Thursday, January 2, 2014

The eighth day of christmas, new year's day. A new year begins


The eighth day of Christmas.  New Year’s day. A new year begins. And who are my companions? What happens is symbolic to where we are.

It should be a vacation day. But I am alone and so go to the office to catch up. Why are the lights on? Soon enough Ralph (of ETHEL) emerges. He’s here with a flautist rehearsing for a Friday night gig at the Metropolitan Museum balcony bar. I invite them to move from the chapel to the sanctuary so I can hear them as as I do my work. We spend time sharing appropriately good memories of Christmas Eve.

And of course, soon enough Rachelle appears.

Later in the day, Michel walks in. Used to be a member of  Samir (Leila’s father)’s community chorus. They sang everything from classics to Samir’s original compositions to Christmas carols. He misses that. Hopes that we could do that again. And I would like for that to happen.

Unavoidably, I choose to spend an hour talking with Rachelle. Hear her old stories again. Of her car accident on the bridge and her miraculous angel assisted rescue/salvation. Of her early days as  neighbors of the Nixons and Rockefellers. Her relationship with Donald Trump. How Patty Hearst's grandmother taught her how to dress as a bag lady for self-protection. And now she is one. Of a college roommate descended from Norwegian royalty. Of college day parties and handsome men. And her attention to the homeless. And now she is one. Of her outliving a  terminal diagnoses. And spending her fortune. To help others. 

And how none of those can now help her. Too many lost private numbers. If Tennessee Williams had been a mid century German Jew, she would be a classic Williams character lost in her past, roaming the streets, SUV shopping carts carrying her life. I try to be patient. It could be me. Had one or two critical decisions gone the other way. He used to be a minister, they’d say. 86th and Amsterdam. They say he went to Yale!!! So I try to be more compassionate, understanding.

I walk down to Roosevelt Hospital to visit Cara and back.

RL initiates a conversation into taking seriously the money we’re about to come into. Not a windfall. You worked too hard to call it that. And what it will take to use that money not to survive but to grow. We’re talking  about the same thing here. Time is shorter than you think. A new year is beginning.

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