November 24, 2009

Glimpses




The white bookcase in the cottage with a glimpse of the kitchen. 1980.




Himself: Swam. Had a really positive day. Dinner was salad at Pizza Nova.

Herself: Antibiotics again. Edited, meeting, got G to climb up into the attic and hand down the turquoise ornaments. Thanks to my dogged perservereance, we have enough 1950’s stuff to decorate a big tree.

Reading: Nothing yesterday.

Balance: Dinner out.

1980:

December 27:
The television said the pilot was flying low over a residential area and was circling a friend’s house. The plane went into a dive, stalled, and it was unable to pull out. It went nose first into the ground, they reported. The pilot was conscious when he was pulled out, but the passenger was unconscious though still alive. At the hospital, the passenger was pronounced dead and the pilot is recovering from extensive facial surgery.

One of Greg’s friends caught me half way home from the liquor store to tell me the news. Instead of being shocked, I kept having this absurd desire to say something politely then move on. Does reality always confront you in the middle of a busy street?

Frankie reminded me that Greg had achieved many of his goals this year. It’s true. He had conquered drugs and alcohol and was well on his way to the stars as a mission specialist. This had been one of his best years ever. He was a rare one filled with brilliance, laughter, strength, charm…and mouth. He was one of the golden ones who had everything under control and was winning. I don’t just weep for Greg, but I weep for the living too. He was only thirty-two years old.

December 28:
Naked emotions. Dan...so bleak yet wanting to walk with me down the alley. He was unable to talk. Dorothy crying. Diego, angry because he introduced the pilot and Greg. Bill called and we cry together.

Down on the cold beach standing with rows of other silent friends, crying in the end when hugged by Greg’s beautiful lover. Tears again to see his old dog. Still the total impact of it doesn’t strike me until I see his brother. So alike they were. Now I doubly mourn our missing golden friend. Frankie and I had found an armload of roses in a trashcan. I brought them and gave them out to everyone.




1981

Jan 3:

Momentarily

Commonplace things
like washing dishes-
vigorously,
sweeping floors-
brutally,
even walking on the beach-
strongly,
momentarily
takes away the pain
from a friends
impending
death,

But when I stop….

January 11:
Sheets! I have sheets that match each other!
Frankie and I stopped by the freebox just as a kind woman dropped off three matching green and white checked sheets…two fitted bottoms and one top. My enthusiasm must have been so loud and energetic that she timidly asked me if I would like the pillowcases too. Would I? I would have waded through anything for a whole set of sheets that matched. The dignity of owning sheets that match is unimaginable to someone like me.

I have been feeling better too. I am taking enough vitamins to sink a battleship. Now I get a ding, and it heals. I get the bug, and I recover. My gums are still raw and swollen so I know something is still wrong.

January 25:
Yesterday I swigged Maalox on and off all day, and today I felt so weak and shaky that I couldn’t get out of bed. It is a good thing I got all the shopping and cooking done yesterday for Jo’s birthday party, for it was quite a celebration. At her house, she had friends in and out all day to watch “Shogun” on the Betamax, to talk, and to eat the wonderful food. I got to meet some nice new people.

Jo looks a little thinner, and her hair is skimpy and flat. Buoyed by painkillers, she seemed to really enjoy herself outwardly. I was so glad. I helped in the kitchen, had a few drinks, ate outrageously, and faded away about ten. She had invited me to spend the night, but I couldn’t exactly sleep in a living room crowded with her friends all watching TV, so I went out and crashed in the giant green Oldsmobile. Since I am at least two feet longer than the backseat, I woke in the night a few times, but it wasn’t too bad. In the morning, I snuck in, read the papers, and coffeed until the sun was up. I washed the party dishes. That was my little gift for Jo’s 47th birthday.

February 6:
Short on sleep, I took the kids to school and me to work in a dilatory fashion. Sparking some enthusiasm into the day was the thought that the Save Our Heritage Organization, SOHO, as moving a good-sized Victorian house to Heritage Park, and it was coming right by my library.

I kept popping in and out the door at the library to see if it was coming. No house. I got off work and peered down the street. No house. I went on down to Heritage Park to see what was happening, and the house wasn’t there yet either. Hal was, and he took me to lunch, regaled me with stories of his trip to China, and continued the stories as we drove in search of the house. We found it with a flat tire at Fifth and Robinson.

From this point on, the afternoon was one long wait for the house to arrive at the park. I felt positively decadent waiting while sitting in a white wicker chair on the verandah of the Heritage Park Bed and Breakfast. Gesturing with a champagne glass, I made polite conversation with Presidents, and past Presidents, and hanger-oners of the Historical Society. Otherworldly.

Finally, at almost six o’clock, just as the sun was going down and the evening chill began winning the upper hand, the McConaughy house started down the long, steep Juan Hill. Everyone was chattering and milling around in the fast growing dark.

Laughter.

“Remember the time the Sherman-Gilbert House almost fell on Carol?” Said one voice in the crowd.

Remember…“There was a car in the way, so they just stopped the house, and four men went over, picked the car up, moved it, and then they drove the house away.”

More laughter, “It was stuck up there at the top of the hill by a big tree. There would have been good clearance to get the house by if we had allowed them to take the bay window off, but this house was completely restored, and we really wanted to get it here intact. Nobody was home at the house with the tree, so the guys just got up on the roof and trimmed the tree down with a chain saw. Rip, Rip.” More laughter.

Down the hill came our house. It’s such a steep hill that I’m always afraid the houses will tip over. They don’t. In front came a big, old, red truck guiding the house with a long thick cable. In the rear two even larger trucks, engines panting, cables taut, braking this huge house down the hill…so slowly. It was a cacophony of creaks and groans, with engines roaring, whistles shrilling in the night, and horns and yells echoing from the hills around us. The whole thing, the house, trucks, noise, sky, darkness and flashing lights, was just to big to grasp in my mind all at once.

Once the house tilted through its final turn into the park and we saw it sitting safely on a flat patch of grass, we hurried home to change. Frank, Dorothy, Ba from the Planning Board, and I were the neighborhood claque in support of Dorothy’ neighbor, Al. He was making his first appearance as Harder in O’Neil’s “Moon for the Misbegotten” at the Globe. We wanted to be there for him. Though his part was small, and the heroine too brassy, it was worth the effort to go.

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