The cat doesn't understand Dutch and only begrudgingly shares his couch corner with her. He is tolerating our three decades plus ability to spite over 3000 miles of ocean and land in order to talk non-stop about every single person in our lives, whether we both know them or not. It doesn't matter. What we do know is the air and light and sound of each others' city, the laugh of the ex-lover and the cooking skills of the current one, the lilt of a family member's voice, the rubble left from a parent's failure at care.
She is the one, who after Florence died, gently coaxed, "Don't chew," and each time I returned to that night and redid my actions like it would change history, I would hear her. "Don't chew," I'd repeat and again let go of my delusion I could make the past different just by raging at it.
There is much to cover in her few days in New York. In between rationing out dozen of pieces of licorice and taking one of our meandering walks that now illuminates another land than the one she visited in 1982, we re-become each other's diaries. It is too dangerous to commit to any evidence, in Dutch or English, where we have buried the bodies of our many adventures, unless of course we write it as fiction.
So we recount to one another, relieved the memories will die along with us. She does the remembering of events. I do the remembering of emotional processes. It had been a similar division of work when, as young women, we traveled together. I could remember how, in the appropriate language, to ask where the auto bus was and she could understand the answer.
Now, we are the old ladies we once peered at when we were twenty-two. We grumble about young people and their cell phones. We discuss preparations necessary for illness and funerals. We say, "Leave that for me in your will" or "I will leave that for you in my will". We try on much different fashion than we did years ago, enjoying styles that only adults used to wear. We no longer drink Southern Comfort or Jenever. Although I'm still open to it. We exchange, no matter what, breakable heavy objects to carry back to home.
In the whirl of time, we hold each others' footsteps, the ones we took towards love, through loss and then back into unexpected life again, and we bear witness for one another of how amazing and surprising life turned out to be.
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.