I had this dream about him last night, about our first real date when he was dressed up and I was too, cufflinks and heels and pomade and lots and lots of red lipstick and spicy cologne. A dream of a swank event and his wide smile and my gap-toothed grin, of a midnight midtown walk and drinks in a secret bar we stumbled upon when most everyone was asleep. I dreamed that instead of flattening ourselves on two different sides of the cab, we came together–not, as it really happened, with me leaning timidly against his chest but with us kissing kissing kissing as the car soared high above the city, a kiss that didn’t stop, wouldn’t stop. A kiss we could trust. Me climbing on top of him, he reaching into me, buttons unbuttoning, zippers unzippering, fingers and mouths everywhere on a bridge hurtling us somewhere better–somewhere I wouldn’t panic just when the going could get good, somewhere he had plenty of time and inclination, somewhere no one would jump off, somewhere we could flourish together. It was a dream of the we that didn’t happen, and it was tough because things felt so sweet and got so sour. Waking up was brutal.
Sunday, on the precipice of a new moon and the Jewish New Year, I woke at 4 am, early even for me. Cool air drifted through the window and rain pitter-pattered against the glass as I lounged in bed, draped in an autumn mumu and reading my second Gilda Radner book in two days. I’ve been pretty open about how hard I’ve been finding life, so the peace of that moment was sweet.
I’m not entirely sure why Gilda’s been giving me so much comfort right now. I’ve been reading and watching everything about her and I think partly it’s her guilelessness coupled with that intense mischief. Her intelligence and sense of the absurd were palpable, but so were her huge vulnerability and empathy–it was all wrapped in an enormous, childlike glow. Not a childish one, mind you for by all reports she was eminently kind, and children rarely are. (People who think children are born kind are fooling themselves; kindness is always a learned trait.) But Gilda was surely childlike: playful, present, boundlessly, bountifully enthusiastic. So much so that her voice was extra-raspy and her limbs extra rubbery, as if excitement was constantly stretching her limits. Continue Reading →
As I sent light to Aretha Franklin in this morning’s meditation practice, my phone randomly began playing her cover of “My Way”; a second later her death hit the wires. I chalk that synchronicity up to Aretha’s magic, not mine, because she was the most powerful musical conveyer belt of our time and always always sang everything, and I do mean everything, the best. She wrote and performed amazing songs, and she improved on everyone else’s by giving them the most soulful, the most heartfelt, and the most empowering interpretations. Hell, even Otis admitted her take on “Respect” eclipsed his, though he recorded it first. Whether she was producing, performing, or stepping up with sisters like Angela Davis, Aretha always did do everything “her way”– probably even decided when it was her time to go. But I will sit shivah this week anyway. Formal mourning is required when someone in your family passes over, and though I never met her in person, readers of this blog are well aware that Aretha Franklin raised me through her shining example and songs. I’m crying as I type this, and “99 Tears” doesn’t begin to cover how many more I will shed in her honor.