Turn, turn, turn

Where to begin. We lost my Nana at 11:58PM on St. Patrick’s Day; my dad’s birthday, her dad’s birthday, and one of our family’s most appreciated holidays. We toasted with Chivas and an Irish blessing and recounted old stories and even some long suppressed confessions that had us reeling and telling each other, “Shh, people are sleeping,” through hysteric laughter (without any enforced change in volume at all).

Collected from her final party once it started to die down, its attendees gone home for a night’s rest to prepare for another day of uncertainty, she left us wrapped in the warmth of her family’s love, snapshots of her incredible life flashing before her – the memories jogged by recounted stories as best could be remembered and shared by her children, children in law, and granddaughters. She held hands with her youngest son and my younger cousin on all of our behalf before going off to hitch a ride home with her sister, her neighbor, and her father. That’s how I choose to think of it, anyway, the idea presented by my aunt and cousin… and I thought I didn’t even believe in that sort of thing anymore. I’ll make the exception for this.

We spent her final day surrounding her in her small, yellow room in suburban Pennsylvania, seated on assorted chairs and stools borrowed from the facility’s communal areas. We were watched over with care by images frozen in the blissful timeline of our own happy family memories captured and command stripped or taped to the walls. We rotated frequently and each held her hands. Some flew from the west, racing against an unknown deadline with all their might, and some said goodbye through others and through phone calls and videos. We all made it in time in that she knew we were each thinking of her. Of that I am absolutely certain.

We told her we loved her so much and that we knew she loved us too even though she couldn’t say it with words. So powerful was our matriarch, even in her final days that she drew us to her like moths to her sheltered flame. Wordless, her energy’s container frail, our need to be near her was so strong. We let her know she made us who we were- members of a family, a close knit tribe unlike any I’ve ever heard of – despite living on split coasts and across different states.

The grief comes in salty Atlantic waves with foamy Pacific crests and words get crumpled up like moist Kleenex sometimes. Tomorrow will be easier and each tomorrow after.

There is a season.

Turn, turn, turn.

“… Begin Again”

I just finished watching “Begin Again” again and have the film’s kick-ass soundtrack playing on my brain, the notes dancing on the goopy, textured surface in rainboot tap shoes, splashing in puddles of imaginary sound, raising drops of neon rainbow slime-matter in the dark space of my mind. Right now, this is how I envision the way I hear the music that is not actually playing. How do you “not hear” music?

To quote my mom, “Anyway…”

The movie took me on a tour of my home city of seven years, inviting me to revisit a bench I used to eat lunch on almost every day in Soho as an escape from a job I really didn’t enjoy, the stage-for-activism-and-art steps leading up to Union Sq. Park, the Washington Square Park Arch and fountain where I tried and failed to write my final Playwriting assignment in my senior year of college while visiting New York and waiting for Mike to get out of class. I was distracted by a sunny day and the ultimate people watching opportunity, my desire to write evaporating off the warm pavers, floating away from me like an escaped balloon.

I often forget how much I miss it… but I recognize how defining my NYC residency is to me that going back and revisiting old haunts evokes a nostalgia that gives me a (good – kind of?) heartburn. It also, at times, reminds me that I am missing out on unique experiences of New York City-living during these historic times, jabbing me in the ribs each time a once-in-a-lifetime experience passes me by because I wanted to and influenced us leaving.

We visited our erstwhile neighborhood on Friday and stopped “in” to enjoy outdoor experiences at some of our, once-local, establishments. We even brought some Brooklyn home with us. To-go growlers are a wonderful thing as I am – currently – pleasantly quenched with my favorite Brooklyn brew, Green Eyes IPA from Keg & Lantern Brewing Company in Greenpoint. Set in a washed up musician/producer headspace a la Mark Ruffalo in the beginning of Begin Again, I drank a couple of juice glasses of this emerald eyed elixir because I was too lazy to wash a real glass.

I am continuing a celebratory mood sparked by current events and outcomes from Saturday, November 7th, ones that washed a sense of calm and relief over most of those in my personal community. The tension and uncertainty of last week caused a lot of stress for me and for many people whom I love and since midday Saturday, that tension melted into relief, tears, smiles, cheers, and a spreading warmth of hope.

For those of you who are disappointed, I hope you will see the positive in this change and see unity, justice, and representation as possible, necessary, and important. People are born in many different forms. Some experience evolution of self during their lifetime. Some just want to have the right to love and to live without judgement, threat, or fear, and to not only feel safe but to be safe in those identities. Those differences are a wonderful thing and life would be un-recognizable without them.

I did not get to dance (you’re welcome) or swig champagne in the streets of NYC, but I sure wanted to. I am so grateful to even have had the experience to see videos, posts, and photos of individual and neighborhood-wide celebrations, of friends crying tears of joy, of my Philadelphia family cheering on their city with such deserved pride. Thank you to the wave of humanity, empathy, love, inclusion that showed up and turned out; we wouldn’t be here without you. I am ready for this rebirth. I am ready to…