Archives For Thoughts I’m Thinking

clothesline_main-680x510-680x510There was a time when I would close my eyes and fantasize about the life I truly wanted.  The life I envisioned began like this:

I see it like a film.  I can see the scene from the camera’s perspective, moving into the the grounds through the large iron gate, camera moving steadily, and out from the wisteria hanging from the trelace onto the garden patio surrounded by lush greenery and scattered with fragrant lavender petals.  A mass of crisp white bed linens hangs off the line, gentlly swaying in the warm summer breeze drying under the light of the hot Ligurian sun. And then I see myself behind the mass of white.  Children calling out to each other in playful laughter from a nearby yard and the camera moves in on me slowly.  A contented look on my face, pulling clean wet sheets out of the brown wicker basket on the grass and adding them to the line.  I’m wearing a simple white cotton dress, hair pulled back at the nape of my neck.  Carmel colored curls spring out of the elastic and bounce as I bend to the basket grabbing a pillowcase and reach up to the line.  I can feel small beads of sweat begin to form at my hairline, but the breeze feels good and she has a look of contentment on my face.  And then I see him.  He walks out of the kitchen into the yard holding something – a beer?  No, two.  He kicks a random ball in his path without missing a beat and the sandy colored dog goes bouncing with a bark beyond the fig tree, playing.  He holds one out to me,  “Prego, amore” here you go my love he says in Italian,   “Grazie” Thank you she responds and slips the neck of the bottle down the side of her own, just behind her ear to cool herself off,  before taking a swig.  He sits in the white plastic chair near the clothesline, squints his eyes because the sun, “Basta, dai” enough, already, and taps his hand on the chair next to his.  She gives him a smile, places the beer bottle on the chair and continues pinning the sheets to the line.

Not sure why I’m doing laundry.  Not sure why I’m wearing white, which by the way, I almost never wear because a) I spill everything on myself when I wear white and b) I think I look fat in white.  Also, I don’t know why I’m drinking a beer in this scenario.  If you know me you know I don’t like beer mostly because it’s carbonated and carbonated drinks make me gassy and I burp a lot.  But this is the scene I see in my hear when I fantasize about my life in Italy.  The life I wanted and never had.  The man I wanted and could’ve had if it weren’t for my stupid pride.  But that’s me, letting pride get in the way of a really good thing even when the really good thing is potentially wearing a white dress and sweating in the sun, even if it is a Ligurian sun, and hanging some beer drinking Italian man’s laundry.

Last summer I found out he had a child.  With whom, I have no idea, but he’s a father now.  And you know what?  I don’t own a white dress and now I live in Shanghai and my Chinese Aiyi (housekeeper) does all the laundry.  Go figure.

It’s the Fabergé Organics Shampoo principle:  I tell two friends, then they’ll tell two friends and so on, and so on….Being a child of the ’70’s I grew up watching commercials like this: 

I mean, this is marketing genius!  A modestly dressed woman with shiny long brown hair and friendly smile speaking to me as though she were my friend.  She tells me about this great shampoo, then asks me to tell just two other friends.  It’s shampoo, for chrissakes. They just want you to make sure you buy the right one – the original – and that you tell people about it so they’ll buy more of it.  Perfect.

So now, ignore my hair and yours.  Go tell two friends about this blog, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on….

Or, you could just go buy the shampoo.  I hear it’s still available somewhere.

Billsta on the Balcony

February 16, 2015 — 2 Comments

I originally brought Billsta home to my mother’s house from Ikea about five years ago.  My mother needed a small breakfast table and it was the perfect size for her small kitchen.  I remember putting it together by following one of those wordless direction pamphlets that comes with everything from there.   It was simple enough because there were only three parts to put together: the smooth round 27 1/2″ melamine table top, the 40″ base and the four piece foot stand. I fished out the correct screws and had it put together in a few minutes with very little effort.  The chairs that match have short rounded backs and I really like the way my body fits perfectly in them.   Billsta is of a sturdy Swedish design that didn’t look prone to wobbling, which I loved.  I smoothed my hand across the surface in sweet satisfaction.  there would be no splintering or splitting.  For years my mother had a table in her kitchen that wobbled as soon as someone sat down.  All through meals it would wobble and that became the norm.  But Billsta would never wobble.  Swedish engineering made sure of that.

We sold my mother’s house in the spring of last year, and by June I moved to a new apartment on the thirteenth floor.  I had the movers put Billsta on the west facing balcony.  It was summer when I moved in and I thought it would be the perfect place to have my tea or coffee in the morning.  Billsta looked much smaller in my place than it had at my mother’s house.  It looked great on the balcony and left plenty of room for a recliner and end table that I had my eye on, but still haven’t purchased.  I used Billsta often, sipping tea and occasionally coffee.   Resting my mug on its smooth melamine surface.  The balcony is high enough and far away from neighbors that I didn’t feel awkward shuffling out in my bathrobe with my hair a mess to execute my morning ritual;  tea in my mug, feet propped up on the second chair, and the morning light dancing on the glass of the downtown buildings now pink, then orange then settling nicely into a cheery yellow.  Billsta and I were getting along very nicely.

I brought the chairs inside the first time it rained.  They have these little round beige cushions on them, and I didn’t want them to get wet and squishy.  I brought them inside again when I was traveling in the summer months.  I brought them in yet again when I started teaching in the fall because I didn’t want an unexpected rain to ruin them.  I found other uses for the chairs, like standing on one when I needed to store something at the top of my closet, or when cleaning the top shelf of my tall bookcases.  I even sat on one as I read a book one afternoon.  Billsta stayed outside.  I even thought of bringing Billsta inside for dinner.  You should know that Billsta looks unimposing, but is actually heavy and I just didn’t want to be weighed down by it.  I thought it would just get in my way and invade my space. I have no real need for Billsta in my immediate living space.  It’s well suited on the balcony.

It is now mid-February and for the past few days I’ve been writing on my laptop occasionally looking out the glass doors at Billsta.  It’s been out there on the balcony all these months withstanding sun, rain, wind and more recently, snow. I’ve only now just noticed that all this time Billsta looked so dependable and solid out there on the balcony.  But now I see it moved from the place I originally had it.  It’s closer to the railing now.  In fact, one of the feet of the base is under the black iron railing tucked into the four inch space between the concrete and the bottom of the iron railing.  I have a feeling Billsta is distancing itself away from me.  Did Billsta feel so neglected that it slowly made its way to the edge?

I  walk across the room now and upon closer inspection, I see Billsta’s  smooth melamine surface is warped.  It is slightly slanted now – not much – just enough from me to notice its disappointed frown.  There is some water resting there.  Looking like a stain of tears.  The table in it’s dying has come to life. Billsta has given up on me but still stands strong.  In the cold, gray afternoon, with the still white sky, I realize there has been no one resting their teacup on Billsta.  No one running their hands across its once smooth malamine surface.  I haven’t been there to appreciate Billsta as it was meant to be enjoyed.  it’s become a dirty, cold, warped shell of a table.  Damaged from neglect and disuse.

And now, it seems, I have a decision to make.

Right View, Wrong City

February 15, 2015 — Leave a comment

Sipping hot Earl Grey from my favorite chair and looking at this view doesn’t suck.

IMG_5472Here, on the thirteenth floor, I can see the city center’s concrete lego bricks lay in their deceitful permanence.  There’s a major train line and interstate highway that would sit at the foreground of this photo.  I have the luxury of knowing what the weather and traffic are doing before I leave my place just by looking out the window.  The thing is, I live in Connecticut.  I have nothing against the state or its people, but I am a New Yorker through and through.  When I walk out the lobby doors of my building, I won’t be able to hail down a cab, walk two blocks to the subway or stumble across a great new gallery in the next neighborhood on my walk after dinner.  I can’t pick up Sunday’s New York Times late Saturday afternoon, grab a nosh at Zabar’s and catch a last minute foreign film, all without the need for a car.  I’ve not passed a pile of garbaged and feared the presence of rats or giant cockroaches on my walks here.  There’s no risk here.  No everyday adventure.  No grit. I belong in New York City.  I’d love to make that happen.  This is not a negative view of where I am.  Just the opposite.  It’s a realization.  An embrace of my most authentic self.  I feel grateful every day that I have this apartment, this view, this home but…

I’m pretty sure it’s in the wrong city.

For now, it will have to do.  And like I said, it doesn’t suck.