Love

old-people-holding-hands-e1319211968491A few months ago I was walking home from work along a side street of Manhattan. Casually strolling towards me was a distinguished man and woman who looked to be in their mid-seventies.

They were holding hands. I was holding my cell phone.

They were quietly talking to each other through matching warm smiles. I was not-so quietly yelling at my husband through the receiver.

The casual pace with which this couple strolled suggested they had not a care in the world. I, on the other hand, was feeling burdened by every care in the world as I ranted into the phone about whatever debacle had occurred in my life that day.

As the couple drew closer, gradually closing the gap between us, the path became too narrow to accommodate all three of us, and soon we were entangled in that awkward step-to-this-side-step-to-that-side dance New Yorkers get stuck in when trying to politely share a confined space. Toning down my fury long enough to acknowledge present circumstances, I shimmied to the right to give the pleasant couple room to pass. They simultaneously stepped to the same side, indicating I should pass. I waved them on with insistence, as if to say, You seem happy. I’m miserable. Please, go first. The kindly couple, however, remained fixed in place, more than happy to give me first passage. I nodded appreciatively, eager to resume my ranting to my husband on the phone, and moved forward.

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hôtel ritz parisI admit it – I have a soft spot for hotel bars partly because the first time my present husband declared himself to me was at a hotel bar – albeit it was coming on the heels of “I think you have another girlfriend (true) and if you want to keep seeing me, you’d better tell her good-bye....” In fairness, we’d only been dating for a week and we hadn’t kissed yet. And my version of the story is way more dramatic than his. In my version, I exit the table and he runs after me and says, “Wait, wait...I think I’m falling in love with you.” In his version, the dialogue is the same, but he claims he didn’t run after me in the patio of the bar at The Peninsula in Beverly Hills and dramatically stop my exit, he simply said it at the table. (I’m right, by the way....)

Neither of us dispute the second part – that the first time we kissed was in the driveway of the Peninsula (about three minutes after the declaration) as we were both waiting for our own cars and the possibility that we might never see each other again was hanging in the air. The valets all started laughing and smiling, and in my writer’s mind, there was also applause (this is potentially debatable) but the valets were pretty sweet since basically it was sort of old people making out and could have elicited a slightly different reaction, like yucch, and if this is “too much information” for my children, I apologize about that....

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lobsters.jpgLast week, on Martha’s Vineyard, while eating lobster on the docks of Menemsha, my 20 year old daughter asked, “Where do lobsters come from?” She always stumps me! I’m still having trouble with chickens and eggs, so I looked it up and what I found was utterly fascinating.

With a characteristic similar to some humans I know, the female lobster is always attracted to the bad, dangerous alpha in the hood. The male lobster is a mean and aggressive beast. Being the most powerful fighter has earned him the respect of the other males and the pick of the females.

When the female lobster is ready to mate, she approaches alpha’s den and secretly squirts a pheromone, subtly mixed with her urine into his lair. Sensing an intruder, the male rushes to his door with his claws raised aggressively, but he is already sufficiently ruffied, and after a brief fight, the female places her claws upon the love drugged male’s head, who then obediently escorts her over the threshold of his cave.

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Today we ended Faith’s life. She was, according to the records, 19 years old.

faithrug.jpg She had cancer and while still able to go up and down the stairs, take short walks, and eat two square meals a day (her favorite 8 minutes of the day), the tumors were at a point of not just being an annoyance. They caused her pain, and it was clear that as they were now spreading quickly, there was more of that in her future. And so we made an appointment and drove her to the Vet in the Palisades.  I was able to hold it together through the signing of release forms, and the initial wait in the entry, but when it was time to take her back, Gary and she went together for the last walk down the hall.

They tried to get her lay down on the floor, but she wanted to sit up, so Gary wrapped his arms around her and they administered the drug.  He said she peacefully began to breathe more slowly, until she was no longer with him.  He said she looked angelic.  The doctor left him alone with her and he said he lost it, beginning to cry, his tears spilling down onto the front of his blue t-shirt like drops of heavy rain. When he came out of the building, I was waiting in the car, and while we knew we’d done the right thing, the strong thing, the best thing for her – it was so incredibly hard.

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poms_sm.jpg My mother had a way of inventing traditions.  “It’s Lizzie’s birthday!” she’d proclaim periodically and everyone in the family would don a party hat and sing happy birthday to one of our English Springer Spaniels.  The announcement of the dog’s birth and subsequent celebration of it could occur at any time – on April 5, say, or December 12.  It could happen twice a year or once every few years.  But however haphazard, it became a tradition. 

Every so often, we’d gather in the living room; my father on the bongo drums someone had given him for a birthday present, my sister on her recorder, me banging the big copper-bottomed soup pot with a wooden spoon, and my mother on piano, playing from our “American Folk Songs For Piano” songbook.  “Love oh love oh careless love,” she’d sing, entirely off-key, “Love oh love oh careless love, love oh love oh careless love, see what love has done to me.”

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