Who wants to hear about my [long-ago] trip to Del Boca Vista? I mean Siesta Key, Florida.
You do, apparently, because you’re still here, reading. Continue reading
First read this related post.
Suddenly we were on the bridge to Brooklyn. The Manhattan Bridge this time, not the Williamsburg. I laughed.
“Don’t laugh. This isn’t funny!” Mom said.
I kept laughing. What else are you supposed to do when a Chinese New Year parade and dozens of NYC traffic cops thwart your Little Italy lunch plans and Canal Street spits you onto the bridge to downtown Brooklyn without any choice?
Just thirty minutes earlier, everything was fine. Great really. Mom came in from Scranton for a post-birthday (hers, not mine) visit. I had a present waiting for her at my apartment in Williamsburg. We planned to drive there after shopping and lunch at Pellegrino’s.
We shopped at Lord & Taylor. I found a dress that might be fun for my friend Candace‘s wedding in Jamaica. We got Mom’s car out of the lot ($26 for two hours, and that’s the Weekend Special) and headed downtown.
And sat in spectacular traffic once we passed Bleecker Street.
“I’m never doing this again,” Mom said about driving downtown, and agreeing to drive to Brooklyn for her birthday gift. But she has said that many times during my life about things she has absolutely done again so I laughed some more.
Each summer, my parents and I would drive eight-ish hours south to Nags Head, NC. Once, when I was a seven or eight years old, we arrived the Cabana East Motel only to find that our reservation was actually for the next day. No rooms were available.
Dad, not the adaptable sort, was furious at Mom who, although she might have gotten a date wrong, also did all of the heavy lifting for planning our vacations with no offers of help from Dad. Even though we were able to get a room for the night at the Beacon next door, I don’t think my parents exchanged a civil word for 24-48 hours.
I wished we could all just be happy about the extra day at the beach.
When we found ourselves on the Manhattan Bridge, I turned to Mom (who was getting progressively more hangry thanks to my laughter) and said “why don’t we eat in Williamsburg? You can eat food you don’t eat around Dad.”*
I felt tense during the drive up the BQE but tried to hide it with chatter. We parked near the restaurant and then walked down the middle of the street to avoid the ice-covered sidewalks. The ice was another strike against Brooklyn in my mother’s eyes.
Miraculously, she stepped across the restaurant threshold and expressed her approval.
We went to Mesa Coyoacan for Mexican food. Tamarind margarita for her, michelada for me. We gorged on tortilla soup and esquites and guacamole and tacos. When we were done with that, I surprised her with churros con chocolate y caramel with a birthday candle. She no longer seemed mad at me for laughing.
Guess what? Mom loved my black nail polish. She proclaimed my hair too “gold.” I’m keeping it though.
*Between his health concerns and narrow idea of what constitutes Good Food. (In my dad’s opinion, every cuisine that isn’t American or Italian might serve him cat for an entrée. Don’t ask. I have given up.)
Mom visited me. More on that soon.
Naturally she had an opinion.
How do you think it played out?
Vote now and I’ll tell you the answer tomorrow. Click here to find out.
This post was originally entitled “I am nothing but feelings.” You’ll see.The phone rang at 10:46 AM on November 17. It was a Monday so I was at work when my parents’ home number flashed on my cell phone, making my heart jump to my throat.
“Hello?” I answered, feeling tense.
I willed myself to breathe again.
Dad said he felt bad for not calling more. He just called to chat.
For years, Dad didn’t know my phone number – seriously – and it drove my mother nuts. She gave him grief about it constantly, writing the number on notepads in the house and entering it into his seldom-used and seldom-seen cell phone. But I always told him the same thing: I know how much you love me.
Still, it’s a surprise when Dad calls. A great surprise. I drop everything for him.
We talked about The Voice, which he absolutely loves. The bromance between Adam and Blake cracks him up. But he has a new favorite now.
— One Chicklette (@1chicklette) November 18, 2014
Dad asked about my cold and told me that he’s feeling good. The last three years have taught me not to take that for granted. Tomorrow is not assured.
Holidays are different now. On Thanksgiving night, I cried in my childhood bedroom thinking ahead to the day when I will no longer have a dad.
I used to save projects for Dad. A necklace that needs fixing. A shelf to be mounted on my apartment wall. He was my own personal McGyver. No challenge was too great for Dad.
But now, Dad is often physically vulnerable. I don’t ask him to do things for me now because I know it would break his heart to say “I can’t. I’m so sorry, Jen.”
My father seems to be fading like an old Polaroid. Sometimes I think about asking if he’s scared. And by scared, I mean about dying. But that’s a door I can’t open. Even thinking and typing the word feels like a betrayal.
Dad spent six days in a hospital two hours’ drive from home last week. His condition, pulmonary hypertension, is very difficult to manage. He has an excellent specialist who does everything you’d want a doctor to do, from calling the house to check in between appointments to visiting my father in the hospital, even though he’s out on vacation.
But getting Dad back on course takes time and tries his patience. He hates the hospital food, and the hospital twin bed and worst of all, the hospital TV that doesn’t offer a guide or menu. Fortunately he loves the nurses (and they love him).
I call a few times each day, trying to encourage and distract him.
“At least The Voice is on tonight, Dad.”
“You’re right, Jen. I can’t wait. It’s good to have something to look forward to.”
“I love you, Dad. So much.”
And then I hang up and cry. I can’t let Dad know how scared I am.
December 18 update: Dad was just diagnosed with shingles.
I had a mother-daughter weekend in the DC area. A cousin got married and Mom asked me to be her date. Dad is doing pretty well, but his health ups and downs mean he’s less likely to enjoy all of the standing around a wedding reception can entail, or a four-hour car ride.
I was [mostly] happy to step in, for the chance to see relatives and to try to see old friends in DC, time permitting.
The wedding was lovely.
You guys really liked my friend Candace’s recent guest post. Fortunately, she has volunteered another, this time about what it means to go home.
The more you like and comment on this post, the more likely Candace will post more. Hint, hint.
* * *
My parents moved from my hometown of Alpharetta, GA when I graduated from high school. That meant that when I went to visit them, I wasn’t going home–I was going to a new place that didn’t have my friends and old stomping grounds. And while I did occasionally get back, it wasn’t as frequent as most of my old friends, many of who actually still live there.
I went back to Alpharetta one recent weekend for a dear friend’s baby shower. It was wonderful to see old friends, old crushes and old haunts. I loved being introduced to new babies, new spouses and new homes. I got legally drunk in bars with people I used to illegally drink with in parks, by the river and in certain parent’s basements. We even had an unfortunate run-in with the cops. It felt just like old times. Except it wasn’t.
I couldn’t figure out where the nagging sadness I felt on my way to the airport was stemming from (and no, it wasn’t due to my raging hangover). As I sped down I-85 with tears in my eyes, I realized this: traveling to Atlanta is no longer coming home. It’s visiting old friends and reminiscing about good times – but it is no longer my home.
I have created a new home and a new life in Washington DC. It involves an overpriced apartment, a bearded gentleman who is my sun, my moon and my stars, great friends and a happy hour or two. I love my home. My home is not perfect, but it is perfect for me.
There’s nothing wrong with a walk down memory lane. But letting go of the past can be so freeing. My present and my future is filled with so much happiness that I can’t help but to want to sprint towards it with my arms wide open.
Gotta go. My flight home is boarding.
My parents, that is. More for the way it sounds, I guess, versus the actual person.
* * *
I have thought, recently, that my life is pretty great, although it would be great if I could stay out of my own way. Broken bones and other minor catastrophes have been interruptions of really happy times.
But for whatever reason, I saw stars this time. And when I tried to tell someone what happened, I couldn’t get the right words from my head to my mouth. And then I cried.
I didn’t go to the hospital or the doctor until Wednesday. They said I have a concussion but no bleeding in my brain (!!) or anything. They told me to rest.
At first, the plot of Law & Order reruns was too much to comprehend. The sun felt too bright. I suddenly needed my glasses to watch TV.
Until Sunday, the worst of my concussion was the dizziness. Oh, and the utter boredom of resting without reading or writing much.
On Sunday my parents visited and I took a cab to the city. The ride made me dizzy and nauseated but I thought I’d be OK. At first, I was.
But then I crashed. Hard.
Approximately forty-five minutes in, my head began throbbing and the dizziness required me to rest my head on the wall behind my seat. I couldn’t finish my lunch. Mom and Dad sent me home.
This totally sucks. I cannot recommend that you get yourself a concussion when presented with the option.
Sidebar: I requested a stupid Uber. A driver confirmed and for whatever reason, I added my destination. Time passed, I opened the app to check for the driver’s ETA and…nothing. Apparently the driver didn’t want to go to Williamsburg, canceled and I didn’t get a notification. Fortunately I found a yellow cab soon after and within thirty minutes, I was in my bed.