Saturday, September 29, 2012


Throwing away!! My name is Lynn Rockman McCourt and I am a collector of things and it is very hard for me to throw things away because I really do love all my collections. Years ago I collected music boxes and I still have them today.

I have always loved dolls and have collected them for years. When I was about 12 years old I had a book called "A Pageant of Dolls." I was also a terrible nail biter. My parents said if I stopped bitting my nails in an allotted amount of time they would order numerous dolls found in this book for me. I was given a certain amount of time for this to happen  Maybe it was 2 months.  They put a medicine called "Thumb" on my nails - it would burn my tongue if I put my fingers in my month - but nothing could stop me - so at the end of the 2 months I hadn't lived up to my part of the deal so my father cancelled the order he had placed for a number of dolls.

As an adult I now purchase my own dolls. I still bite my nails. At the present time I'm only chewing three nails. Maybe by the end of the year I'll stop completely - old habits die hard. I still collect dolls and at the present time I'm collecting Russian and Ukrainian stackable dolls -- the ones that fit inside one another. I never throw any dolls away.

I have many many clothes and I never throw any of them away but I do share the wealth -- I always pass clothes on to my friends and when it's close to holiday time I leave packages in a church or on a bench near the park for someone to enjoy the spoils. It's a good feeling for me and I hope for them. It's always nice to get a present.

Friday, September 21, 2012

AT THE WINDOW by Miriam Daum

“What makes you think you know anything about amputees?”

That was my first introduction to Dr. Black, my new patient, just arrived speeding towards me in his electric wheelchair. The right leg of his green scrub suit was pinned up above the knee.

Dr. Black, an anesthesiologist at the hospital where we both worked, turned out to be a tough customer. Almost each of my instructions or advice was countered with a contradictory response.

“Stress test?  That’s poppycock…Why should I exercise my stump?  It’s just going into a prosthesis anyway... I don’t want to use a ‘safer’ walker; I want crutches.”

When it was time for me to make him a temporary artificial leg, he wanted it in green, not the standard plain plaster-white.

“I’m the consumer…I get to choose,” he said. (He got his green leg; a few drops of food coloring in the plaster water…it matched his scrub suit.)

“I hope you step in a meadow muffin,” was Dr. Black’s standard sendoff to me when leaving at the end of a day or meeting me in the hospital hallway. You had to look twice to see the mischievous grin, the laughter in his piercing blue eyes.

One Monday morning I arrived at the usual early hour for our session. Very early, before 7 a.m. when Dr. Black had to be in the operating room for his day’s work. He did not appear. I called the hospital page operator. 

“Not signed in yet,” she said.

Probably he was delayed in traffic returning from his farm, I thought; he had told me of his planned weekend there. But later that morning one of my colleagues pointed to Dr. Black’s name on the hospital admission list. He was in Cardiac ICU.

I raced up to his room. There he was presiding, sitting up in bed, blue eyes beaming. His audience, fellow physicians, a nurse or two and his wife, arrayed around him.

“So there I was with all the EKG electrodes glued to my chest. I stood up to watch the monitor. Saw myself going into v. tach…said ‘Oh, oh – I better lie down. So I lay down and arrested.”

Shock and disbelief on all our faces…

“But,” he continued with his booming laugh, “the nice girls and boys there brought me back…and then the whole thing happened again…”

Mrs. Black was not laughing as she filled in the saga details. Dr. B had not felt well, she told us, driving down to the farm. 

“Let’s go to the emergency room,” Mrs. Black had said. 

“No” was the characteristic reply.

Returning home, Dr. B was pale and flushed.

“We’re going to the E.R.,” Mrs. B. proclaimed.

“No,” her husband said. At which point Mrs. B gave him two choices: E.R.or divorce. He went.

“Please stay out of trouble for awhile,” I begged, turning to leave. Patients were waiting for me downstairs. 

“I hope you step in a meadow muffin,” Dr. Black called after me.

Not funny, I mumbled to myself, appalled at his nonchalance in the face of almost-death. Not funny at all.

Later that day after work, I went back up to visit. There was no more audience now. Even Mrs. Black had gone home. I paused at the half-closed door, wondering if I should go in or let him rest. Quietly I pushed the door a little wider. There was Dr. Black sitting in his wheelchair, head turned towards the window. Tears were trickling slowly down his cheeks.

Monday, September 17, 2012

UNSPOKEN by Lynne Reitman

There is a picture I have of Eliana’s birthmother and myself meeting for the first time. Eliana was 22 years old when we went back to Paraguay to meet her. At an internship she had done with an adoption agency, she had heard of a group that organized trips and reunions for families who adopted children from foreign countries. Eliana decided she wanted them to help her find her birthmother.

The program suggested that I write a letter to her birthmother, explaining who I was and how wonderful Eliana was and Eliana wrote a letter asking to meet or correspond or connect in any way she felt she would want to. She specifically said that she was not angry and just wanted to meet. After several months the agency located Esteria Enciso,  Eliana’s birthmother, and started talking to her about possibly meeting the daughter she had given up for adoption 21 years ago. These discussions went on for awhile and by the time we left for our trip to see and tour Paraguay we knew part of that trip would include meeting Eliana’s mother.

Shortly after arriving in Asuncion we were told that the second day of the trip would be the reunion. We were staying in a hotel with many North American families with Paraguayan children and some of them also had reunions scheduled. The anticipation made connecting with these families very easy. We watched in the hotel lobby as families left for and returned from their reunions. The kids huddled to debrief and the parents did the same. Then it was our turn.

On our way to the meeting which was to take place in a private room in a restaurant in Asuncion, we sat in the back of the cab squeezing each other's hands and anxiously smiling. The ride was too short. We arrived at the restaurant and walked around to the rear along a slate path and came to an opening where there was a patio and a sliding glass door into the private room where the meeting was to take place. There, a woman from the agency met us and told us that Eliana’s birthmother and her husband had gotten lost and would be late. We walked into the room with our disappointment and fear.

There were several women in the room – the social worker who had developed a relationship with Eliana’s birthmother, the young woman from the agency who had prepared Eliana, and a young psychologist who would be acting as our translator. There was a large table in the middle of the room filled with rich and creamy Paraguayan cakes and chocolates and two large thermoses of coffee. Cups and saucers and plates were laid out. As much as Eliana and I loved chocolates, for once, they were irrelevant. I took some coffee, which was incredibly tasty and sweet.  I loved this. Through my excitement and worry I realized how happy I was at that moment. How glad I was that we had arrived at this place where Eliana and I were at ease with each other and able to receive her mother into our lives.
Eliana saw them first and went to the glass door to meet them. I saw the resemblance immediately – the heart shaped hairline, the dark brown eyes slightly too far apart, the hesitancy and charming unease that had drawn me to Eliana from the beginning when we first met – here it appeared in her mother. I looked on as they fell into each other and hugged and cried and gazed at each other’s faces. So glad, so immensely glad, to see each other.

Then her mother noticed Eliana’s hands – long with slender fingers that tapered – and she said something to her husband. The translator told us that she had said that Eliana’s hands were just like Melanie’s – their daughter and Eliana’s half-sister. Eliana was thrilled and looked my way – I had very often told her how beautiful her hands were – the frequency with which I said this was a joke between us.

Her gaze toward me brought me into their circle and her mother walked over to me and gave me a deep look of gratitude and love that acknowledged the years that I had raised Eliana and the gesture of bringing her back so they could meet again. We stood holding each other’s arms and looking into each other's eyes and one of the several wonderful people in the room managed to take that picture.

I look at it every day – not just that it’s on my desk – I stop and really look at it. It represents the best of me and the luck I had having this woman be the mother of my child.

As she and Eliana sat side by side holding hands, smiling, excited, surrounded by friends and family – they gave her 2 gifts – a jaunty black hat that I knew Eliana would never wear, and a silver ring that I knew she would never take off. Then Eliana took out the scrapbook she had made for her mother – pictures of her life. This had been a very seriously studied gift. We thought about what pictures would best help her mother see what Eliana’s life was without making her feel too badly about what she had missed. Pictures where there was room for her to imagine herself there. Pictures of Eliana in her halloween costumes, with girlfriends, boyfriends, graduations, volleyball games. And she smiled and touched every picture – the same smile I had seen on Eliana’s face thousands of times that her mother had missed these many years.

They couldn’t get enough of each other so we started making plans to meet again before we had to leave the country. There was confusion and indecision and anxiety in trying to make this plan. Eliana was crying watching her mother go through the same difficulty making decisions as she had. She had always been disarmed by my decisiveness.

We left it to the agency to organize the next meeting, talking to everyone when the emotional charge was lower and thoughts more clear. Eliana and her mother had such a difficult time having to leave each other again. I don’t think they could have done it except for the next family coming into that sweet and sacred space for their reunion.


Monday, September 10, 2012

WITHOUT ADVICE by Laura Weaver

It was two weeks after the funeral. I was moving around in a thick, hazy fog. Still in shock, disbelief and moving my body from Point A to Point B – but never remembering how I got there. I could feel myself sinking, sliding slowly down a very dark, deep lonely pit. Dear God, I have never felt this intensity of despair. I had a huge elephant sitting on my chest and I was suffocating – and yet, I had the most incredible empty space throughout my body.

That emptiness was the space Alan’s energy had occupied for 23 years. We were so meshed and so intertwined that I never realized what part was me and what part was Alan. I visualize this combining of our energy as if Alan’s energy was an invisible octopus that attached to my chest.  Once attached, this octopus pulsated energy throughout every cell of my body. We melded, combined, connected – became as one - my mate, my lover, my confidant, my provider, my protector, my solid. 

And now, that he is dead, it feels that he was ripped from my chest – leaving wounds that would take years to heal. Without his energy in my body, I was so very, very tired.  I couldn’t get my bearings straight.  I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. And yet, with this incredible sadness and fatigue, came a huge amount of nervous energy, driven by fear, not knowing how to move around, to comfort my broken children and to even begin to fill that space in our lives that Alan occupied.

So there I am, exhausted, no energy and then at night, I could not sleep. That underlying nervousness, restlessness, constant processing – I was wiped out!

The boys had an open house at school. Parents would go through their children’s schedule, meet the teachers, and learn about the courses and expectations of the teachers. My friend, Carla and her husband, Lewis called and asked me to ride with them. It was amazing how childlike I was, like a little girl. I was in such a daze. It was like my friends would hold my hand and I just went with them.

So, I sat in a desk in one of Chad’s classes and a woman sat next to me. She handed me a piece of paper. You don’t know me, but my name is Claire Daly and I have two sons, Benjamin and Jonathan. My husband died five years ago. Here’s my number. You call me anytime, day or night. I know how long your nights can be.

Four days later, I am pacing the floor at four in the morning. I had been up all night. I felt like a caged animal – a lioness in a zoo, pacing back and forth looking out the bars of my cage. Trapped, frustrated, losing my mind!

I remembered that lady that gave me the paper with her number on it. At five a.m. I called her. 
“Claire, this is Laura Weaver. I feel like I am losing my mind.”

“Laura, I live a two streets from you. I am coming.”

Twenty five minutes later, Claire is at my kitchen door with a paper gift bag and two cups of coffee. We sat on my patio and out of her bag, she pulled a box of Kleenex, two bottled waters and two books.  

Claire looked at me and asked, “How are you?”

I started talking to her about the pain, the emptiness, the profound sadness, the constant “headtalk,” the thick, thick fog I lived in, my fear of helping and raising my boys alone, the heartbreak over my broken family, my fatigue, and the never ending sleeplessness.

Claire in all of her wisdom of walking this walk before me said, “No, Laura, you are not losing your mind. This is grief, you have been broken. Be gentle with yourself, feel what you feel – this is the beginning of healing.”

Sunday, September 9, 2012


As I drove down the Turnpike headed west through the Berkshires, I started to have a conversation with God.

“Ok, I’m listening, why exactly did you want me to go to this Omega place for a writing workshop?”  Silence

It had seemed a good idea at the time I registered. The glitzy catalogue was very attractive and full of opportunities for growth. I like writing and others have said they liked my writing -- if you could call the short pieces about finding, often tripping over God in everyday life, writing. 

And I had hit a loggerhead -- writers block I guess they call it. Mine was more like constipation. You strain and strain and you want something desperately to come out -- after a while you don’t care if it does look like crap -- you just want the relief of having it come out of you.

So there was the constipation and the need to just get away from the pressures of work.

And so I signed up two weeks ago -- it seemed like a good idea at the time.

But winding through the Berkshires, I paid no attention to the beautiful vistas that the road reveals as it cuts through the mountains. 

Sitting here, writing this, I realize that I don’t even know how I got here. The whole trip here my thoughts were elsewhere, as the reality of what I was about to do sunk in. I was going to camp with a bunch of people who probably were real writers -- people who had been doing this for years.  People who had had training in this.

My writing training consisted in a journalism course 35 years ago the only scrap of which I remember is that you need to pack as much into the first paragraph because by the time you get to the fifth you’ve lost 80% of your readers.

As I neared Austerlitz and the exit for the Taconic South, a voice in my head started to speak to me, 

“You could just stay on the road going west and spend the week at Siena College. It’s home, it’s relaxing and Mikey it’s safe.”

“You could call up your classmate Brian right now and get a room. This is a no brainer.”

But apparently my grey Toyota wasn’t listening. She got off at the Taconic exit and headed South. 

But the voice in my head was persistent. “South?  Great!!  You do realize that we are only two and a half hours from the New York City. You can camp out with the brothers at 31st or 96th street, one of them will have room. Man, when was the last time you had 5 days in the city -- so much to do or not do, it’s all up to you.

I thought about it, but didn’t respond to the very attractive alternative.  I kept driving south.  At some point the voice realized that he hadn’t quite closed the deal of derailing the Omega venture. 

So then he brought out the heavy guns. “About this workshop, one question -- Do you really want to embarrass yourself?  Because you know, that’s probably going to be what is going to happen. You know they expect you to read what you write -- it said it right there in the brochure. Do you really want to be perceived as a ‘wanna be’ all week long? Listen to me!  Do the safe thing. Don’t do this!  I tell you -- this is not going to end well.

Despite the voice’s tapping into my deepest fear, I still got off the Taconic onto what I can best describe as a back road. As it wound through farm and field I thought,  “I’m lost! This can’t be right!”  And I caved into the voice and said to myself,  “Well if I don’t find it quickly -- I will just head to the city.”  

And then over the next rise was a sign -- Omega

My last chance to escape was now gone.  As I pulled into the parking lot, the voice, apparently realizing the futility of the situation, fell silent.

I parked and went into the welcome center and registered. The people could not have been nicer. “This bodes well.” I tried to convince myself. 

I set my campsite and set out to explore the Institute, which is situated on hundreds of acres. I found a neat little cafĂ©, bought a decaf and pulled out the brochure they give to the newbie’s.
As I thumbed through it trying to find the map, my eyes fell on the words, Cancelation Policy - “Well, too late for that.”  I sighed, with more resignation than anything else.

But for some reason I kept on reading that section. Maybe it was the lawyer in me subconsciously scouring for something in the fine print that would somehow hold the key to my escape from potential humiliation. 

And then, there it was.  My eyes latched on to a paragraph that said if you are not happy with a workshop you can switch to another one.

With this discovery the voice that had been silent since our arrival literally screamed with excitement,    

“Here it is! Here’s your out. If tomorrow this thing really sucks, if you bomb, if you are totally out of your league, you can just switch to some other program, something safe like permaculture -- you like gardening or listening to your gut. BUT not singing, cuz with your voice that definitely would be embarrassing!!

What the voice said did make a lot of sense. Ok, I decided, that will be my Plan B, that’s my safety net if I fell off the high wire of writing.

Backup plan safely decided on, I began exploring the serpentine pathways that wound up the hill until I came upon a sign that said sanctuary. There was no building in sight, just an arch and a set of stone steps that snaked into the darkness. I thought about turning back, thinking that this was a journey better made in the light of day, but something nudged me on. Flashlight in hand, I carefully climbed the twisting, uneven rock stairway. Carefully, slowly, I made my way to the top where there were some soft lights illuminating the entrance. 

As I entered the dark, cool wooden building, I could barely make out among the shadows where the chairs were. I was looking for a chair. I wasn’t ready to sit on one of those cushion things, too early in the week for that.

As I settled into a chair and relaxed, my eyes became accustomed to the darkness, and I came to the realization that I was not alone. There were other people seated throughout the sanctuary. 

What they were doing there, I had no clue. Maybe emptying themselves. Maybe filling themselves. Maybe both.

Somehow comforted by the fact that I was not alone, I relaxed and my thoughts turned to the God who had brought me here.

I thought, “OK God, I’m still waiting for my answer.  Why am I here?”

After a while my butt went numb and I decided that it was time to go. I headed down the hill, armed again with the trusted flashlight. I was even more careful than on my ascent, as I didn’t want to trip and “go ass over teakettle” as my grandmother would say. Even though God had not told me why I was here, I was pretty sure it wasn’t to get a broken neck!

And then, as I came around a turn, my flashlight shone on a curved wall below. Looking down on the top of the wall I saw written in small, smooth stones one word: Divine.

In that one word I was reminded of who God is and who I am -- at my best and not filled with self-doubt.

In that one word was the answer to the question of why I was here.

I was here to have an experience of God’s divine unconditional love --

a love that accepts and doesn’t judge, 

a love that holds and treasures what is broken in our lives, 

a love that takes the brokenness shared and then does something truly amazing with it.

I was here to be bathed in that love and to be reminded that ultimately Divine love is all that I need to face the challenges of this life 

and to cope with the voices in my head. 

God had finally spoken. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

THEFT by Susan Macri

I wore my special quiana knit blouse, with purple grapes and luscious leaves, and the waiters at Manero’s Steak House came visit to me in the little coat check where I worked weekends to tell me how special I looked, how pretty in it.  Their compliments were especially florid when the other fat-gutted middle-aged waiters were around: men from Greece, old Italians, young Yugoslavs (my favorite guy had black long hair and green eyes) with tight high asses and spectacular shoulders.  Why?  One old, paunchy man advised me urgently to steal from the coat check till.  Everyone did it, why shouldn’t I make some extra money too?  I was underpaid.  Well, I was being paid for the first time, and it seemed pretty good to me.  Should I take the money?  I took $20, felt terrible, put it back the next night.

The night I returned the 20 to the till, I decided I didn’t like these guys, this job, this cubby hole. These big steaks hanging in the refrigerated display case, the floor strewn with sawdust.  Maybe I could speak to my mom about quitting this job, find another --- but being the only girl in a joint full of men was intoxicating.  What would I learn?  Everything here was mysterious, the smoke, the dim red lighting, the way the waiters were protective and solicitous or slavering by turns.

What was I to do?  The night I returned the 20 was a Saturday in October, a good dark smell in the leaves as I walked to the job through my suburban development, across route 25A, quick-quick to thread the traffic to cross the intersection.  I put the 20 in the jar and breathed out, felt my feet on the ground, steady.  I know who I am.

Mike has thick red hair cut to the shoulders, a tickly looking moustache, handsome bronzed skin and bright aquamarine eyes. My feet hurt, but I like looking at him.  The night is long and boring except when the men come around to talk about man stuff or complement me on how cute I look.  Mike never does that stuff.  He’s really old, 27, married.  He joins the group where the conversation takes a turn to my curves, tiny waist, pretty lips.  I blush, but I want to know more about how they think.  Mike says, in front of them all, “Let me give you a ride home.  It’s late.”  I take him up on it.  I can’t remember his ride, but it was a two-seater, not a car that a family man might have.  It was sporty and fast.  He takes me the three quarters of a mile home to Alexander Drive and he stops the car at the corner, but not in the driveway of my house.  I can’t understand it, but I think it’s sexy to get to talk to him for a few minutes.  There is light from somewhere.  He looks at me and smiles.  What does he say?  I don’t remember.  Mike unzips his trousers and pulls out a large. Pink. Hard. Cock.  It’s very big, and maybe only the third one I have seen.  I have spied on my brothers and dad when I was so little I could crouch behind the trash basket and not be seen.  So I know.  My dad saw me and gently put me out of the room saying, “Ohhh, nooo,” very softly.  But I remember how he looked, and the difference between his sex and that of my little brothers.

Mike takes my face in his hands and remarks again on my lips.  He is very beautiful, I can’t breathe, and I don’t know if I should be scared, don’t know what he wants me to do.  But I am scared, I can’t breathe, I can’t be the object of this attention.  I know this is as wrong as anything my mother has ever warned me about -- is wrong as she says all sex is wrong for me, anyway.  What I hear in her room at night, or used to when I was a child, I can’t understand.  The cooing of doves, and the softness of shifting fabric.  Something good is in there, I always thought, and I would like to see what it is.

Mike pushes my head down — I can’t remember anything more.  I don’t think I stayed there very long, but I had the distinct feeling even then that this gesture would get back to the men, define something for Mike and for them, change everything about me to myself.

I can’t remember how I got into the house.  But there was a light, and my mother standing behind the door waiting for me.  Furious, seething, a viper.  Why mom, if Mike was hurting me, didn’t you come out swinging?  Why didn’t you protect me, if it was so dangerous a thing?  I can’t ask these questions, I can’t think them for 20 years or more.  I don’t remember getting into bed.  But just as Mom had slapped me when I first got my period, and barged into my room when I was masturbating as a young girl in that sexy household — why wasn’t there a lock on my door, some privacy, something?  But I know I am bad, and I think I may have to get used to it.  I may have to learn to like it.

I hate her guts. 

That spring I fall in love with a girl, Ilana, hair to her waist, breasts like rising bread, lovely.  She holds me, holds me, and asks me if I am afraid.  I am afraid.  I ask mom if I can go to a therapist.

“No daughter of mine is a lesbian, and no daughter of mine needs a shrink,” she tells me.  I work that over.  I go into her sanctuary, her bedroom where I am not allowed to be.  To her precious jewelry box, to her lovely Elizabeth Arden red lipstick case.  And I write a suicide note on her vanity mirror.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A MEMORY I LOVE TO KEEP by Harold Burnett

As a family we played lots of games.  I won’t say competition was vicious, but it could become heated.  For some reason my parents enjoyed a very noisy game called “Pit.”  

The game is based on commodity sales at the Stock Exchange . . . free market capitalism at its best.  Each player is dealt a number of cards with the names and pictures of vegetables on them.  The object of the game is to “corner” a market in one commodity of vegetable by exchanging cards in a noisy screaming match that starts as soon as the dealer finishes dealing and declares, “The Pit Is Open!”
One is allowed to yell out numbers from 1 to 5 indicating the number of cards one is willing to trade.  If two people yell the same number, 3 for example, they would make an exchange of cards.  As son as one has five of the same “commodity” he/she yells, “Corner on ‘______, corn!’” for example.  That round is over and the cards are dealt again and a new pit is opened.  Raucous yelling of numbers fills the air again until a new corner is won.  

My mother, trained in classical voice, would always roll her R’s when yelling “thrrrrrree, thrrrree, thrrree.”  She liked that better than winning.  My father, a Baptist minister, liked to entone or chant all his bids in a deep bass, “ooonnnee, oonnnee, oonnnee.”  All of us kids would scream our numbers at the top of our lungs.  Even the three cocker spaniels loved the noise and excitement of the bidding and would bark and whine and sometimes piddle on the kitchen floor.

We played the game while on vacation in a remote hunting cabin deep in the north woods of New Hampshire.  We had running water but no bathroom.  A two-hole privy about 50 feet behind the house served our needs.  To use the privy at night, we took a flashlight and ventured out back there always aware that a skunk, or a porcupine or even a bear might be sniffing around the neighborhood.  

One night, in the middle of a particularly raucous game of Pit, my little sister, Barbie, age six, needed to use the privy.  The game was going at such a fever pitch that no one wanted to break away to take her.  She really had to go so she took the flashlight and headed out into the dark night.  

Porcupines like to gnaw on wood that human sweat has left tasting salty.  The privy attracted them for a midnight snack.  When Barbie gingerly opened the wooden door, she startled a porcupine gnawing on one of the seats.  The animal jumped toward the open door.  Barbie screamed and threw the flashlight up in the air.  The porcupine had scooted toward the woods, but the flashlight landed right in its path and caused the animal to do an abrupt about face.  Barbie had started to run back toward the cabin screaming wildly because the porcupine was right at her heels trying to escape the flashlight.

My brother had just cornered barley when we heard her screams and we all rushed out onto the porch in time to see her rounding the corner of the cabin neck and neck with a surprisingly agile porcupine.  Barbie leaped up onto the porch.  The porcupine scooted under the porch and everything ended happily.  What a laugh!

My father died of cancer in 1993 unable to speak in his final days.  My mother had a stroke three years later and spent a frustrating ten years trying to form words and express her thoughts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

HOME by Linda Bomse

My car seemed to have a mind of its own as I left New York after spending a gorgeous morning just wandering around.

I’d left very early that Sunday and had arrived at 34th and 3rd where I knew I could sit outside and have breakfast at Cinema. My puppy Major would sit next to me as he had when Jerry was with me last year: watching the vendors set up booths for the street fair, straining to get at the larger dogs who passed, totally disinterested in this black and white bundle of energy.

The waitress: “Hi! I am Veronica. I will be your server today,” knelt to pet Major, left with my coffee order and emerged with coffee for me and water for the puppy. She took my order: scrambled egg whites very well done and scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream. Against my son’s advice, I had totally spoiled Major and today would be no exception. I broke off little pieces of the omelet and slipped them to him as he sat beside me under the table.

I have always loved Sunday mornings in New York as the streets slowly awakened welcoming joggers, couples wheeling strollers, wheelchair bound elderly being taken out for an airing before it grew too hot, the requisite garbage picker carrying a huge black bag which he continued to load with discarded cans excised from the overflowing street corner trash containers.

After breakfast, I walked the street fair – starting as Jerry and I always had – even before most of the stalls were completely set up. We would wander at our own pace, agreeing to meet at the next corner if we had lost sight of each other. Invariably, he would buy sox: browns, beiges, navies and blacks with subtle patterns. Always the short ones – never the over the calf sox that I preferred because they prevented sock gap when he crossed his legs at work. But, I wasn’t the one who would be wearing them so I learned early in our relationship to butt out of his choices.

Today, no sox would be bought. My God, I thought, I could open my own stall with all the unworn pairs of socks I’d taken from his drawers in February as I prepared for the Big Brothers Big Sisters truck to come for donations. 100’s of sox, 100’s of shirts, dozens of sweaters and fleeces, windbreakers and handkerchiefs. He’d always used handkerchiefs, another item bought and bought again at these fairs.

Today, though, Major was my companion and, although he sniffed many other puppy butts, accepted the attention of well trained children who asked first if they could pet the puppy, as he had every time we had brought him with us, although the weather was perfect, although my favorite pocketbook vendor and the guy with the Fabulous Imposter jewelry were there, my wallet remained closed.

By noon, I was back in my car headed home. The car drove itself as Major fell asleep safely attached to a rear seat belt and I nibbled a leftover scone I’d saved from breakfast.
I daydreamed and turned off the Expressway at 135 North, known locally as the S.O.B. Turned right onto Jericho Turnpike toward Woodbury and left at the third light. At the end of the road, having passed the high school and the soccer field, I took a left and a quick right onto Cherry Lane, began up the hill and pulled over, suddenly aware that I had made a mistake.

I didn’t live here anymore.

There were no meandering paths to weed - no fish to feed – no Jerry.

I left to go to my new house in the town I’d moved to a couple of months before: a house I really liked.

But, not yet my home.