Ruth would organize buses for like 150 people from the Henry Street Settlement to go to Jones Beach and once she got everyone settled, she and Florence would lounge by the ocean and talk about anything and everything.
So the other day Ruth had to get her hair cut and I wanted her to talk to these documentary people and Laurel wanted to catch up.
We TRIED to keep up with Ruth but the second we turned away, Ruth was gone and we went up and down Madison Street, going into every hair salon and using every word we knew in Spanish. By the third place we were asking in almost full sentences.
Didn't matter. Nobody had seen her.
So we went back to the benches to catch up.
And while we were there, I took this picture because I couldn't get a picture of the rat that was HOPPING across the grass because it was HOPPING too fast.
Did I mention the rat was HOPPING? With a huge piece of something red in its mouth.
You'd take a picture of the sky too.
Here's the thing about sitting on the bench. Eventually, everyone stops to talk to you.
Including this couple. AND RUTH. who had gotten her hair cut in a salon by the bridge on
Madison which is why we didn't find her - she just went further than us. Let's face it. Ruth goes further than all of us. But she was tired and she didn't want to go to any documentary film thing but she'd sit on the bench and if they called, then she'd go....
And everybody started talking about so-and-so and the heart attack on Essex Street and they had been together 40 years, two men a real marriage, a good one, he's now in a can in the living room....
Are you getting the His-and-Her's shopping carts? Laurel whispers to me? Are you writing this all down?
Forget it! You could get sued for writing this shit down. You gotta hide it in a story and call it fiction.
... what? who's gonna ask if he was Jewish or not? They asked? They asked, he didn't lie and now he, I NEVA HEARD OF A SON, how was the broccoli today, how much for the cut? Only $14 but I think he wants me to come back, usually she's open, it's prom season, I paid $18, it adds up with the tint, the shopping cart is from Amazon but look it goes this way that way, he's coming in from New Jersey, you think that pumpkin pie is going to cut itself....
...Just as everyone agreed that the shopping cart was fine even if the
front wheels did go this way that way and wild salmon in a can was delicious
with a little vinegar and onion.... Ruth finally said, look are they
going to interview me for that documentary or what...
....and that's when they said come on by we're ready for you. And Ruth told them a story about her life and our neighborhood.
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.