the diner.”

Then I remember: Brooklyn Brunch time.

 

Lots of catching up and we are almost done. Son is not here yet. But it doesn’t matter, son cannot eat at this diner. He has had two previous allergic reactions here.

 

Then, I turn around and there he is. “Son!” I say.

“Yes mom.” he says. And he sits down.

 

We talk. Son says hello to everyone. Not too long though and people start to disburse. I give a big hug to Friend 1 as we make a loosely wrapped plan to meet at the beach in a few weeks.

 

Meanwhile, son decides he wants to walk down the street to Chipotle.

Off we go.

 

Son orders the Burrito Bowl because as he says, “You get the most bang for your buck.”

We walk to the park and sit outside to eat. The park is full of BBQ’s and thumping music and kids wet from the sprinklers. I lie down on the grass and soak it all in.

 

Let me tell you, I am pretty happy right now, lying here talking to son and Philly.

Time flies and it son has to be on his way. We walk down to 9th street so son can take the F train to the city to meet his fiancée. I notice you can smell the subway smell wafting up through the grates on the street.

 

“I kind of like that smell.” I say.

“Are you getting on the train here at 8th street?” I ask.

“Would you rather I walk with you to 7th?” he asks.

Like this is even a question.

We walk to 7th avenue.

 

When we get to the station I give him a big hug. “I love you so much!” I say.

 

“I love you too mom.” he says.

I watch him walk down the subway steps.

 

Now it is time for my Brooklyn haircut. We walk down to 5th avenue and make our way over to the salon. Since we are early we sit outside and take in the sights. It is hot and the city has that overheated city smell.

 

“Fragrant.” I say.

 

When we go in “R” my haircutter, is glad to see me. “R” says, “I never thought I would see you again!”

This is because since son gave up the Brooklyn apartment “R” thought I would not be coming back.

“Oh but some of my favorite meetings are here!” I say.

When I tell him it is my anniversary he is very impressed.

 

Philly naps while I get the haircut. We do all the usual gabby catching up. At the end, my hair looks fabulous. “See you next time!” I say.

 

Now it is time to walk over to 12th Street to visit “M” who is having a sober BBQ tonight. I am a little faded but I want to at least stop by. We arrive the first ones there. His apartment is very modern and very neat, with a really cool roof deck.

 

“Nice place!” I say.

“M” is a cooker and he has prepared some deliciously seasoned chicken. Plus fish and hamburgers and hot dogs. There is potato salad and guacamole and chips. Cheese and assorted drinks, non-alcoholic of course.

 

“Come on upstairs!” he tells us.

 

Philly and I go up. We walk to the end of the deck where you can see Manhattan. A little part of me pines for my old roof deck where you could see the city skyline and the Statue of Liberty. I have not been able to bring myself to walk by the old apartment on this visit.

 

People start arriving. I meet “J” who I immediately feel could be a friend if I still lived here. A bunch more people show up whom I have known over my years in sobriety. I don’t know everyone’s names. But I know their faces. I remember their shares.

 

In-between all the chatting I am texting with son about my bicycle. Much to my surprise I find out he has just abandoned it at the old apartment.

“I want my bike.” I say.

“I don’t have the key.” he says.

This is clearly not true since he used to use the bike.

“Where is it?” I ask. “I will go get it. I told you if you didn’t want it, I wanted it.”

 

Son does not agree with this recollection of how the bicycle conversation transpired. But I remember clearly. And now I want my bike. This texting back and forth goes on for a while. Suffice to say, it is still not resolved. I let it go for now.

 

Not too much longer and it is time to start getting on the road back to Philadelphia. I say my goodbyes. It is bittersweet. I have had a beautiful anniversary day. Seeing old friends. Stepping into an old familiar meeting. Lying around with son. Getting to attend a lovely BBQ with delicious food.

 

It has been a good 17.

And I am grateful for this day.

Yes I am.