Tuesday, September 24, 2013


What's hanging off a building across the street?
Colorful, and reminiscent of prayer flags.
A closer view shows no inscription.
Silent prayers perhaps.
I like thinking about prayer flags next door to the police precinct, and directly across the street from the Catholic rectory and office.  It occurs to me the Dalai Llama may be in town for the United Nations General Assembly this week.  Everyone who is anyone has come to New York to attend or report on it.  Grid lock is predicted for the East side of town all week.

I've been shredding and sorting,
record keeping, putting the business of life in some order.
 It's tedious, as you know.
 Satisfying when done.
  Since my physical prowess has been mitigated by twisted muscles, and since movement is limited,
it just seemed the perfect time.

My shoes don't get much of a workout.
 I visit often to commiserate with them, and nightly, I give my elastic  pelvic brace, my knee wrapping, and my helpful cane, a hearty thanks for getting me through another day.
They shepharded me to my writing group Monday night, got me a seat on the bus, and a hand down to the street at my stop, then safely home again.

An old, smudged, mixed media drawing
resurrects Madame Ramonde Collette
 She was in her eighties when I arrived here in the Fall of 1969, and we became friends.  Soon I became a helper who could be counted on to do her bills and her banking once a month.  I still see her sitting in her front room leaning in her open window sill, reading "Hollywood Babylon", the sun shining on her white hair and her aged blue eyes all aglow.  She was fond of gossip and scandal, and hardly ever left the apartment.  Born in France, twice married and widowed, without children, she lived on the first floor front with her younger sister until that sisters death, then alone.  That's how she was when we met.  Everyone knew her, and neighbors were often sitting around her kitchen table of an afternoon.  She kept a tidy, spare place, cleaned and cooked on the same days, as regular as a clock.  When she fell seriously ill, family who had never visited, appeared, and took her to live out her remaining days in Michigan where no one knew her.  She was in her mid-nineties when she died,  and left all her money to the church.  The landlord soon cleared her rooms out to the good will thrift store, and I haven't known a single occupant of that apartment since.  It is so much less a community here than it was then.  I miss her gaze. I miss the past every Fall, I think.
Falling back a bit before cocooning into Winter.  I'm spinning a kind of comfort, opening the memory vault, dipping into file drawers and letting the old names surround me once more.  There was Lena Levaca who's television was always on, and Erna Tross who survived the Nazi's, and showed me her missing breast, and wept.  Inga Borg lived across the street with her dependent adult son and several dogs, in that flag sporting building above, and was a frequent visitor to the other elders here, and Fanny and Sidney Raphel who shared Kuggel with us.
More...many more, but that's enough.  I'll stop before getting into the tragic love stories, the amazing dramas, the way we all mixed and mingled in together in those days when 'neighbor' didn't just mean the strangers next door, and 'neighborhood' meant shared turf, not just real estate.


Kim Andersen said...

What an amazing history ... And how blessed to have lived in the same place to get to know it so well. I have lived in my current home longer than anywhere else in my life and never want to be uprooted again - ten homes in the first twenty years of my life - twelve in the next twenty. Not good. But so happy to have lived in one place these last ten years. God is good.

Nancy said...

What a beautiful tale of memories and history of place. A rich place to reside. I'm glad you shared this Michelle, so I can learn you even more.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

her eyes...you did something
extremely beautiful with her eyes