The safety sought and occasionally found in Home haunted Florence and me for many years, often appearing in our reluctance to leave the house or the throwing out of old objects.
When attempting to introduce a bath mat that wasn't from 1963 or unstained shower curtains that actually matched, Florence's terror of losing something that reminded her of all her years in that apartment exploded in rage and heartbreak and pain, even though all I was doing was introducing a couple of clean shower curtains and a bath mat that wasn't a petrie dish.
But almost like a person who cringed before a camera fearful their soul was being captured, the tossing of her old belongings felt as if history was being ripped out of her. It took weeks of angry exchanges before one day without warning new things were suddenly Home.
In embracing odd and familiar beloved items from her estate - a spatula, a coffee table, the wine opener - I too felt parts of her and parts of me affirmed, still there, brought home. Each thing made my apartment feel like a safer place to be, a home where decades before in desperate hope the pain would end, I had repeatedly curled up in cupboards or corners or benches seeking a safe moment of Home. When O'Keefe suggested replacing her old oversize coffee table with another, I sobbed, the thought of losing what was left of Florence too great to bear.
Tonight as emails flew back and forth to the new person in what once was Florence's home, the kitten, found in a box in the rain on Queens Boulevard, sought a corner of Home for himself - my bag, which often signaled I was leaving him alone for too lonely too long an amount of time. This evening, hearing rain begin outside, without question or pondering he recognized the warm space he needed to have stay, a guarantee his mommy/can opener would stick around a bit longer and that he'd be safe for a while.
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.