The first week of 2016 found me at a cozy local restaurant, four friends who do our best to keep ties from disappearing completely even when time and circumstance bring separation. One of the women, a gifted poet/photographer/visual artist handed each of us a small box, wrapped and ribboned in her inimitable way.  “Just a little thing,” she said as we tore open the wrapping to find beautiful tiles, each a different image of a woman reminiscent to me of cameos. Aside from how lovely they were, she loved that they fit perfectly into little tin boxes she’d put them in.tile

We caught up on lots of things, including the daughters who really are responsible for bringing us together. How lucky we all know we were, in the early school years especially, when the public school our daughters attended was small and parent involvement (mothers more than fathers) as meaningful as it was welcome. None of our daughters lives nearby, a fact we rue even as we accept the nature of changing times. A fact, too, that makes 2015 something of a gift year for me—the first in the seven my daughter has lived on the Other Coast that my husband and I got to spend every major holiday with her. Passover had us flying to California for a West Coast family seder. A boyfriend working on a film based in New York brought her here, with the kind of timing you don’t often get. Labor Day was too close to Rosh Hashanah not to insist she stay. Then there was a friend’s wedding the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Christmas week was a given, what with it being a quiet time in the entertainment world.

A day earlier a friend from SoCal left after a visit that carried us through New Year’s weekend. It was a gift of a different kind, and I was admittedly touched by her wanting to visit. In the years we met via blog posts we wrote for an online site, our web of writers connected in ways beyond our words has grown. It is indeed the World Wide Web at its best. Her visit had a certain serendipity to it, from its timing (ring out the old/ring in the new) in the macro sense to the micro moments that marked it: There was Pavarotti’s voice filling my living room, bringing us to tears, as we sipped wine, the memory made even more pronounced by the woman singing opera under a bridge in Central Park on New Year’s Day. Minutes later would come a text exchange with my daughter.

Where are you? What’s the plan?

We’re in Central Park.

We’re in Central Park too!

Central Park is a big park, so what are the odds that she and her boyfriend were five minutes from where we were?Alice and Lew copy

We were a party now—my husband and me, my CalGal (Britton) and my BFF from NYC (Joan) who had joined us, my daughter and her boyfriend—on our way to Alice in Wonderland, a statue Sara climbed many times as a young girl when we lived in the city.

You reveal things about yourself in concentrated time with friends and family. Good a writer as Sara and Britton think I am, they’re now convinced there are parts of my past I would do well to tap, fictionally or otherwise. So when they left, how could I help looking through those albums of old clippings? I remembered well the piece I wrote about visiting Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise, but how could I have forgotten that I interviewed Patti Smith? To read through that interview just as I begin reading M Train is another kind of gift.Patti Smith interview 2

Life is riddled with disappointments and struggles, and, yes, joys, all of which I can’t help but internalize. My daughter suffers a disappointment, I take it personally. My husband is in pain, I’m frustrated at my inability to ease it. A friend is suffering, I give her my undivided attention in a phone conversation. Maybe it’s true, actions speak louder than words, in which case it makes all the sense in the world that my sense of self as a writer can’t help, at least sometimes, but defer to my sense of self as someone who takes care of people. Better yet, doesn’t
each sense of self feed off the other?

All of which makes it all the more uncanny to get three particular books for my birthday, not to birthday giftsmention Bruce Springsteen’s latest compilation, which I get to enjoy on the sound system of that
spiffy new car (if you missed the birthday surprise video in Sara’s last post, trust me, it’s priceless). And if there’s a message here, maybe it’s this, a gift in its own right: those who love me won’t let me forget who I am. Even as I write what I think are the last words of this piece on the very day of a rock icon’s death, a friend sends me a text: You will write something that weaves in David Bowie, won’t you?


8 thoughts on “Gifts

  1. I’m so glad you had such a wonderful time with Britton and Elizabeth! It’s pretty incredible that we all started as cyber friends and now we actually manage to see each other in person. It looks as if you’ve just been having way too much fun! xxoo

    • It is incredible, isn’t it — although some people might say it’s the gift of the universe trying to tell us something 🙂

  2. I cannot help but connect to this post in a deep way. Being there was one of the great gifts of my lifetime, truly. I have been having micro-ephiphanies each day since, and marvel over and over again at how it was the opening of your heart and your home that is responsible for them.

    I am eager to see what 2016 has in store for you, for our friends, for me, even as my dreams tumble through the end of 2015 (trees, bottles, laughter, yoga, music, friends new and old) and the beginning of 2016 (more trees, more laughter, more friends, my first look at The Starry Night, Picasso’s sculptures, and a womanless Klimt I hadn’t known of before).

    May your writing soar higher than ever this year my friend!

    • You were there, indeed . . . and the moment you left I kept thinking about the ways in which you would process all the richness of the trip, so perfectly timed. Here’s to your soaring creativity,too, dear friend.

  3. Thank you, dear Deborah, for your wonderful and touching words. You always get right straight to the heart of things. XO

    • Thank you for your thoughts, dear Christine, not to mention your myriad gifts. Like I said, seeing you intermittently is a reminder of how much I miss you.

  4. ***those who love me won’t let me forget who I am.***

    Beautiful, insightful, amazing post ( as usual )

    How wonderful to have friends who won’t let you forget!!! xx

    • And I’m grateful indeed, Kim. It means a lot, too, to know that what I write touches you.

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