Archive | Age Matters

The Book of ‘And Then’

Yesterday I woke early to watch the latest episode of “This Is Us,” which means I was a puddle by 7 am, when I’ve programmed my phone to wake me every day with Aretha Franklin singing “Hello Sunshine.” The show always undoes me–Gd knows I’m not alone in this fact–but the last few episodes have been completely ruining. The death of Jack Pearson, the patriarch played so sweetly and sadly by Milo Ventimiglia, devastated me even though intimations of his demise have been woven into the series since its inception.

The timing also wove devastatingly into my real life. I’ve always believed it’s not my right to disclose the details of other people’s hardship on my blog, and I won’t begin to do so now. Suffice it to say the father of one of my dearest friends, a person so private I’ve never included a picture of her here or even her real name, died last week, and I’ve been taking her loss with me everywhere because that’s how our bond works. When good things happen to one of us, they happen to both of us, and the same holds true with the bad. But I also know that while I can hold my friend’s hand and even some of her pain, this is a path she walks alone. The loss of one’s father is a shadow nothing can fully brighten, especially in a world in which good daddies are far and few in between. Continue Reading →

The Lanterns of Others

As you know, last month for my birthday I revisited the Mermaid Woods–what I call the Outer Cape, my perfect place, the region where I finally want to own a home. While I was there I stopped by Atlantic Spice Company, a kitchen and condiment supply store in Truro, Mass, my favorite oceanside town. I bought hot pepper salt for myself and B, licorice-mint tea in bulk for my Ruby Intuition clients, and pretty little pot covers in Oshun and Yemaya colors (sunflower and oceanic blue). In short, it was a magical shopping expedition, but that’s not even the best part of the story. The best part is that while I was ogling hand creams made from organic local herbs, I started speaking with a woman with the most beautiful white hair. I always initiate conversations with women with beautiful white hair because I’m preparing for the day that my head is all salt and no pepper, and I welcome advice from women who’ve already walked that path. This woman was lovely–funny and warm-and we traded details of what had brought us to this magical store in that magical moment. I offered her my birthday good wind–I always do that on my birthday–and in return the white-haired woman said she made hand creams of her own. “I live in Upstate New York, and I make a potion of local beeswax and lavender. Give me your address and I’ll send you a jar.” I gave it to her and as I did, I said, “I want you to know I’ll remember you fondly even if you throw my address away as soon as we part ways.” I meant it, too. She’d made me feel so good in our conversation about getting more radiant and true as we age.

Well. You know how this story goes. I came home Monday from a sad few days in Pennsylvania, and sitting pretty in my mailbox along with ugly bills and an uglier note from my landlord was a jar of lavender-beeswax lotion from this beautiful white-haired mermaid. People shine so much light when you least expect it. And it really brings home what I was feeling the Saturday before I’d left town. I’d spent the whole morning doing errands in my neighborhood and saying hello to everyone doing the same. In the middle of jokes exchanged at the farmers market, I’d remembered my favorite human truth: There are no strangers, only cousins you’ve not yet met.

Past Perfect ‘Seasons’

Once when I was 12, I saved up my babysitting money and bought a ticket to hear Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” performed on George’s Island, a waterfront historical park located right off the coast of Boston.

I’d always been in love with that group of concerti, and my love had been as private as it had been absolute. My father was a resolute R&B worshipper and my mother bopped along to whatever he put on the turntable, slipping on Broadway musicals like “Gigi” when he wasn’t around. But I’d been a violinist since I was six; the Suzuki Method was huge in that era and both my factory-worker grandfathers had played ardently if unprofessionally. Playing classical instruments isn’t so common anymore but back then ordinary people of all classes and backgrounds did it all the time. I’ve been thinking about this, about how we used to make our own art and culture, didn’t just consume it like fast food.

By the time I realized I preferred the richer registers of the viola, my parents had already bought a grownup-sized violin–I was a tall kid–and my compromise was to practice just enough to justify their purchase. I played second violin in orchestra, and used my sight-reading skills more joyfully in chamber choir, where I sang first tenor. The result was a passion for the rigors of classical music that I rarely revealed at home or in my working-class neighborhood. Even now I rarely discuss this prediliction, though, left to my own devices, I listen to those busybody Baroque composers nearly as often as I listen to Aretha. Bach, Vivaldi, Dvořák; Telemann, too. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy