They've been across the street for as long as I remembered to look out the window.
A balcony above the Japanese restaurant, filled with plants and two chairs and sometimes a few pieces of laundry.
Her blonde Sir Lancelot haircut, a bear comfort to her body. Him, dark maybe South East Asian, salt and pepper through his short afro and, like her, also a bear in his body.
On summer days I watched her putter around the plants and in winter I watched the two of them on Second Avenue with their sturdy knapsacks out of place in the crowd of young sex-in-the-city-wannabees and very rich kids pretending to have not enough money to buy un-beat-up clothes. As they wove in and out of cell-phone conversations and sauntering Ugg boots there was a shared a graceful lumber that spoke of many years walking side by side in comfort and companionship.
And then I stopped seeing her. Only him, knapsack firmly in place. For a long, long time. The balcony stayed empty. The plants still there but not the laundry. Years.
A couple of days ago, there she was.
On an early weekend morning of quiet before the young neighborhood woke up. What I had wondered or feared or suspected may have been true. Her hair now gray-white and her face gaunt, she stood still on the balcony in an old cotton sleeveless house dress. And he gently cut her hair. I watched this haircut become as intimate as the dance they walked together.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.