Saturday, November 27, 2010

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right .... B. Dylan

Angelina Jolie doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving out of respect for Native Americans. I’m sure there are many Americans who choose not to celebrate the holiday for one good reason or another, but my brother Drago and I planned to do something festive. You know, carry on with things, even though it looked like it might be down to the two of us. We could go out, I thought, but I hoped something else would come up.

Sure enough, he and I were invited to share a feast with new friends of his, Louis and Julio. My brother and Julio teach yoga at the same gym. Big relief for me. I hadn’t really wanted to go to a restaurant, but the idea of Drago and I having turkey and trimmings at home by ourselves seemed kind of, well, paltry, compared to the grand family gatherings of the past. There used to be a lot of us. I even had a husband and stepchildren for awhile.   Last year, when Dad was still alive, we’d had our neighbors over, which we’d been doing since Mom died, but they were planning to visit Ben’s daughter. So, okay, then. Now we had plans.

A day or two after my eye surgery (see previous blog if you’re curious about that) I was on the Internet looking into designer eye patches. Drago came into my room with his phone. He’d gotten a text, he said (he hates texting) from Louis accusing Drago and the fitness director at the gym of bitchy gossip about Julio’s yoga-teaching being a bit swishy. At least that’s what Drago thought the text said. Neither of us are great shakes at reading these strange communications.  There were a few texted back and forths, and a phone call with the fitness director (boy was she mad about all this nonsense) then silence. Drago didn’t hear from either of the guys, and they didn’t show up for the classes he taught. In fact, Julio didn’t even show up for the class he was supposed to teach.

Time marched on and Thanksgiving Day was looming. (I had mixed feelings about the plans to go to their house by this time, anyway. One likes to look nice when one is the only woman among gay men at a dinner party-and I was stuck wearing a black eye-patch, over my eyeglasses. I’d tried under, but that looked even weirder.) Two days before the damn holiday, I suggested we order a small turkey and side dishes from one of the groceries that does that sort of thing for people like Drago and I were turning out to be: folks with no folk to bother cooking for, or anywhere to go. So we did that.

Then, at noon, on Thanksgiving day, Drago got a text from Julio saying (my brother was pretty sure,) that Julio and Louis had forgotten to tell him that dinner was switched to Friday at six, and they would like confirmation that he would be coming. I guess I was still included in the altered plans. Who knows? Drago, with admirable restraint, texted back, (he thinks) “I think not.”

Later in the day, our friend and housekeeper, Lydia, (I have a heart thing and don’t do heavy cleaning. Well, okay, I don’t do much light cleaning either) came over with lovely, cooked Cornish hens, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and even chicken broth in case the stuffing got dry. I could see well enough to heat all that up, and Drago and I ate Lydia’s home cooking rather than the take-away turkey dinner we had stashed in the garage refrigerator.  Then I watched “Night of the Iguana” on Turner Classic Movies, 
(I wonder how that particular movie got slotted for Thanksgiving) TCM, and Drago worked on his current drawing. We’ve each been producing a steady stream of jokes about this FUBAR, then not at all FUBARED, first-holiday-without-other-family or friends, for each other all week. Drago and I did fine. I wore my patch, didn’t have to put a bra on, and my brother has Zenned his way far beyond intrigues, especially texted intrigues. One of these days I’ll write down his stories about Christopher Street, in NYC, in the early eighties. You know, before AIDS really hit, when he and his friends were doing fine.

Um. If you don’t know what FUBAR means, you can Google. It’s a real handy little acronym. Easy to text, too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First there was an exciting, interesting, scenic, warm, loving, poignant week and then there was a frightening, frustrating, blurry, chilling, discouraging week

What happened was my brother, Drago, and I traveled to Philadelphia to visit my other brother, Leon, his wife, Rae, their new home, their funny, stately, standard poodles, Ajax and Harry, and a bit into the week, go to the Moravian cemetery on Staten Island, New York, where Mom’s, Dad’s, and my brother Ric’s ashes are staying. We met our cousins, Simon and Cosette, at the cemetery and after some time there we went to an excellent Italian restaurant, La Strada, (real name) right there on New Dorp. Simon and Cosette are from different sides of our family, and had only met each other once before, in 2006, when they put my mother’s “cremains” (I didn’t know that word until last March, when Dad died. I don’t like it much. Just don’t.) in the wall, which sits on the highest hill on Staten Island, giving all the ashes and bones  a lovely view of the bay.  Lunches, dinners, a visit with Leon and Rae’s daughter and four month old grandson, playing with the poodles, taking walks around, admiring every single thing about Leon and Rae’s converted carriage house, the kind of Eastern/autumnal weather I miss most, seeing my cousins and helping them get to know each other, which for some reason I felt they already should have -like something got messed up there- all that was very, very fine. I didn’t fall or knock anything over and I think I did a good job of keeping up. Well, Drago was there to help me in the airports, and everyone toned down the outings for me, I think.

Then came a massive change in mood. Right after Drago and I got to the Philadelphia airport, to fly home to Panama City Beach in Florida, I started seeing spidery black things in my right eye. Not your regular floaters-these were seriously alarming. I didn’t say anything about it until after my brother and I got through security, then I told him I had almost no vision in one eye. (By that time, when I looked at what my eye could see, there were only light and dark blurs and possibly a billion little black dots.) We kept calm, probably for each other, and because we both badly wanted to get all the way home without a fuss.  I did indulge in great bursts of cursing, shouting, and bewailing my fate, but carefully kept all that to myself. By the next afternoon I’d seen three eye doctors, and the day after that, a Saturday, I had undergone eye surgery for two retinal tears and a retinal hole. I also looked uglier than I can ever remember looking as in a bloody eyeball, bruising, swelling, one helluva dark, crappy looking, eye. This second week of quiet terror has ended. I still can’t see, but my vision is supposed to come back, and I don’t look as scary. I’ve been told to keep my head down 45 minutes out of every hour, which, of course, I’m not at all good at. But Drago took me back to the eye surgeon yesterday, and the doctor was satisfied with my progress. Our cat and dog have been keeping me company when my brother is out, or in, for that matter, and although I bump into things, I’ve kept my balance almost all the time. (I did fall over an armchair.) I plan to cook tonight-but not chop. I’m not up to chopping.

I know this is a long blog entry, but I’ve been musing all week on the fantasticality of one week rolling right into such an utter mess. Remember the Vonnegut novel where he keeps saying “So it goes…”?  He really had something there, didn’t he?