Remember

The unspeakable has happened. Tuesday morning, while I watched the Today Show with O nursing in my lap, two airplanes were hijacked and deliberately flown into the Twin Towers. I saw the second plane hit live on television, as they were already covering the first crash and all you could see of it was smoke billowing out of the first tower. Then out of the corner of the screen came the second plane, crashing into the other tower with a tremendous flash of light and smoke and orange flame. Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were reporting live on the first impact, on the phone with witnesses describing what they saw, when the second impact occurred. It was absolutely unbelievable.

Hundreds of rescue workers, firefighters, and police officers rushed to the scene as people fled the two towers, both aflame as monstrous clouds of smoke filled the air. And, as we continued to watch, one tower and then the other collapsed in what seemed like slow motion in a huge pile of ash and rubble. The streets below were blackened as the sun of what was otherwise a beautiful September morning was snuffed out and replaced with thick smoke and millions of paper and ash fell like gray blizzard. I sat incredulous, my heart pounding, fearful for the city I loved and the thousands who surely lost their lives. Many escaped, but many more lost their lives.

There were cell phone calls from people still trapped in the rubble, begging to be found. I think five or six have been pulled out alive so far – one, a fireman who had made it to the 82nd floor when it collapsed. His survival is an absolute miracle. Another man who was in Tower 2 heard the explosion and saw the smoke from the first tower and heard an announcement that the fire was contained to Tower 1 and they could all return to their offices. He chose to leave Tower 2 anyway.

Many others received calls from loved ones who were trapped, saying they couldn’t get out and that they loved them. Still others were jumping out of windows from top floors, some in pairs and hand-in-hand. Think about that. Imagine jumping out of your second story bedroom window in a fire… what would you break? Would you survive? Now multiply that exponentially… these people jumped from 80+ floors.

News outlets captured that footage. And I cannot imagine what went through those folks’ minds when they made a primal decision. Those news outlets were later criticized for televising the sight, and sound, of bodies hitting cars on the streets below. One newspaper printed a large photo of a man falling head first to his death. There are no words to adequately describe any of this.

Family members of passengers on the two hijacked planes received calls saying goodbye, before they were cut off. There were two other hijacked planes – one crashed into the Pentagon and the other crashed in rural Pennsylvania. Apparently the passengers on that plane, having heard from loved ones on the ground about the previous crashes, tried to overcome the terrorists, thus ending in a fiery crash in PA. Government officials are certain the intended target was the White House.

This is the single most horrifying thing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. It has been compared to the attack on Pearl Harbor. I’ve cried intermittently when O was sleeping or otherwise engaged; it’s all so scary and so unbelievable, and we’re all wondering what’s next? The Twin Towers that defined the New York City skyline, the towers I looked to on my way into the Holland Tunnel as I arrived for school or some other excursion, are gone. Our sense of security – shattered.

All of television is covering these events, engraving the images of horror and destruction into my mind. As I watch my infant son sleeping peacefully on my lap, I am grateful for now that he is too young and oblivious to this attack on America that has halted ALL air traffic in the United States. That night I held him close to me in the darkness of my bedroom, staring at the stars in the eerily quiet night sky, the news drifting to my ears from the TV in the living room. Outside, on the balcony, I hear… nothing. Nothing at all breaks the impossible, deafening silence of the night.

We have not had a reprieve from the constant images. It’s been steady and continuous for 52 hours now. The downtown looks like a war zone. The Stock Exchange is closed. All national sporting events have been postponed. The city itself was shut down Tuesday in the aftermath – no one was getting in or out. The bridges and tunnels were closed in both directions and all rail service, above and below ground, was halted. Thousands of people walked home to Brooklyn and Queens, over the bridges, on foot.

Locally, the King of Prussia Mall was closed and security was tightened at “the highest level” at all nuclear power plants – including our own Limerick generating station, which is scary because we’re less than 15 minutes away.

A third building collapsed – 7 World Trade Center – due to damage from the Twin Towers and uncontrolled fires. Two others are reported to be in danger of collapse.

Friday morning

Raining. Rescuers and volunteers continue to work around the clock, searching inch-by-excruciating-inch for survivors, as they uncover bodies and in some cases only parts of bodies. The rain has turned the rubble into something like the consistency of oatmeal, or quicksand, complicating efforts. We continue to be bombarded non-stop by images of the attacks, the aftermath, and of family members fearfully clutching photos of loved ones they haven’t heard from since Tuesday morning. It’s painful to watch, devastating to behold. Estimates have 4,763 missing.

The news outlets continue to dominate the airwaves, alternating back and forth between local and national anchors, with absolutely no other news unrelated to the terrorist attacks. There have been NO COMMERCIALS – at all – since Tuesday morning before this tragedy. No other programming.

No one has come forward to claim responsibility and, though he has categorically denied any involvement, Osama bin Laden has applauded the acts. Afghanistan, whose citizens were captured on video celebrating the mass destruction, is known to harbor terrorists including bin Laden. This is beginning to sound like the dawn of a new war.

I am frightened. I am angry. I laid down beside my son and watched him sleep, feeling helpless that I could neither explain to him nor protect him from any of this happening again. How can I? It’s scary to think of another war – afraid to watch my son grow up in a world full of such chaos and uncertainty. Afraid of losing friends, family, even myself. How do we move forward after this?

 

2,974 victims died in the initial attacks. More than 1,400 rescue workers have since died from cancers and other conditions caused by the aforementioned exposure to toxins in the dust (asbestos, lead, mercury) from the collapsed buildings.

No one survived at or above the impact in the North Tower – 1,402 people. In the South Tower, 614 died at/above the level of impact; 18 survived by using stairwell A.

125 died at the Pentagon.

245 died on the four airplanes (not counting the hijackers).

 

 

 

 

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New York Chronicles – September 8, 1989

dugout

Photo credit belongs to Jason Fernau, via Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York website.

Last night was a riot. We went first to the Dugout, a neighborhood bar two blocks away from the dorm. Three steps down into the brightly lit bar, its façade lending the impression of an old English pub with wood shingles and a single gable window above the door, and standing room only among the wooden tables. Three frosty drafts went down like water and Alena and Daphne decided we were going to MKay’s.

MKay’s is midtown and more upscale and it was crowded with well-dressed people. We detoured downstairs to the lower level which was more clubby and darker with the flashing lights of DJs and dance music. We met these Italian guys from Milan, which was about the only thing any of them said that I could make out since I think they had about a dozen English words between the three of them. Two more beers went down and it was hilarious – the six of us struggling to have a conversation above the booming music and soon it was just lame.

Getting up for work this morning was rough, and I was still nauseous. I worked from 8 to 4, with an hour lunch break which was great because I really needed the fresh air. The area I work in is basically in the basement, with a separate entrance from the main Admissions office upstairs; we’re kind of like the worker trolls hidden in the basement. I swear I’m going to spend a lot of time underground in New York, and I’m not talking about the “edgy” side of the city.

My boss is nice enough but strange as a three-legged bird, and I haven’t yet figured out which eye to focus on when I talk to her. She’s tough but not unkind. Kind of like a retired military sergeant. Her husband, who works there too and I’m not sure exactly what he does, is a dead ringer for Howdy Doody, and equally as strange. He has an off-color sense of humor that I’m sure isn’t appropriate for the work place, and more than likely he’s got a closet full of bondage paraphernalia at home, or he’s a serial killer. Which, when I think about it, makes it very difficult for me to look him in the eye.

 

**Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York is a favorite of mine. There’s also a Facebook page and a published book. It makes me very nostalgic for the New York of my twenties.

New Year’s Eve, Then and Now

1985                         

16 and 17, respectively. Most likely our first official date.

Lying on the floor in my attic bedroom, listening to Prince on my stereo rack in the glass case… Purple Rain, Controversy, For You… talking about whatever teenagers talk about when they’re falling in love and getting to know more about each other.

His brown hair was soft and long, mine was long and curly. Two pairs of brown eyes meeting shyly and intensely across the space between us on the floor.

My parents were downstairs watching TV. I guess they weren’t worried about the daughter two floors up alone with a boy in her bedroom. They didn’t have to be.

We may have had snacks and sodas, I don’t remember.

We may have also cuddled close on that floor, kissing and feeling all the butterflies and fireworks, and falling irrevocably in love.

We may have also had the TV on, watching but not watching Dick Clark and the ball eventually drop, signaling the time for him to go home, because he couldn’t stay.

I went to bed, aching for him in that way that teens in love do, and couldn’t fall sleep.

 

2018

49 and 50, respectively. Our 9th New Year’s Eve together.

We sat at the table with grilled filet and baked potatoes, drinking a bottle of Wente Cab by candlelight, in an otherwise empty house.

He put on one of our MP3 lists, with Scandalous Prince. We talked about our families, those still with us and those who are not. We talked about all the dogs that came before Pi and Sabra, and how neither of us wants to love and lose another pet.

We talked about our plans for the future, airfare, and practical stuff like house renovations, and the next poker party.

His brown hair is short today. So is mine. Maybe his a bit thinner than it was in 1985, and shades of gray peeking through. My hair is a reflection of my original color; otherwise it would be heavily gray.

We sat on the couch and snuggled close and took selfies. I joked we should lie on the floor and make out; he said great idea, until we have to get up off the floor.

We watched Dark Matter on Netflix. The cousins in Oregon called and we had a lovely, long conversation.

We climbed into bed sometime near 11:30, and I fell asleep just 15 minutes before the ball dropped.

 

Cabo San Lucas – The End

Chapter 3

January 19, 1991  Sábado

My baja California trip is over. I’m sitting now in the Phoenix airport, sometime around 5 p.m. Only SEVEN hours until I board my next flight – to Philadelphia. Customs went okay – not quite as bad as Greece was. I thought I’d found the perfect spot to plant myself – game room, snack bar, lounge, Haagan Daas, gift shop – until the snack bar closed. At five o’clock. Mom would stow her bags and venture out into Phoenix. I thought about it for a split second, but I’m way too hungover.

I was awakened this morning at the ungodly hour of 7:30, from another bizarre dream, by the ever crowing rooster, a pesky mosquito that tried to fly up my nose, and a need for the bathroom. A couple of old Mexican women came by later, selling Bibles door to door. I don’t know if the Bibles are in English though.

Yesterday Mom and I went shopping and I bought a silver bracelet and a pair of earrings. We ate lunch afterward at the Giggling Marlin, which is probably my favorite place. Mom ordered a Mexican coffee, and when I took a sip something flew up the straw and into my mouth. A fucking fly!! She said I went white, and both she and the waitress had a big laugh at my expense for swallowing a “mosca!” It was NOT funny.

We walked around town a bit and stopped at the Rio Grill. We were having a good time, drinking cerveza (lots of cerveza), a live band started to play, and we ended up making new friends. Kelly, about my age, was a tall, model-like blonde who was super nice.  John was a 40-ish retired boatman from Southern Cal who really liked mom a lot. He introduced me to Eric, 24 and very very cute, who he himself had just met that day. Eric told me he was from Montreal, traveling around.

The four of us decided to go to Squid Roe to party some more. John was a trip! Eric and I danced forever, cervezas in hand. John said he’d introduce me to Tico Torres, who was there, though it never happened. Finally left there sometime around 3 and, suddenly hungry, mom and I bought these killer hamburgers from a food vendor right outside the bar. I tallied my drinks and it amounted to about a half-case of beer.

Which is why I’m sitting in the Phoenix airport now, horribly hung over and trembling from dehydration, sporting shorts, a minor tan, and my motorcycle jacket and wishing I didn’t have over 6 hours left until I can board some plane that will only take me as far as Philly. Then I have to figure out how to get to 30th Street Station before dawn to catch the train that will take me home to New York. I’ll finally be home, just 18 hours from now.

It was a great trip though. Anything but a tourist trap, it was charming in its simplicity and the lack of obnoxious crowds. Cabo is the antithesis of Cancun, the only other Mexico destination I have to compare it with. It’s like night and day. They’re building this enormous luxury hotel on Boulevard Marina (the main street running through town), currently just a shell, and it makes me wonder how these high rise hotels will change this sleepy little town.

Cabo San Lucas – Chapter 2

Chapter 1

Two days later.

I didn’t feel too hot on the flight to San Jose del Cabo and there was this very strange man sitting next to me, and then he was on the same bus to Cabo San Lucas. Gave me the creeps. It was dark when I arrived so I didn’t see much, and of course I was flooded with anxiety that mom wouldn’t be at the bus station when I arrived.

We go to bed really early here – like between 8 and 9:30 and get up about those same hours in the morning. Twelve hours of sleep! It’s actually much cooler than I expected. We sleep with our mass of blankets and in the same clothing we sleep in at home this time of year. However, during the day the sun is quite hot.

The house is nice – it’s not a luxury villa, but more like a home we’d actually live in if we lived here. It’s roomy, with high ceilings, but not too large for us. We each have our own bedroom. There are tiled floors throughout. The living room is cozy; waist-high shelves run the length of one wall and are filled with books. The kitchen, to the right of the living room, has everything you need to prepare your own meals. We share a large bathroom which, lucky me, is right next to my bedroom. There’s a patio off the kitchen with a charcoal grill, and chairs for sitting.

We walked into town yesterday and had lunch at the Giggling Marlin. I had this killer chicken burrito. We shared an order of french fries. Mom had soup and a margarita. I hear they’re exceptionally strong here. One is enough to put you eye level with the table.

We walked around after lunch and saw some incredible hotels, some under construction, found an open-air market with silver jewelry and tableware. Everything is pretty cheap here. Right now it’s about 3,000 pesos to the dollar, which sounds like a lot – especially when you’re buying orange juice for 8,500 pesos. We also went to the supermercado for food.

The village is cute. Small, but cute. Very quiet. Not crowded. Nothing like the “other” Mexico I’ve been to (Cancun). Everything is dirt here – practically no paved roads – so there is a thin brown dust that coats everything. Wipe off any plates or glassware on the restaurants’ tables. There are scruffy dogs that lie in the dirt everywhere, outside the restaurants, in the streets – and in the heat of the day. Makes you wonder, are they dead or alive?

As we made our way back to the house on one of the side streets, a huge truck full of day laborers rumbled by, blasting I’ve Got the Power. This struck me funnier than anything I’d seen so far. These trucks come and pick the men up every morning at a location just down the street from our house. Dozens of them waiting, pile into the back of an enormous truck. In the late afternoon, they return, dusty and sweaty and dirty. They, unlike their American counterparts, are polite and friendly, not catcalling balls of testosterone.

We met two guys on the way – one from British Columbia and the other from Sacramento – who’ve been living here for several months. They helped carry our groceries back and talked for a bit longer. I don’t know how they knew each other, but this place is sorta like that. People just come and hang and get lost.

The bugs here are abundant, and everywhere. We have teeny tiny ants here and there and various flying insects. And, since I’m mosquito bait, you can well imagine I’m starting to look like a malaria victim. And they itch like hell…

The man who owns this house left a guest log for everyone who stays here to write in. It is hands-down one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. There are hilarious anecdotes, stories, a lot of drunken reports, and advice about the house, the people, the town, and even the car. Yes, the house comes with a car, and there are various accounts of it in the book; however, it broke down on mom’s way to pick me up and we won’t get it back until tomorrow. Walking is nice, but unlike New York, it loses its appeal after a few days.

One entry was a list of dos and don’ts titled, Uptonian Advice for Good Times in Cabo (or, “safety hints”). To give credit where credit is due, his name was John Upton, and was entered in the log between May 12 and May 18, 1990:

X marks the spot

Fat cats from hell bite – beware

Beach cruisers and tequila equal pain

Avoid security force at Sol Mar Hotel, especially when naked

Stay off the roof – you’ll know soon enough. Have a beer.

Bacardi stings less than alcohol and cleans a cut just as good

Never turn your back on a wave, especially at 3 a.m.

Giggling Marlins also swallow (Have absolutely no idea what this means, and don’t think I want to)

Don’t take any money with you to Blandro because after a few shots and beers you may be tempted to spend it.

Run! if you hear a local mumble something like “seestir.”
Seems like sound advice, while raising a few more questions. A lot of entries mentioned the proliferation of wild dreams, blaming it on the environment, desert sun, and unadulterated tequila. I myself have had more than a fair share of trips down the rabbit hole in my sleep.

Last night I dreamed that I caused an argument with this girl and her mother and then the girl came back to kill me. And she almost did before I woke up. Fell back to sleep again and was running through Central Park with Sam, something about showing him the scenic route, and then suddenly I was at the mall with E who was looking for a sweater she wanted that was actually pretty ugly, and then I woke up again with a terrible pain in my stomach because I had to pee.

*****

About 9 p.m. now, although I don’t really have a clue of what time it really is. We started to cook dinner around 7:30 – fired up the little grill outside on the back patio and grilled Mom’s marinated chicken breasts and ate them with a small salad. It must be the weather – I don’t feel very hungry here.

 

Cabo San Lucas – Chapter 1

January 11, 1991

It’s not quite 8 a.m. yet. I’ve been up since five. I’m on the plane to Pittsburgh, ready for takeoff. I’m not quite as nervous as I thought I would be, although this is only the beginning of a long trip which won’t end until twelve hours from now. We’re expecting 3-6 inches of snow here in Philly, though looking out my window now I don’t see any flakes. The sky is gray and white.

*****

In the Pittsburgh airport now, waiting to board my next plane. Interesting group of people on this plane. This is flight 9 to Phoenix. Arizona. I’ve never been anywhere near Arizona.

I love the feeling of the plane when it takes off – racing down the runway, thrusting your body against the seat. The chair absorbs you, cradles you. The flight attendant is handing out blankets. Blankets. I’m sweating. It’s raining lightly here in Pittsburgh, with a little slush on the runway. My hands are trembling from that coffee I had back in Philly.

Hello Pilot! He’s talking to us now, in that slow droning voice that sounds like he’s been smoking weed in the lounge. They have television monitors for instructions – too funny! I’ve never seen anything like this. Some people are cracking up.

*****

Later…

The pilot just informed us we are directly over Kansas. You should see the ground below. It’s amazing – looks like a giant marble floor. Or a marble chess board. Sam would like that. He’s asked me a dozen times already if I play chess, and my answer never changes. He wanted me to go skiing over break. Does he even remember that I don’t ski?

This past week I was sick, and only got sicker, which prompted me to go to the doctor. Who looked in my ears, nose, and throat, and told me I had a minor sinus infection. The inside of my nose is “pretty irritated,” he said, LIKE I didn’t know that already. It’s fuckin raw is what it is! I had a nosebleed in New York, which I forgot about but then why the hell would I want to remember that?

I had lunch with E yesterday at Ridgley’s. Everybody turned and stared when we walked in. I guess they’ve never seen a motorcycle jacket before. I had forgotten my tissues before leaving the house, so I had to carry my roll of toilet paper in from my car. The waitress looks at it and then asks me did I carry that in with me? It’s a goddamned roll of toilet paper, freaking Scott tissue which is what – 25 cents a roll? I thought E was going to wet herself.

*****

I’m sitting now in the Phoenix airport, and I just figured out why my hand is shaking. My bag is so heavy that it’s hurting my hand, which is all red and swollen. My arm is killing me. I don’t really feel like exploring right now. The headset from the in-flight movie gave me a headache, that I know isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s about 1:30 and I have six more hours on this God-forsaken trip before I actually get where the hell I’m going. At least three more, before I can board my last plane.

Arizona looks beautiful – when we began our descent, the view was just exquisite. Rolling mountains and valleys. Really incredible shades of color – soft browns turning darker, little green peaks, I even spotted a snow-capped mountain in the distance.

I’m sitting near an escalator and two workmen just walked by. The one says to the other, “see this? You’re gonna like this. Sal just oiled that thing up.” A lot of men around here remind me of Jose. Which is funny. Just wait til I get to Mexico.

I was sweating like a whore in church, so I ran to the bathroom and changed my shirt. Wild fuckin bathrooms – the toilets flush themselves. It’s bizarre. I just stood up and was looking for a way to flush the toilet and all of a sudden it’s like the psycho thing read my mind. Scared the shit out of me. And get this, the faucets are all automatic too. Welcome to the future.

*****

Soldiers! Everywhere. I walked down this corridor to my gate and passed dozens of them, likely being deployed to Saudi Arabia. Young too – at least, they looked younger than me. A certain sadness fell over me, as I considered where they were going and the fact that some may not return. Uncomfortable and feeling helpless, I averted my eyes from most of them. I heard something about sending more troops. Christ. Are there any left? I think they started calling in the Reserves now. Saddam Hussein’s deadline is January 15.

I have no idea what time it is, only that it has to be somewhere near four. My gate has just been changed to B7, two gates away, so I had to pick up this incredible load and move. Up until now there were only two old couples waiting with me. Now there’s many more people. They’re all showing up now, and the board still says “Omaha,” so they’re all wondering if it’s the right gate.

 

Three Times I’ve Felt Blessed

When I really, really knew. I’m talking profound, existential moments.

The first time it hit me, really hit me, I was on a flight home from Santa Barbara. I’d been in California visiting a long-time, on again-off again boyfriend. What was different about this trip, as opposed to a handful of others to San Diego and Laguna, was that this time I fell in love with California. Santa Barbara – its intimately small airport, State Street with its farmer’s market full of vibrant locally grown produce, the little Greek deli’s spanakopita, the flea market/mall filled with old treasures, the Mission and the beautiful rose garden, the State Street Theater, Earthling bookstore, the magnificent cliffs overlooking the Pacific, two old men painting landscapes on the beach. I spent a great deal of time driving and exploring by myself, and the independence I felt brought me back to those solitary New York days where I was discovering who I was.

I got on the plane that last day and felt not melancholy, but … at peace. I’ve never been afraid to fly. I’ve always loved the rush of the jet lifting off, and again when the wheels skidded to a halt on the runway. And, as the plane lifted off and the California landscape grew smaller and smaller, I thought to myself, how wonderful. If this plane never lands again, if I don’t survive this flight, it will be okay, because I. Am. Blessed. I am happy.

The second, profound, time, on a day I can’t exactly recall, I realized again. Blessed to have extricated myself from a painful situation and I knew that God stood beside me as I walked in the light again. My friends stood beside me, they offered prayers and encouraging words, and I was blessed. And I was blessed to have Todd back. I was blessed during this time that he loved me still, and he stood beside me during the worst of the battles I needed to walk through. The revelation and remembrance that I was blessed is what got me through my darkest days.

This morning. After waking up on the couch at 4 o’clock in the morning, alone, with the cat sleeping on top of me and the dog nearby in her bed and the candles still burning on the coffee table… I crawled back to the bedroom where my husband lay sleeping. I woke again 3 hours later, and snuggled up beside him, his hand massaging the pain out of my arm and we spoke the silent language of long-time lovers and friends and I stroked his brown and gray-stubbled cheek, admiring the curve of his nose and the softness of the lips I’ve known for a lifetime. And I felt Blessed.

For I am and have always been blessed. Not more than anyone else deserves to be, but I recognize it – and inside the walls of my soul, no one and nothing can take that away.

Throwback Thursday: Reunion

I drove to our meeting place, my heart in my throat and my stomach somersaulting. While we wanted this first time to be private, circumstances made that virtually impossible. I imagined this as some epic reunion, and could hardly think of seeing him, after so long, in some crowded restaurant.

I pulled into the lot, my palms sweaty and trembling on the wheel. We had spoken frequently over several weeks, his voice over the air waves like an old familiar song, but until this very moment our eyes hadn’t met in over twenty years. All I’d had were pictures on a computer screen, and an old prom photo that by some miracle had escaped a jealousy-driven purge many years ago.

I saw his silhouette inside his truck, and knew there was no turning back. My heart was pounding in my chest. He stepped out of his truck as I opened my car door, and I was soon standing by my car feeling suddenly shy and conspicuous. We walked a cavernous short distance toward each other and I did what I always do when I’m breathtakingly nervous – smile stupidly like the kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

And then we were face to face. This boy I’d loved beyond all rational reason 25 years ago, the first real love I had, the unforgotten one who was indelibly imprinted on me … was standing right in front of me, flesh and bone. Same soft dark hair, shorter today. Same frame and square shoulders. Same dark eyes that see inside of me, reading all of my secrets.

And he did what any guy in his right mind would do under these extraordinary circumstances. He hugged me. I felt his arms encircle me and tried not to melt into them. I tried to remember that I was a 41-year-old woman who was mature and put together and … then I hugged him back. I couldn’t breathe. Because, Todd.

I hadn’t spoken that name out loud in forever. Hadn’t dared to think much more beyond a casual reminiscence. We stood back, looking at each other. So? So?

And suddenly there were no words. We sat down together, and suddenly the walls came down again, like they had on the phone, and we were talking about everything and nothing.

At some point he picked up my hand and I looked down, surprised by the familiarity – by the sight of his hands. You know how not all hands you will look at like they are yours? We were older now, but his hands hadn’t changed. And when I felt his hand around mine, it was a memory come to life again. In that moment, nothing had ever felt so right.

November 15, 1987

We’re back from our weekend getaway. We got in around 10 p.m. Friday night at Jeff’s parents’ house. I met both parents and they’re very nice. Jeff and I went out driving later – very fast, but I wasn’t afraid. We talked about very strange things, like death and the afterlife.

Saturday morning Mike and Wendy picked us up. We went to the Mall and I absolutely loved it. There were some really great stores, like the Sharper Image. A great many “catalog” stores. Afterwards, we went to see Scott in the hospital. He’s doing fine, has a pin or two or three – I don’t know – in his leg. I don’t really know him, so I stood back feeling uncomfortable while the guys visited. I felt like I was somehow invading his privacy.

Wendy and I saw the cutest little girl in one of the rooms down the hall. She was all alone and crying, and we got her to stop crying and actually fall to sleep. Afterward, the four of us got sandwiches at a deli and waited for the train into New York.

I LOVED New York. We dubbed our trip “Jeff’s 20-minute tour of New York City,” since he sort of took charge of where we went and what we saw and because we seriously ran through the city. We had taken a train in from Hoboken, and got off in Greenwich Village.

I saw lots of neat stores everywhere to shop in, if only I had the money and we weren’t on a whirlwind tour. We stumbled onto a sex shop called the Pleasure Chest, and the boys dragged us inside. It was wild! I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s way more kinky than Spencer’s. There were glass display cases full of dildos in every size, shape, and color, and other things I had never seen before. And they had these little penis erasers! Now those I would have loved to have. I can’t imagine the looks I’d get in class with them!

We raced through Washington Square Park – this beautiful park surrounded by trees and a huge fountain in the middle, and a huge arch on one side that looked like Paris. There were people everywhere, sitting on park benches and children in the smallest playground area, dogs on leashes, legions of artist-types lounging around the empty fountain, and students with backpacks.

There, and on several of the streets we walked through, I saw purple and white flags hanging all over the place. Turns out this is NYU, or, New York University. It never, ever occurred to me that people go to school in New York. This has to be the coolest place ever to go to school. How cool would that be?

Anyway, Jeff’s Whirlwind Tour came to an end and we took the train back to Hoboken. We went out to dinner at some restaurant there, and had a great time. I love going out to dinner and getting served. Wendy got trashed and so did I – we had an excellent time together. We stopped at Mike’s sister’s apartment. Mike kept dropping the keys at the door, on purpose, because he knew I had to pee.  Everyone was laughing. Except me.

**Disclaimer: I don’t use the upgraded service; therefore, you will see ads at the bottom of my posts (ads I don’t see because I’m not you). As it has come to my attention that certain ads may not align with my world views – I am compelled to add the following statement until further notice.

I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT DONALD TRUMP. NOT YESTERDAY, NOT TODAY, NOT – EVER.

Weddings, Past & Present

2016-08-12 10.00.40

Copyright TaraKA & the Tara Chronicles, 2016

The current heat wave we are experiencing here in the mid-Atlantic states is almost unbearable. Todd hasn’t ridden in days. I haven’t run in nearly twice as long. I just can’t do it.

We catered a wedding last weekend that was eventful to say the least. The staff was running around getting the house ready, and we were all sweating like characters in Dante’s Inferno. Bee and I joked about our sexy boob sweat, and then Dee chimed in about swamp ass and I nearly wet myself. This, folks, is the behind-the-scenes stuff that keeps up morale.

The A/C was running inside, but this couple had chosen to be married in our courtyard, so we had a number of jobs to be done outside. As I usually run the bar, my job kept me mostly inside. But then I was called to set up the outdoor beverage station under an umbrella’ed table, and by the time I returned inside I looked like I’d taken a shower. In my clothes.

While everyone complained about the heat, I was inspired to recount a wedding I was in on the hottest day of the year in 1988. Well technically, after doing a little research, it was July 17th that was the hottest day that year, at 102 degrees. But that date, through the third week of August, marked a “higher than average” span of temperatures. I’ll say.

The date was August 13th and, while the historical record says it was 91 degrees, the heat index was easily near 100. A longtime dear friend was marrying her high school sweetheart, and I was honored to be a part of the wedding. At least, until the pool began to swell in my bra.

Wendy was married in the same Catholic church that my parents were married in – so you can see how small our large world really was, in some ways. She wore a beautiful full-length white satin gown, adorned with pearls and beading, and fitted sleeves with the puffy shoulders common in the 1980s. Like all brides, she chose beauty over comfort, and paid no mind to the season. The bridesmaids wore floor-length royal blue taffeta gowns with baby blue cap sleeves (pictured).

After the ceremony, the guests adjourned to the Elks lodge a few blocks away and the bridal party went to have formal pictures taken. I don’t remember what the bride and groom rode in, but I will never forget what the bridal party was treated to. We rode in rumble seats to a popular outdoor spot for wedding photos, about 2 miles away.

Heat, sweat, and rumble seats don’t mix… and I can’t speak for the other girls, but my hair did NOT like this combination. The photos probably took no more than 30 minutes, but it felt like hours as we stood there in full-length gowns, and the poor groomsmen in tuxedos!

When we finally arrived at the Elks, after another exciting and extremely slow ride in the rumble seats, we stepped gratefully into the air-conditioning and assessed our wilted selves. Beads of sweat sparkled on the men’s foreheads. As for the girls, large circles of sweat had darkened the royal blue fabric under our arms. I wondered at poor Wendy, who still looked beautiful, although she couldn’t have been comfortable in that dress. We were able to collect ourselves for a few minutes as we lined up for the grand entrance into the reception.

A short time later the bride and groom had their first dance, which they never finished as Wendy fainted in her husband’s arms. We took her to the restroom and attempted to cool her off with water, but she was sick. I remember coming out to check on my date, and stopped to chat with one of Wendy’s elder relatives who was concerned. She was relieved that she was recovering, and then speculated – with a twinkle in her eye – that maybe Wendy was expecting. Hardly. I think Wendy was lucky that she’d only suffered from heat exhaustion.

Thankfully there were no obvious casualties in the wedding we catered last week, but the guests were determined to stay indoors until the ceremony was announced. The bride was gorgeous. Her mother, in a floor-length pale blue lacy gown, was gorgeous. The bridesmaids were gorgeous. None of them looked like they had even kissed a temperature over 70 degrees. We the staff, on the other hand, looked a little worse for wear… but no one really cares what we look like, as long as we’re still pouring the drinks and serving the food.

As for eventful, the ceremony had just finished, we’d just passed the champagne toast, and the entire guest list was running indoors. A torrential downpour moved in so fast, it’s a miracle they all made it inside. Some members of the staff? Not quite. Their white tuxedo shirts clung to the skin like a wetsuit. And it rained, and then it stopped. Some of the guests went back outside. And then it started pouring again. And then it stopped. And then the DJ set up indoors, and the guests danced outside.

I guess it’s a really good thing it didn’t rain on Wendy’s wedding.