This is my first attempt at Writer’s Island. This weeks prompt is Second Chance.
As always I thank Bone for the words.
Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the first attack on The Trade Center. I will never forget either attack. The fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq is quickly coming. We’re not honoring the dead by remaining in Iraq.
My printer is throwing a fit so I almost run to FedEx/Kinko’s on a very gentrified West 72nd Street. When it was just Kinko’s I used to feel I was in a Al Pacino movie, and would look for all the lonely crazy people. My cable was down more than it was up when I was a reporter and I thought it would be a fate worse than death not to have friends I could wake up at midnight to use their computer when I had just seen a movie and had a six AM deadline. I couldn’t imagine being in Kinko’s through the night. It seemed so transient.
I have had many second chances in life. It almost seems unfair to be constantly reinventing my careers. Same city–three apartments, same friends, but oh so many careers.
There is only one career I crave and I crave it so much I feel like a vampire sucking blood. Who am I to think I can make it as a writer? Lately I have been reading so many good blogs I think I’m not even a ripple.
On March 5, I will take a 90 minute plane ride to a new world for me.
90 minutes by plane but a world away. A new life. A new chance. I won’t be stressing about things costing more every day, or a woman yelling in Fairway:
You, you deserve to die.
I have no idea why she pointed to me and said that. Neither did the other people waiting on the long line. I could understand the man who screamed at me as I almost went to his check out counter instead of the one just across from it.
He told me that I owed him an apology. I didn’t think so, and I’m the former princess now queen of apologizes. I had already told him I was sorry. He wanted something more. Something neither I nor the other people in Fairway could have given him.
I accept people going crazy in Fairway. It’s built so that the aisles are too small and everything looks dirty though the fish is always ranked first in freshness, least in mercury, etc.
I know people who won’t shop there as they don’t want to be yelled at. They want to be distant from the fracas yet really all life in Manhattan is frazzled.I accept Fairway as a normal part of Upper West Side life.
When push comes to shove, and it does all the time there, do I have to accept it?
I write about Fairway too much as it’s the bane and justification of my existence.
The years immediately preceding and subsequent to 9/11 were the worst of my life. My mother was rapidly aging. She was the person I had always gone to for advice, for validation. She wasn’t at all demented but blind. People treated her as if she was demented. Sometimes they didn’t but she thought they did. It didn’t matter. I heard it all. I had no filter that separated her feelings from mine. I tried to consider her feelings. She tried to consider mine. Yet so many times we didn’t act considerate of each other.
I worked in a nursing home. Surrounded by old age I almost became old myself. I felt adrift and alienated from almost everybody. It should have been easy, for me, to find help to deal with my conflicted feelings. The professionals in the nursing home couldn’t understand how I could let my mother live alone.
I would quote them to them. “She has capability in all areas but sight.” They would tell me that if it were their mother they would insist she live in an assisted living facility or a nursing home. “But you’re the ones literally writing the book on the many types of capability. Don’t you understand, stubbornness? Vanity? The want to live an independent life? I can’t tell a woman with capabilty in almost all areas where to live” No, not in this case. She was blind. That she could distinguish medications by putting different sized rubber bands on the bottles–a home care agency test of cognizance–didn’t matter.
That she was sharp and mindful of all possible problems didn’t matter. Didn’t I know I was a bad daughter?
Therapists outside the nursing home would tell me I had to separate. I knew that but how? I didn’t live with my mother. There were five mandatory phone calls a day. If I didn’t call at exactly nine AM she would get sick to her stomach. They didn’t know what I could do. They just knew her dependence on me wasn’t healthy. I knew that also. They refused to believe I was also dependent. I seemed so strong. I stopped believing in therapy. I knew this wasn’t an easy problem but I needed support. I needed to feel that I was a worthy person.
Oh sweet irony. I had gone into this field to learn how adult children and parents could get along. I had gone into the field to look for new ways of housing when people became old. I had gone into it with many expectations that people didn’t want to consider then.
Now the news is filled with this problem. Then I felt so alone. After her death, shortly after 9/11 I felt guilt, sadness, despair. Nothing but time could heal this.
I became the person I hated. I became a person who screamed in Fairway. My gait is slightly off. It’s not noticeable except when I’m tired or my psyche is worn out. I would bump into people. They would scream. I would scream back.
The supposed 9/11 affect of people becoming nicer; the halo that was supposed to have surrounded this city; it bypassed me. I felt as if I had become a punching bag for everybody with any problem to dump on.
Later I was to realize that no matter how horrible the problem we have a responsibility to only let it out at the right times. That there were few right times then–that this was a city in deep mourning—I truly should have understood that. Yet my need to mourn my mother should have been acknowledged.
I was right in giving up the friends who told me to stop mourning after six days. But I made my other friends responsible for my happiness and that’s always wrong. I felt so sad and distant from the world that once seemed to belong to me.
It was my straight male friends, and one great girlfriend, who were there for me. I can never participate in straight male bashing. One was physically present whenever I truly needed somebody to cry to. He would drive me where I needed to go, and basically translate my language of despair and need to our friends.
Another knew how to make me laugh. He has known me most of my life and knows I would rather laugh than cry, and needed people who understood that.
I hope that there is never another terrorist attack or Katrina type emergency. But if there is all people affected should be given counseling if they want it
I have moved past mourning my mother. Still I needed continuity. My city, the one constant in my life other than family and friends, was quickly changing into a city I no longer knew.
My best girlfriend would walk the streets with me and point out how many people bumped into me and yet I would be the one to apologize. That gave them license to yell at me. She pointed this out and pointed it out until I understood apologizes were unnecessary. Not everything in the world was my fault. I will always love her for that and much more.
The first time I was able to go into Fairway without feeling scared that I would blow up was my biggest victory in my adult life.
I came back to myself. I’m an improved version as I have gone through the eye of too many storms that hit back to back. I did come out of the funnels stronger.
I never yell in Fairway. Even this past Sunday when the store was wall to wall people, when I was told I deserved to die–something I had thought in the horrible years–even when the man thought my “sorry” wasn’t enough, I smiled.
I don’t want to use all my energy just getting through the day.
This past decade wasn’t all horrible. I watched two young girls turn into wonderful young women. I became closer to my true friends. I met many new people. I learned that America consists of more than the NorthEast Corridor, South Florida, and SoCal.
I learned that despite my disability, dyspraxia/non verbal learning disorder, I can move where ever I want to. I learned that I can take the best of me and make it better.
I have a chance, a true and planned chance at a new life. It hasn’t hit me yet. I don’t really understand that once I sell my apartment and buy something new, my expenses will be cut drastically. It hasn’t hit that when people in North Myrtle say something is crowded, I have to look–and never really find–the crowds.
It hasn’t hit that I will live in comfort with a dishwasher, washer/dryer and things other people take for granted. And it won’t cost more than $1200 a month above the purchase price.
Outside of New York I can focus on what’s important to me. I know the first six months or so will be difficult. I will be selling one apartment and looking for a townhouse to buy. A townhouse, a place with steps and room. It feels like a fairytale. It’s not
More importantly, New York, is the city of too many memories. I find myself reframing my mother’s final years. I wasn’t a bad daughter. I was a daughter who helped allow my mother to live her final years with the dignity she so badly wanted. Somehow it’s easier to understand that outside of New York.
New York was my dream city in my 20’s and 30’s. I have changed. New York has changed. Change is good. Change keeps cities thriving and people growing. New York has a chance to remake it into the model international city. I have a chance to devote my time to my passions, and I have many.
Really I’m just a simple girl from Long Island gone country.
I can’t comment right now so don’t feel the need to. ..