Maybe I was 10 or 11. My father had not been transferred out to Long Island yet so we had no car. I don't think he even knew how to drive until the transfer. And the only person I knew who did own a car was the uncle of a little boy I played with. That uncle's car had windows that rolled up and down on their own. The uncle's hands rolled up and down on their own as well. Since he hadn't been around the neighborhood in years there were no cars to speak of in my every day life.
Until that Mother's Day.
Paula's father had a car. I am not sure how we all knew where to meet or who was going (since using the telephone was expensive and discouraged in my house) but somehow I weedled my way into the crowded back seat with the girls from the better co-ops by the river so that we could all travel uptown to buy our mothers a mother's day present. A plant.
Prior to this particular Mother's Day, presents consisted of a bottle of perfume that had a tiger skin covered cap and a pair of cooking tongs (used for the next 40 years - don't know about the perfume). After this particular Mother's Day, presents consisted of Mom's request we stop calling her Mom and start calling her Florence.
But on this Mother's Day 'Mom' and presents were still allowed and to have a rare car ride included in the mix was heavenly.
It was cloudy and even a bit cold. The streets were empty and this little store was the only thing open on the block. The selection was dazzling. But to this day I have no memory if I bought anything or not, knowing Florence's dread of any living being that might require her attention. I also have no idea how I had any money, it being highly unlikely my father would have given me any. A vague shimmer of a little cactus for a $1 sometimes swims in my eyes. Regardless, those lost details seemed so unimportant compared to the adventure itself.
And then as all things do, things changed. Mom became Florence, home became other places and plants became exotic and exciting pets that didn't need to be fed every day. I'm not exactly sure when this happened, but one day, a few decades in to living where I now live, I realized the beautiful little plant store around the corner was the very spot of that rare day.
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.