A student, probably one of the Chinese students from the Baruch Houses on the other side of the bridge, gave this dragon to Florence one year.
Word had gotten around in that immigrant enclave in the projects that an elderly teacher in Amalgamated on Broome Street gave $5 piano lessons to children and adults. By the end of her life, the majority of her student were Chinese-born or their children who were Chinese-American.
She offered the dragon to me at some point in the decline of her teaching. The ability to remember what each and every student was working on that week without reviewing her notes was no longer reliable and her knowledge of each family member and sibling terrifyingly erratic. It was OK to call me 'Louise' or 'Seymour' or 'YOU!' but to not remember a student's name was unacceptable.
There is a favorite Buddhist Gosho that states the call of the Sutra is like the roar of the lion. Therefore, what obstacle can't be overcome? This little dragon, which has resided on my alter since the day she gave it to me, is as close to a lion as I have. It reminds me not just to roar with fearlessness at the many real and imagined obstacles I face, but to roar in honor of Florence.
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.