Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fragments - Handle With Care

"I close my eyes in the darkness that smells of mildew and bygone lives, my mind casts back, a line thrown across years and continents. Against my will - or maybe in tandem with it, who knows anymore? - I remember." - from "The Nightingale", Kristin Hannah

 Today : "You have a third of your life left according to one of the sound bites describing Renata Singer's new book, "Older and Bolder: Life after 60". Thirty years, but I've already used up nearly a third of what's left! I do a little bit of arithmetic.

The Seventies - According to Bloomingdale's
A third of a third... I don't want to know. But I must read the book. And I wonder what Renata Singer sounds like - because like me - she is an Australian New Yorker.

I  google to an ABC Australia podcast, to listen to Renata Singer being interviewed. I knew here two-thirds of a life ago. She is as inspiring now as she was back then. All those years ago.

But what's with the photo gracing the podcast's webpage? A grey and white photo of drab grey and white old women, unstylishly dressed. At odds with what I expect of the book. Old women looking not bold. And very very old.

Still, I feel emboldened. And I haven't even started the book. Watch out folks!

Yesterday: On a bus. All the seats are front-facing. About three rows behind me I can hear a young woman, voice slightly raised. A clear voice. A young healthy voice. 

Dog Days on Sixtieth
I assume she is talking on her cell phone. But her voice gets louder and I turn to look behind me.

She's about 28, dark hair, attractive. Millenial-dressed. I avert my eyes and go back to staring straight ahead like all the other commuters. I can hear her clearly now. As can everyone else.

Like all New Yorkers we are doing our best to remain detached, at least outwardly.

"I can feel you thinking about me." She is almost yelling now. "I can feel your eyes. Your eyes are touching me. I hate their touch. Touching touching."

At a bus stop a woman gets on and stares. She is looking uncomfortable as she looks around at us, all of us New Yorkers, all looking straight ahead as if nothing is happening.

I feel we should do something. "Reach out," as they say. But I'm not going there.

I can hear the young woman. Yelling now.

"I feel like getting my hands around your throats," she's saying. "I want to squeeze hard around your necks and watch your heads turn yellow and green. I want to see your heads, your heads, your heads pop off!"

The sensitive woman who got on one stop earlier looks behind her, hesitates, and then gets of the bus at the next stop.

I am thinking about people in movie theaters in America getting shot. What are we meant to do when someone is clearly unhinged?  Did anyone tell us? Do I remember? I think of telling the bus driver. I'm getting nervous.

Then I remember; I'm in New York - we don't do guns here - well not on buses anyway. All those mass shootings were somewhere else. Someone else's problem. I relax. Visibly.

When the bus stops at my destination on Sixtieth, I get off. I don't even remember enough about the young woman to even look back.

Last week: You never stop being a mother. And your children never stop being your children.

In my head I am stuck at being twenty seven years old. Not unusual I have been told.

But my children? In my head they are stuck at being three. The age of questions.

And it is my duty and instinct to answer those questions. With answers that assume that my children, my eternal three year-old children, actually need me to explain, even the obvious.

Take at this little bubble of text convo for example.

What was I thinking? That my over forty year old daughter - herself a mother of a four year old - didn't know the basic workings of of the human digestive system?

Geez mum, indeed!

Stay tuned.  


Anonymous said...

>>your children never stop being children.<<
Here I must disagree. Are you keeping them as children in your head because you feel responsible for their behaviour? Because you have a need to have dependent(s)? Because they lean on you and won't give up being children? Examine your conscience. As my younger daughter says, "I is who I is."

Kate said...

Dear anonymous - I think you need to get a sense of humour.

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