Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Weddings and babies

First: News Flash:
Amazon picked THE OBITUARY WRITER as one of the top ten books this year so far!!!!!!!!!

Okay. Now that I got that out of my system...

Sitting up in bed on a sultry summer morning, the fan whirring and Annabelle sleeping beside me. Outside: gray sky, air heavy with rain. A strange few days, filled with so many different emotions. I spent the weekend in Ithaca to see Sam in HAIR! What an amazing show! Such talented performers, and such brilliant directing (ok, full disclosure...his girlfriend directed it). They performed it outside, which after seeing it in Central Park a few years ago I think is the best way to see that play. A rainy weekend, but the sun did shine in enough for the show to be outside. Only complaint about the weekend is not enough Sam time. But there never is, alas. Still, got to enjoy a picnic with all people associated with the play, and to have a souvlaki pita at the Farmer's Market.

(Coming soon to More Magazine, FYI, my essay on my smoker, a few years ago Christmas present that Sam mastered and I had to learn on my own last summer. Made some amazing smoked salmon...well, when the essay runs I'll put the link here and you can read all about it...)

Funny thing: at the hotel we were watching a show about a guy who builds tree houses and one was in Ithaca! So as we left town (we being Cousin GJ, Annabelle and me) we went to see it. Crazy! Also saw baby peacocks (peachicks?) there and snapping turtle feeding time and a butterfly garden before getting into the car for the long trek home. But those treks are numbered now that Sam has decided to transfer to NYU! He'll be studying at the Experimental Theater Workshop at Tisch starting in the fall! That means Monday night dinners with him...yay!

(Total digression here: if anyone knows of any sublets in Manhattan, preferable East Village or Lower East Side let me know? Sam is apartment hunting big time. And I can vouch for what a nice, reliable person he is!)

Anyway, we hit major traffic coming home, so that the 6 hour ride became an 8 hour ride. Cousin GJ spent too much time reading the NYT and doing the Sunday crossword puzzle. Passengers need to keep driver entertained, right??? The soundtrack to Matilda played about a zillion times. And so my mind wandered all around, until it landed on remembering that it was the anniversary of my brother Skip's death. With all my traveling this summer, I'm never sure what the actual date is. But I was calculating that when it hit me. 31 years. Yikes. And driving down the Mass Pike through torrential rain, I remembered that awful day. I was on a layover in LA (flight attendant days) and coming back from eating Mexican food I heard the phone ringing in my hotel room as I walked down the hall. Since no one ever knew where I was in those days, I knew immediately something was wrong. Picked it up and an old BF was on the other end, telling me he had very bad news, that someone had died. And I hung up on him. Twice. Before he could tell me it was Skip and that I had to make the red eye home.

I started to tremble remembering it, remembering that flight and entering the house and my father in his blue flannel shirt despite the heat, a bottle of Jack Daniels on the table. So many things I try not to remember came flooding into me. Does that ever happen to you? 31 years. But all of a sudden like yesterday. My handsome funny charismatic brother.

But then it passes. Not the grief, but the ache that makes your chest hurt. And next thing you know you're home eating pizza and drinking a really good chardonnay, then laughing in bed with your 9 year old and reading a good book and the fan is whirring and it starts to rain...

What makes this even stranger is that also this week--the 4th of July--is my father's birthday, and anyone who knows me at all knows how much I loved that man. I still go to sleep asking him for strength or advice when something really gets me down, or mad, or hurt. And I swear he comes through, even now. How he loved his birthday! I woke up every 4th of July to the sound of John Philips Sousa marches playing, loud. He'd already be drinking cold beer (and when I was old enough I'd join him, beer with breakfast) and getting food ready to grill and smoke (he built his own smoker way back). People would start arriving by 10 or 11 AM and stayed until way past midnight, for years in our backyard, but later at the beach where we'd rent a house every July. My friends. Skip's friends. Aunts and uncles and cousins and the card club ladies. Just everybody having fun. When the fireworks began, my dad always said they were for him.

And this year, sandwiched between these two dates, my niece Melissa (Skip's daughter) is having a baby boy. Today. In a couple of hours she's off to get induced, and I suspect there will be a baby born by tonight. I'll make corn chowder and vichyssoise and gazpacho to bring her so that the family can have soup any time they want it (I'm a firm believer in soup) and still get in quality baby time. How fitting that little guy is coming July 2. I think my father is working his magic again.

I'd like to end there, but in the heading I promised a wedding too. That's Saturday. In NH. My good friend Joyce Maynard is getting married and I am just so happy for her. Proof that we can find our soul mates after 50, and start new lives, and be happy. Annabelle is the flower girl. We're sharing a carriage house with my good pal Laura Lippman and her little girl. Arriving on Friday for rehearsal and pizza party. Wedding on Saturday. Lots of friends will be there, and I'm packing a case of wine and a couple newly knit wedding dishrags, plus my dear friend Francesco, and the flower girl, and heading to New Hampshire with bells on!

Let the celebrating begin!