What can YOU say in six sentences?
It was my father’s chair, a brown corduroy recliner that sat in front of the big, white tiled fireplace. The older he got, the worse his Parkinson’s disease, the harder it became for him to rise from that chair. I think it was the only place in the house he was truly comfortable, perhaps the only place in a world that had changed so much since he was born in Russia, before the Revolution, since his family vanished in the Holocaust.
He must have missed it, after my mother put…Continue
Ben moved to San Francisco thirty years ago and really, we were never that close to begin with. But he found me on Facebook and I recognized his name immediately when the Friend Request popped up.
I’ll always think of him as a banjo player, but these days he’s a photo journalist. He posts pictures on Facebook and I wish I saw the world through his eyes. I would never have noticed the chrome-yellow box emblazoned with the red scorpion, much less photographed it, framed by the…Continue
It looked like a sunset on a stormy night, an ominous deep purple streaked with angry red. Cheerful garnet toenails added a surreal touch of Hollywood glamour to toes dark as thunderheads. My first impulse was to scrub them clean but soap and nailbrush can’t touch blackened blood dried under swollen skin.
Three weeks later, the sunset has faded. I should have photographed it right after I broke it, when it still looked like a special effect, like a prop in a zombie movie. …Continue
Sometimes, sleep wraps itself around me like a beloved friend, and seamlessly, today becomes tomorrow. Sometimes, it teases, dancing just out of reach.
When my husband calls, sleep runs to him like a dog, loyal and loving. For me, sleep is a cat, willful and wild. Chase a cat and she runs away. Sit still and she approaches, purring in your arms when you least expect it.
In my dreams, bears amble through green woods, sandy blond and mahogany brown, wild and beautiful.
Last month, we traveled to Alaska, hoping for bears, seeing them only as furry brown pebbles glimpsed through binoculars. Waking, I think, these are the bears I hoped for in Alaska. But for the first time in my life, I go to a website that…Continue
Film cost money, developing film cost more. When we were young and wild, we also were chronically broke and disinclined to spend our scarce funds on photographs when so many other options beckoned. As a result, interesting though they were, my earlier years are largely undocumented.
How different from the lives of my younger relatives who have come of age in the era of digital photography, every moment captured and cast into the electronic ocean to be shared with…Continue
A few years ago, I took a job in the neighborhood where I went to college and graduate school, a neighborhood I loved and left 25 years ago. At the time, my life centered on this part of the city—my friends, my work, the venue for the concerts I produced, the public radio stations that aired my shows. But the wheel turned, my friends scattered, the office that employed me closed, my new career left little room for avocations as time consuming as the concerts and the radio shows, and…Continue
A thread of music runs through many of my life’s stories, a thread of avocation, friendship, and sometimes even livelihood. It begins on a single afternoon, the summer between my junior and senior year in high school, when I met two “older men.” David, who had just finished his freshman year at Columbia, and Erik, who would start college that year. both brilliant acoustic guitar players, in a time when everyone played the guitar. After that, I immersed myself in music, worked in…Continue
In Western Massachusetts, it starts snowing in October and doesn’t stop until April. Once, in an April blizzard, I bought a briefcase as orange as Kool Aid because I lusted for color in a chiaroscuro world of black and white and grey. I gave it to my painter friend Maggie when I moved away. She needed it more than I would, back in Philadelphia.
Someone asked me recently why women in Russia dye their hair implausible shades of red, burgundies and maroons and bubblegum pinks. I…Continue
I loved those shoes—yellow as a duck’s bill, with two inch platforms and heels so high, I have no idea how I walked in them. But when I wore them, I felt pretty, and I didn’t feel pretty very often.
It had been years, decades really, since I thought about the yellow patent leather platform heels but last week, I met my friend Diana for lunch. It was St. Patrick’s Day, a dangerous day to be out and about on a college campus, when the drinking starts early and goes on…Continue
Older couples bewildered me when I was young. I wondered what they possibly could see in each other.
I don’t know who said that after forty, we all have the faces we deserve. It’s credited to everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Coco Chanel. I do know that weathered older faces tell interesting stories. Much more interesting than the smooth young ones that hold my attention about as long as blank notebooks.
I wore love beads, though no one I knew in New York called them that, my center-parted hair reached the middle of my back and my friends wore dresses and tunics made from Indian fabrics that even then, reminded me of bedspreads. The disapproving stares of adults amused us, just as generations before were amused by the disapproval of bobby sox, pegged jeans, poodle skirts and pompadours.
I thought of this today when a pretty young girl sat next to me on the train, her pastel…Continue
“Robert Redford wasn’t going to play me in the movie;” wrote a classmate of Bob Woodward, contemplating fame and the place his life had taken him. I never gave much thought to the question of who should play me in the movie, until the day my phone rang.
A friend of mine, a musician, had died of a fashionable disease, and a production company was flirting with the idea of using his life story as a made-for-tv-movie; would I give them permission to use my name and character…Continue
My 16 year old cousin Kate says I need a fourth choice in the game of 20 Questions: Yes, No, Unknown, and Further Discussion Required. I’ve never been good at singularity, at favorites, at clearly-delineated, black and white choices.
Nora Ephron writes that the most important thing about her used to be that she was divorced. Now, it is that she is old. I cannot say what the most important thing is about me. It is not that I am old.
I would like to forget the woman who called me on that crystalline September morning. She was always so eager to be the bearer of bad tidings. But just as I will never forget the teacher who announced that the president had been shot, the museum colleague who told me that…Continue
Then I learned that his car had been spending nights in her driveway.
You might think that I’d be used to it by now and yet, after all these years, I can still be ambushed by grief. Overwhelmed by the realization that I will never see him again, that I will hear his voice only in my memories. I wonder what he would think of the twists and turns my life has taken. Some of the hard roads would have been easier, if I could have shared them with him, for the unique blend of compassion, wisdom,…Continue
When we lived in Orlando, people often asked why my husband and I had chosen an older home. The 1955 cinder block was absolutely undistinguished but it was near a great dog park and had what the realtor described as a “killer swimming pool.” Our usual answer, though, was, “Our house in Philadelphia was built in 1906, and it wasn’t an older home.”…Continue
The child scowls from the front page of the Orlando newspaper, face surrounded by a fur-trimmed hood, giant mittens engulfing her hands. The cutline reads “Shivering in the arctic 45 degree blast…..” In Florida, people wear tweed when the temperature plummets into the 70s.…Continue