"There is no one between you and me” Czeslaw Milosz
When I started this blog in 2006, I instinctively titled it Augustine’s Confessions—no other name for this even brushed by. So, I’ll confess. I turned 65 today. Who woulda thunk? I’m proud and grateful. I had one open-heart surgery at 51, and another one eight years later, and the year after that a surgeon put a VERY IMPORTANT stent in my left main artery. For a couple of years my cardiologist checked to see if it was still open, via heart catheterization every six months and it was always fine, so we decided not to go through that for awhile. Oh, and I have a messy neurological disease called Myasthenia gravis (it’s always done that way, with a capital M and a small g ) Six and a half decades! I’ll tell you about them:
1-10: small New Jersey town, neighborhood full of kids, St. Paul’s Elementary, learned to read (!!!) ballet classes & Miss Lynn, 3 remarkable, funny, handsome, teasing, brothers, Mommy and Daddy, Ditty and Bob.
10-20: All of the above and first kiss (Dickie Young in the back of a bus) many more ballet classes, NYC and Juilliard, Antony Tudor, hard, hard, hard work, fell in love 2x, (one painter, one actor) sex, learned about theater, museums, drugs, music, living poor, marched against the war, Bob Dylan, dance, dance, dance, dance.
20-30: Went to Italy for a summer to perform at Spoleto, graduated from said Juilliard, fell in love with a piano player, moved to Albuquerque, taught at the University of New Mexico, started a modern dance company with the piano player and another Juilliard student, lost the guy, choreographed, performed on tour, did costumes, became a drinker, moved back to NYC.
30-40: Tore my Achilles tendon in performance, stopped dancing, kept drinking, sobered up, (32 years, now) went back to school, became a teacher in Florida (emotionally disturbed Kindergartners), almost got married twice, wanted a baby.
40-50: Got pregnant, got married, lost my baby, (the worst thing) spent a year living in England, (maybe the best year) moved to Maryland, dogs, cats, and gardens, taught older special needs kids, felt pretty damn middle class, went to a lot of doctors because I had weird things going on like double vision all the time and it felt like I was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro when I went up a slope, (a slope!) went back to Europe a couple of times, started to look a lot more like Mom.
50-60: Divorce, moved back to Florida to take care of Mom, then Dad, Mom died, my youngest brother, Ric, died, Dad died, (I know) got answers to my health mysteries, began writing poems and a bad novel.
60-65: Peaceful. One of my brothers, (Drago’s his blog name) and I live in a comfortable house with a dog and 3 cats. There are also outside cats who were born in our back garden and who have stayed around. Two of them beg to get their bellies rubbed whenever I go out to see them. My book of poems, “One Day Tells its Tale to Another” got published by The Linnet’s Wings, and I go off on road trips at least once a year to a poetry festival. My brother/housemate and I get along ridiculously well and so do the cats and our dog…and the other cats. My other brother lives in Philadelphia, but maybe he'll join us one day.
Some time ago I developed the habit of posting something on my Facebook page about a writer (usually) whose birthday was on that day. I wake up, feed the outside cats (and the inside animals if I’m up first) and start reading biographies. I’ve become pleasurably compulsive about this and today I had SO MANY birthday greetings from people who know me through FB.
I haven’t been writing this summer, but I’m going to. I’m going to write a book of poems about the ancestry research I went from dabbling in to doing intensively. It turns out my family comes from the first kings and queens of Scotland, conquistadors, Alsatian farmers, French pioneers, factory girls, and Irish refugees from the potato famine. During the 19th century my great-grandparents made it to Staten Island, New York and hooked up. And here I am. 65. I still dance, alone in the Florida room when Drago’s out teaching yoga, I still listen to Bob Dylan, (I’m more a Leftie than ever) and I still, as ever, love to read a good book.