1. Yesterday, breakfast with Tracy and Tina at the Village Den. A few bites into my bagel, I was aware of talking more, laughing more, than I've talked and laughed in days. (Weeks?) Maybe that was Tracy and Tina, whom it’s always great to see.
2. My bullshit detector seems to be extra refined right now. As unsentimental as a teenager, I keep thinking. Or: Exposed on a high ledge in full light, as Anne Carson says. How long will it last? In Manhattan the other night an actory bearded guy in a V-neck T strutted toward us on the crosswalk. In any other state, I'd have enjoyed the way he was chomping away on his gum, performing himself as if he were a sexy electrician from Ronkonkoma (that's Long Island) and not another Chelsea boy.
(At the same time my eyes filled up yesterday upon hearing a concert version of Laura Nyro's "To a Child," a song I'd always dismissed as indulgent.)
3. The sky above the funeral home on the night of my mother's viewing.
Afterward, for some reason, I bought a picture frame at Walgreens.
4. This from my friend Denise this morning:
I had a dream about you last night but I can't remember the details,
only that it was midsummer, very hot and we took your mom to the
boardwalk. I ate a piece of pizza which she told me I shouldn't if I
was going on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Did I listen? No. You, your mom and I
got on the Tilt-A-Whirl. We screamed. I threw up after we got off.
She said, "See?" It was a great dream!!!!
5. A picture my brother Michael found over the weekend. (That's Michael in her arms.) When did she ever look like this?
6. On Memorial Day of--04? 05?--I'd made plans to meet my parents at the old summerhouse on the Jersey Shore, near Ocean City. I showed up at Port Authority and the lines to the Atlantic City buses were dozens deep--and rowdy. I went instead to Penn Station, where I caught the first train to Bay Head, an hour and a half from the house. I knew it was going to be an effort for my parents to get to Bay Head. They weren't familiar with that part of the shore, and besides, the traffic on the Garden State Parkway would likely be at a standstill. Still, they made it to the station, if only a little late. I still see the dark green minivan creeping toward me as it turned the corner.
At a certain point I'd vowed never to travel on Memorial Day again.
We had a nice weekend. We went to a Chinese restaurant. We might have taken a ride to look at our old beach. We bought strawberries. We watched the boats going by from the front deck. When it was time to leave the next day, however, my mother hugged me on the back step. She started crying, then holding me harder. I felt myself freeze. "What's wrong?" I probably said, but she shook her head briskly; her hand made a flapping motion. Her face screwed up, as if she'd been sucking on a piece of lemon. Then she recovered herself. I hadn't yet known that she was losing parts of her memory by then; out of shame, she'd kept it from us until she couldn't anymore. What was she forgetting? My name? Where she'd left her scissors? Her brush? But maybe it was just that the house needed painting. My father was already climbing the ladder to the roof, and there was still a whole summer ahead for her.