Starting tight, inter-woven-young and new with few experiences beyond those of small town life. With time new threads, color, textures, spreading out–the weave looser, stretching, growing; the fabric changing size and shape. There to wrap in if it’s cold. Looser with big, loopy openings if space is needed. But there, always there. Whether in long loose, thin tendrils or tight knots for hanging on-Experiences and life demands determine the shape, the weight, the size, the colors of the fabric that is always there. “The Fabric of Us.”
Whether burlap or brocade-Synthetic or silk, vinyl or velvet, used and abused–stretched to its limit-Comfy and crushed-every now and then-“The Fabric of Us”-gets a new thread. Renewing it’s strength, it’s glow to shine with or without sun.
Fifty plus years of being there. Not many can boast that. Let’s add a new color, a new thread to-“The Fabric of Us.”
Recipe for long living, long ago. How many had grandparents who lived well into their 90’s? Maybe they knew Vic Tanny existed but they were too busy working hard, cooking and baking and smoking cigarettes to get to know him well. My Grandmother, (Bubby Chicken), for those in the know, led with an indomitable spirit. She had a startling ability to push unpleasant thoughts down the block and across the street. She was too busy to worry about what so and so said or thought. With rolling pin in hand and her grater not far away she filled part of her days. I often wondered if she slept with her apron on as it was ever present and the first thing we noticed when we ran in for her endless Hug.
We believe she was the prototype for the ” I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna learn high to fly” lyrics. So, noodle and or potato pudding, apple cake, rugalach with raisins and jelly and her famous candy bowl filled with hard candies were things we came to depend on. We never knew how we would make it to dessert as we were left stuffed with carbs, salt, schmaltz and gribenes (for those in the know.) And- just in case, she had her trustworthy mylanta, gaviscon- or “here mamala have a tums” waiting on the counter next to the left over flour and right under an old plant that still had the ribbon and card on it from last Mother’s Day.
In the absence of probiotics, papaya enzymes, lactaid free whatevers,Pilates, colonoscopies, portion controls, calories counts on products, my grandmother and her friends lived forever.
Were their stomachs better equipped? Was it not considered abuse to reach for the sugar and go for the salt first? Perhaps endemic to generations long ago who focused less on Vit. D levels and more on how good Halavah tasted, whether it was marble or chocolate covered. The conundrum eludes me, how about you?
A three pronged example of a lifestyle fast forwarded is a workout on the treadmill, a bullet green shake and dashing off to have our blood work tested after a 50,000 Vit.D unit regimen to pump up the numbers. Bub, we all miss the high caloric, straddled with confectioners sugar way you celebrated life. By the way thanks for palming us the good luck gelt every time we left your side. Have a Great Day.
There’s a hold up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights. There’s a traffic jam in Harlem- that’s backed up to Jackson Heights. There’s a scout group short a child, Khruschev’s due at Idlewild- “Car 54 Where Are You?” Gunther Toody and Officer Muldoon- where are you when we need you? Indelible visuals of their caricatures implanted in our minds. We only wanted them to get back together as partners. Their chemistry was real. My go to is Barbra with an A. “Was it all so simple then or has time re-written every line?”
Johnny on The Pony was a fave, rough housing at its best. Great memory and first glimpse into early on-set competition was watching the boys play skully. Remember flicking bottle caps on to a chalk made skully board? Object not over-flicking–nope it’s on the line.
When the going was good, with euphoric recall, we remember the days of no wine, maybe sweet sixteen roses. We drew the hopscotch board on the part of the sidewalk that was flat. Throwing our skate key as our hopscotch shooter was the thrill- where would it fall? Happy to land with two feet on 3 and 4 or 6 and 7 (double squares). Jumping rope, (sorry no double dutch here) trading Barbie clothes and discussing what happened on last nights episode of The Patty Duke Show are such comforting memories of times well lived. A simple worry was that the street light would go on before we found our skate key en route home to watch the latest episode of Dr. Kildare, (Richard Chamberlain) was very cute . We loved playing stoop ball- loosely based on baseball, only we used a Spaulding and retrieved it from the stoop steps, rather than from a batter. Big favorite was the game of Jacks. We didn’t care that we were often left with scrapes on the side of our hands from pinky to wrist. Bacitracin and band-aids were big in our house. The boys on the block played Stickball, (baseball with a stick.)
And then came the “Whistle.” I think our father practiced it a few times before we heard it coming as a “it’s time.” We did not look forward to hearing that sound at all, and in the middle of a game-ugh! “But Daddy we aren’t done. Please, just a little bit longer.” Denominations of time didn’t matter. Ten more minutes would have done. We cherished these after dinner nightly reunions. Our early childhood friends are still part of us. Now we share Nexium, diet tips and compare blood pressure meds. Just sayin. The crescendo of childhood memories was getting our baby bead bracelets with the letters spelling our names and encased in gold. Our piece of the sky, indeed. Ok, then, so with resignation and dismay we left the street. Bath time, Dr. Kildare and maybe some of Pinky Pinkham( Dorothy Provine) singing a few tunes at the Charleston Club. The corners of our minds are filled with the innocence of skate keys, Nancy Drew books and red licorice; never a clue that Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five would become the thundering moral statement of our time. Oh, what I would give to hear that infamous whistle beckoning me to come in, just one more time- And Daddy this time I would come in and right away. Make it a good day!
The feeling of being excluded stinks! We recently learned of a reach out program called #operationshabbotshalom. It was started by a lovely guy we know who heads a modern orthodox day school in Westchester. We met him 18 plus years ago through one the modern orthodox temples in New York where some of the grandkids attend school. He is renowned and in fact the son of the Rabbi Emeritus at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun. Shout out to Josh Lookstein. Fast forward, post (bh) pandemic and we are out and more about. One pervasive and lingering side effect for so many resulted from the feeling of being isolated. The common denominator was negotiating our safety from our own ships during the the many phases of the universal storm. #operationshabbotshalom was set up as an “effort to bring people together after a year of distancing.” Friday afternoons are designated to reach out to people who could use a call. Come one, call all. You in turn get the calls too. Social lives have an ebb and flow. There are times when we are inundated with invites to join the party. There are periods where empty calendars feel iitalicized in yellow marker fashion. Differentiating between alone and lonely is a tough call. In an attempt to make up for lost time we schedule our days and nites in bulk. Some days we almost look forward to cancelled plans. We can then get into our sweats, no make-up and hair pulled back mode. It gives us a moment to get off the treadmill of activity, tap into an evening of take-out Chinese food, netfiix and a Vodka we nurse through binging Mare of Easttown. We are tired. Tired of the reboot. Lots of time and sometimes tortured energy to create a syllabus that is new but contains components of what was. Unplug and hope we what we lost, was either no longer serving us any good, or in fact stored in the elusive cloud. So just for today, when you find the time, perhaps reach out to someone who may be going through a narrow calendar of events. Leave the door open and let them know in a more than merrier way, that they will never walk alone, as long as you are around.
Dodging bullets as we are racing through moments in time. Carly Simon said it best.“All those crazy nights when I cried myself to sleep, Now melodrama never makes me weep anymore, Cause I haven’t got time for the pain, Haven’t got room for the pain.”As upperclassmen tapping into the adage “older is wiser,” we are more challenged by change of any kind. Change seems to come in threes at rapid fire pace. When we were younger and they discontinued the lipstick color we used since our Sweet Sixteen, in a simple walk through the park way, we would just find a close match. As the inflammatory stage of Pandemic is circling the drain, we emerge cautiously looking both ways before we cross the proverbial street. With less steadiness and more trepidation as time marches on we find ourselves moving more slowly. Who remembers wearing silk stockings with bold seams down the back? The fashion statement looked best when the seams were straight and balanced on both legs. Now we find merely balancing both legs our goal. The palette as we know it has changed. It’s part of the deal. We are cool with different, just not accustomed to so many new obstacles. We learn quickly bemoaning our fate zaps our energy as to be sad, is not to be productive. Just for today, let’s brush away the flies at our picnic, change the table of play if one of the players bugs the you know what out of you and look both ways perhaps more cautiously, but cross that street. Who knows you might find a lucky penny, heads up, to adorn the front of your new loafers. Make it A Great Day!
Dear Daren, I walk down memory lane, because I love running into you. So Jen and Ricky are having a wedding party. They are bringing your namesake, Julian Daren, (he’s very cute.) We were invited to join the celebration and we are going to dance the night away. Like we said as kids, “till the cow jumps over the moon.” Barbara and I have already talked about how we will bring our memories of you and our youth along that night. We will dress them up with style and panache. They will represent you properly and dance like you would, snapping your fingers and crooning to the music. The way you danced is a memory that has stuck in my head and is easily exhumed as if it were yesterday. We promise we’ll have fun and tell you over and over again how gorgeous Jen looks. Our imaging of you will add a glow and an over the top kvell of love and extreme pride. We truly believe you would love Ricky. He is a cool dude. He is handsome, kind and he loves Jen and Julian Daren something fierce. Remember that movie star kind of guy we would sing about yeah, well, perhaps prophetic, however- “he’s not bad.” Another one of our expressions when we would talk about “boys” we met. Anyway old friend, “Pinky swear” we will mix in nostalgia, smile big and dance like everyone is watching. We are bringing our piece of you next Saturday. You will recognize us- we will be sitting prominently next to one another, gasping on our astonishment at the wonder of your baby girl. You did better than good, dear Daren. Oh, btw- that movie star we would sing about, yep! you got that right it was your daughter after all. When I look at her I see you and it certainly feels well, like we never said goodbye. Love ya, Judy