ADVENTURES IN SINGLENESS


I’D LIKE TO RIDE A CLAIRVOYANT CIRCUIT INTO THE MINDS OF SINGLES OVER THE AGE OF SIXTY.

I’ve often questioned why advertisements; the media, and politicians do not address this segment of society. We don’t hear, the beginning of a statement whether it is legislative, political, social, or cultural, Singles around the country are not traveling, purchasing more products, refusing to get vaccinated are unemployed…etc.  We are a minority class; I found statistics on The UnmarriedAmerican.org website. More searching led me to the American Association for Single People website.

  • There are 106 million unmarried adults in the United States.  Singles constitute more than 44% of the adult population in the nation.
  • About 44% of the nation’s workforce are unmarried employees
  • The Census Bureau estimates that about 10% of adults will never marry.

I’m not going to make a huge leap into this as my thoughts are more about adventures in singleness.

This conversation is from a close friend, married for twenty-some years.

“You are so lucky you have no idea. If I were single, I’d move somewhere where life is simple, maybe Greece.”

“You don’t know about the loneliness, the awkwardness of holidays, the fear when you get sick and have no one to care for you, so many things really.

“I can think better when I’m alone.”

I told her I understood. That is the crucifix of making my pen my mate rather than a three-dimensional man( Temporary singleness). Some of my interactions go like this; going out to dinner, “Are you alone?” She or he leads you to the most obscure table. Then she or he removes the second table setting and suddenly aloneness is visible. An hour later another customer asks if they can use the spare chair. That’s when I ask for the check and leave.

Taking a road trip and feeling vulnerable when I’m pumping the gasoline and a stranger is gawking at me and I’m in the middle of nowhere.  It is usually truck drivers and I immediately think of Thelma and Louise.   More recently, I hired a new snow shoveling company operated by one single man.  On the third plow last winter he texted me, “One night with you and I won’t charge you for the rest of the season.”  A gal pal replied after relating this story,

“You should be flattered and he is twenty years younger! What does he charge?

“Seven hundred for the season.”

“That’s hilarious! Well, be careful and lock your doors, you’re all alone out there.”

I texted him that he should never make that kind of offer to a customer and I will not report you but you could lose your business or be sued. He agreed and I let him finish off the season as it was too late to find another one. I found a new company this year and he’s happily married.

Dressing for an event that I’ve never been to on my own. In my closet, I lay out three different outfits. Then I have a wary of decisions on which shoes, flats or heels. When I’m all dressed and ready to go self-consciousness billows up and I change the outfit. It’s a ridiculously amusing routine.

Living in a house that is a hundred and thirty-five years old speaks to me at night; a loose windowpane thrashes, a branch from a tree falls on one of the rain gutters, the mechanicals in the basement thump for some reason and I tiptoe around the house searching for an intruder.

Taking myself out for a cocktail just to get out of the house has numerous consequences. I end up sitting next to couples who are having a roaring twenties time of it and the only single man at the bar is fixated on his phone. Instead, the woman next to me strikes up a conversation about her boyfriend.

The other side of these dismal forecasts is; I have no arguments at home, (just interior dialogue) I can eat whenever I choose, watch what I elect on television, keep the bedroom light on, adjust the thermostat to my body temperature, and make all the decisions myself, the most infuriating and worthwhile to building courage, and self-reliance.

One of the lines in the Godfather struck me as an authentic gangster testimonial, “Women and children can afford to be careless, we cannot.”   As a teenager one of the repetitive reminders my father said angrily was, “Watch what you’re doing!”  This was the most relevant and truthful observation he made of me. Admittedly I am easily distracted and careless and ignore risk.  Just yesterday I placed a skillet of homemade croutons in the oven and then decided to empty the trash. As it happened my neighbor, Lorraine was in her driveway so I said hello.  The Adirondack Tree Surgeon had recently stopped by her house, as they did mine and marked one of my sidewalk trees for removal.

“Are they going to cut your tree down too?” I asked.

“The city is responsible for the sidewalk trees, but they cannot remove one on your property. They just came by to trim the branches since mine is on my property.” I was absent for ten minutes. When I entered the kitchen, it was smoked out and a small fire was burning in the skillet.

Without someone to look after my carelessness (I’ve been on my own now for five years) I still catch myself in these adventitious circumstances.

Winter Dressing indoors!

POSTCARD FROM IRELAND


It was a day like today, just after the rain soaked every blade of grass, and the world looked squeaky clean as if it had been mopped with God’s soap. I was sleeping in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar berth on a ferryboat that swayed like a rubber raft. I was awakened by a knock at the door. “Ma’am. We’re here.”  I looked at the young man questionably.“Ireland,” he added and shut the door. “We’re here?” I twisted myself round in the blanket and raised my chin to the porthole.Oh my God– It exists. Look at that tiny little village and the little harbor and the colors.

I landed at the Port of Rosshaven from London where I’d spent two nights in a room the size of a cigarette holder. I loved London as much as I could in two short days; carrying thirty-five pounds of clothes. Part of one day I spent packaging up half my wardrobe to ship back. The plan was to spend one month in Ireland. Other than that, my itinerary was unplanned. In those  days, I leveraged myself to the outskirts of foolery.I gathered my Northface garment duffle, shoulder bag, and departed the ferry.  It was Sept. 5, 1987, and I was thirty-something, recently separated from a career in commercial real estate and my pad in the Bankers Hill neighborhood of San Diego. Everything went into storage so I would be free to conquer whatever it was I thought I was conquering.

That first day I made my  way to the picturesque village of Kinsale. The tourist office made the reservation for me and suggested that I rent a car. No need, I thought. I’d get around on my own for a while. She slapped a map of Ireland on the desk and pointed to several towns and then counted the miles between each town. “The buses stop running in September because all the tourists have gone home. You be wee on your own.” “ Well, I’ll look into it tomorrow. I’ll just get a cab to the Bed and Breakfast tonight.”

That night ended faster than any in my life. I woke up and decided to stay another. I could not part with the warmth of the Innkeeper’s country kitchen and the canary yellow bedroom, or the county road, the red barn and the miles and miles of rollercoaster hills cushioned in that indescribable Irish green. Her house was a quintessential B & B, blushing with the right bedding, Irish linen, French and English antiques and contemporary restaurant-grade kitchen.

I remember the Innkeeper drove a BMW, and her house sparkled as if it had been photographed earlier. That first day I walked into dreamland, and I did not come out until I left Ireland.  This was my first solo trip to Europe. I began with Ireland because my friend, Kenny, insisted I go find the Casey in me. That’s my mother’s maiden name. Everyone thought I should be institutionalized for taking off like I did; mid-career on the rise and all of that.

That first evening I walked into town and ate at the restaurant the Innkeeper recommended. I wish I could remember the name of the place. It’s written in my journal, but the journal is in Taos, NM. Anyway, that dinner still rates in the top ten of all dinners, including all those four-star French Michelin Chateau feasts I found my way to later on in the trip. I hit a dozen villages between Clare, Kerry and Limerick. I took a seaweed bath at the seashore of Ballybunion, stayed in a folk singers

The beach in Ballybunion in Kerry of Ireland.

The beach in Ballybunion in Kerry of Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

luxury hotel for a week because he wanted me to bring his tape back to America, attended an Irish wedding and the racetrack in Dublin. I watched the Farmers Matchmaking Festival in Lisdoonvarna and climbed the hill to the Cliffs of Mohr.  On my hike up to the cliffs, I passed a man gardening in his front yard. He stopped and began to chat. His house was so beautifully Irish, handcrafted in brick and stone with acres of fertile land as his back yard. I told him it was the most beautiful home I had ever seen. He turned around in his rubber boots, leaned against his pitchfork, and said, “America, that’s where I want to go.” He said he would give me his house if I would take him with me. We talked for a long time about what matters, and as we parted I remember what he said, “Send me a postcard from America.”


PART 4. ALL THERE IS TO LOVE


ONE MONTH LATER ON THIS DAY she closed the shutters to his wanting eyes, and alchemized from a butterfly to a cocoon, beneath a circle of friends in tune.  She removed the photos, gifts, and letters, put them in a box to reminisce later. Talking out loud, “She takes just like a woman but” she will not break like a little girl. No more hours fanning the past, on this day my view is spanning.”  Into the night she sat peacefully by the fire and let her broken wing sing as she watched the wood turn to gold.  

By darkness, she ushers in a memory, a solo sojourn in Old San Juan.

Lounging in the dawn by a hotel pool, he appeared at her side, talking as if they met on another day. “ You’re from the  US ..  let me see if I can guess, by the bathing suit I would say, Los Angeles. Am I right? His smile opened wide enough to place an apple inside, and his darkened arms were on his hips, his hair clipped his neck, he dressed in a floral shirt and jeans. He wasn’t fat or thin, a body well-fed, a spirit too combustible to restrain, so she let him continue on his strain.  When she answered Los Angeles, he flung his arms wide open and immersed himself into a storyteller about when he lived in Los Angeles. The commonality swept him into a chair next to her and several hours later, they were paired in Old San Juan.

She finds breaking off pieces of her love life is like a tasting of sugary cupcakes, some better than others. The ones she is sure she will never see again are the sweetest.

It’s Not About Me Anymore.


Without a partner, lover, or relative nearby during our feared and festive flights of life, our ribs cave. You just cannot eat cake alone on your birthday, attend a funeral without a shoulder next to you, or celebrate a finished project without your best friend.  During these times of divisiveness, a pandemic, our favorite restaurants and shops out of business, and vigilante violence, it takes courage to be alone. It is you I am thinking of and I know you are out there, isolated. I listen to a lot of music, from Opera to Salsa, shout myself out of bed, attend to mediocre mindless tasks and think about all of us singles, without children, or family and friends out of my reach in Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Scottsdale, Sedona, and Florida. Each one holds a podium on the telephone, as I listen to their feelings, they are variations of a Chopin or Bach recording. The sadness and fear each one is holding at bay, reveal their authentic character. Isn’t it an extreme tragedy that holds a spotlight on our soul and spirit? One friend reminds me to refrain from judging myself too harshly, another advises how fortunate I am to be in a safe small village, with very few deaths, and another says simply, I’m falling apart.

We are now forced to learn our supreme strength, our survival methods, and how to structure a new lifestyle. When was the last time you were tested? Remember that and you will forge ahead.

Watch The 12th Man | Prime Video (amazon.com)

HOPSCOTCHING THE TRUTH TWO


Three days later: The door is locked now, it will pop open now and then, in my interior rearview mirror. My secret can only be revealed after mounds of trust have been sifted and sealed. The former LouLou trusted, effortlessly, so the truth is I cannot behave that way anymore. Or can I?
It is the most destabilizing force of emotion to accept I trusted someone who betrayed our thirty-five year “Huckleberry Friend” song. I don’t know how anyone else adapts to this. I’m kinda staring out the window, like a cat staring at an unreachable mouse. When I’m in this mood I listen to Bobby Darin and Tony Bennett, I’m a bleeding nostalgic.  Photo Credit Philip Townsend. ” London in the Swinging Sixties.”

WEST LOS ANGELES TO EAST SARATOGA SPRINGS NY


A metallic sky is blowing the cotton ball clouds with the force of a lawn blower, a collage of sunflower leaves brush beauty in the windows of my home, and the act of observation becomes my pastime, here in the Northeast.


The Village of Ballston Spa.

When I used to sit on the stoop in front of my Westwood studio, it was the dogwalkers and gardeners, visitors and residents that my eyes laid on, with a backdrop of high rise two million dollar condominiums, with concrete terraces, usually vacant, that formed the view and from that, thoughts randomly trapped, wish I owned that, wish I had that car, wish I had that man. It is amusing, how one’s view can determine one’s thoughts.
West Los Angeles.

On the street where I live now, homes are two hundred years old, or newly built to imitate the Victorian era. The automobile is sturdy, practical, and unwaxed. The way of this wonderment brings simplicity into my life. No need to dress up and fit in, it’s the opposite here, dress down to fit in, or like me, a combination. You are not watched, observed, questioned or complimented, because, well I don’t know the answer, not yet. This is the day after a storm. Half of a tree collapsed in my front yard.

 

The Polar Freeze had to arrive with me, and the test was not so much about the snow outdoors, it was how to stay warm indoors without running up my gas bill to five hundred a month. Luckily, I found my Irish wool sweater in the basement, that is so large I can wear three sweaters under it, then the leggings, knee-high woolen socks, hats, and gloves even indoors. My activity was limited to bringing the furniture from the attic, basement and unloading the UBox from Los Angeles. Boxes of books and china, photographs, records, and bric a brack from so much antiquing. Three months later the house was staged. I was left with a fractured elbow, but the scenery indoors plays a critical part in your emotional health, because it is too cold to play outdoors.

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Most of my conversations came in Nomads, where I’d have a Cortado and some eggs, and talk with the owners who were also my tenants. I begged myself to interview them properly with a recorder, but I never did. They astounded my fictional idea of a millennial, not being general but based on what I observed in Los Angeles. In LA they don’t talk to adults unless you have a common bond; a tattoo or a protest sign. Nick and Alex have the play stations, all the tech knowledge of a Microsoft department, but, instead, they talked about literature, foreign films, and psychology. These are my subjects so if we began the conversation at eleven am, we finished at noon, minus the interruption of a customer. Many times, I’d ask for an explanation, and they’d answer without snickering or amusement. I recall one time I asked, ” Don’t you get tired of hearing adults say, you’ll understand when you get older (they are both nineteen years old) and Nick answered within a second, ‘No, because I know a lot they don’t. ‘Don’t forget I used the internet when I was five years old.’

The customers, mostly local residents, come solo or in large groups, families with toddlers, mothers and daughters, uncles, and nephews, everyone here that I met has a huge amount of family, which caused me some hesitation when asked, ‘you have family here, don’t you?’ After that question dozens of times, I thought maybe I should make one up. I’m not and never have been a believable liar.

The volume of their voices is another adjustment, not in a bad way, just a curiosity, they do not contain their vocal strength. Maybe it is a part of the heritage, just the New York way of conversing, but it is self-effacing genuine. I never detected a play on pretense or arrogance. Imagine how refreshing, like a gulp of spring water from a waterfall, after the playacting that overrides conversation in Los Angeles. To be continued.

Saratoga Spa Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN ADOLESCENT ADULT


Remember when you opened the door to your own car and took hold of the steering wheel without any parental supervision.

As a teen, my Chevrolet Impala was a haven away from my father. I rolled all the windows down, turned the volume up on the radio, and smoked. My secret joy was hoping the driver next to me would hear the music and notice me. If he was a suitable face I turned around and bobbed my head. Then, just as he looked over at me, I turned away, and looked in the rearview mirror, or sang my heart out to show off brazen behavior, the kind I couldn’t express at home.
There was a sense of freedom from examination and explanation. When I drove my spinning Impala that leaped over road bumps in three waves, I was going somewhere alone.
 It was the only self-contained space my father wasn’t attached to, and he didn’t like driving with me, because he didn’t like me being in control. That is the sensation that life brings to us in volumes as teens; explosions of discovery. Today I don’t experience that sweat of discovery; my life is deodorized.

Remembering the sensations I felt as a teenager, reminds me to intertwine more challenges, sports, mental and academic thought into emotional adventures. If I’m lucky to break through all the percentages of disease, that the late night commercials warn me off, the edge of my rhythm is asking me to make a commitment; to put the Bo’ Jangles back in my steps. I heard the voice yesterday, almost a whisper, asking me why I exclude long term commitments: joining groups, classes, associations, serving on committees, planning ahead, even magazine subscriptions are not worth the trouble because I am always planning on moving.

 

 

The answer always comes in the photographs that bring back that moment in time, and the immediate recollection of the internal places I moved from venturing into the unknown.
Many years ago, I was in therapy, and in one discussion, this discourse occurred that I considered an awakening then.
“I think you jump into unknown places, and situations, to test yourself, and you do that because that is what your father did most of his life.”
That is what adolescent behavior is meant for, to learn by experiment, to see how far our strength of character will take us.  We each have a different set of alarms and temptations. Why compare what one has to the other? My path is familiar to me, I am a born mistress of unfamiliarity; the quest for discovery keeps me moving.

 

 

As a teenager, I remember the most remarkable configuration of images, that passed by while I was driving, the faces of shopping mothers walking the streets of Beverly Hills and Westwood, the prostitutes positioned along one section of Sunset Boulevard, and their counterpart degenerate gin-soaked soul mates inched up against abandoned buildings, the Ocean Park joggers, and walkers, and picnickers, waving to each other, as they slapped together hard boiled egg and tuna sandwiches. Like a playroom without walls for Europeans’ and senior citizens to elope with each other. I didn’t favor one street life over another, they all made sense to me.

Living in the Northeast calls your pragmatic and sensible strings. I’m still learning how to tame my lust for unpreparedness; like going out without an umbrella, leaving delicate brick a brac on the porch, driving with caution for deer, rabbits, and turtles, maintaining a close eye on water in the basement,and dressing down so I don’t look like I’m from Los Angeles.  Every day is experimental in some way.  I don’t know how long I’ll be here, maybe that is how I like it. With every intention on writing about living in a village of five thousand, surrounded by forests and fields, my pen of expression is a bit too wobbly to publish. I’ve had this post up for editing all week, and it’s not a new one. Most of it was published in 2011. Is that cheating?     

   

THE FOLLIES HOUSE

Excerpt from soon to be finished book, Smiley’s Dice


THE SNOW SEDATED the choppy feeling in my stomach, the conjecture of  discovering why my father was wired with anxiety. His whole life was a chase scene: arrest him, convict him, send him to Russia, and never pull the tap from his apartment, or the FBI guys from his tail.

Me,  Diane Friedman and Cindy Frisch.

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Now there is a wash over my interpretation of his obsessive, protective, paranoia, distrust, and interrogation of my friends. I wonder if those gals I grew up with knew about Dad from their parents’. I relied heavily on the open arms of my friend’s families. They’re remembered more than my teachers: The Blair’s, Bourne’s, Both Friedman’s, Frisch’s, Hoffman’s, Pindler’s, Saunders, Schwadel’s,  Taubman’s, and the Tefkin’s.  Hope I didn’t leave anyone out.  I left out the Berman’s and the Crosby’s.

PART TWO CANDLES OF THE MOUNTAIN


ADVENTURES IN LIVINGESS-20140713_205128MALIBU

The next morning Chantal was not in her transparently privatized bedroom with a gauzy drape.  From the kitchen I’d poured a cup of black as beans espresso from Chantal’s Turkish coffee maker and dozily slumped into a swinging love seat on the lanai. Still in my pajamas,  listless as a floating cotton willow; the grounding I’d felt the day before had evaporated. Looking and listening to birds, rooster, and distant horses, all within a misty silhouette that filled in the hips of the mountains. Beyond the sea, the imagery of my reclusive life in Santa Fe manifested. The skin I wore in Santa Fe; unreasoningly introverted with a coating of protection flaked off and a news skin surfaced.
Just as the image is crystallizing, I sense Chantal crossing the garden towards me.
“ LouLou—are you okay?”
“ I’m not living right at all, ” I uttered without a smile.
She sat down beside me, placed her cell phone behind her, rested her elbows on her knees and leaned toward me to look in my eyes.
“ Oh why? You are not happy in Santa Fe?”
“ Not anymore-I see things differently now.”
“ Yes, this is what happens when we take vacation. If you’re life is not full then you must change it. It’s not always the place that matters, but how you live. You know some people like to suffer, this is not you. I know– believe me. I meet people from all over the world.  I traveled with Carl everywhere.”
“Well  I’m full now– but I’ve been in a cage.”
“ This is not good! I will tell you that since Carl died I too wanted to live in my bedroom and not even get out of our bed. So I worked day and night to keep his legacy going, and to manage the vacation rentals. I made myself so busy just to get through the pain. I was a mess; many times I didn’t think I’d get through it. But you see–I am okay now. I still think of him everyday and some days are rough; but this is life. We don’t know what will happen. You have to live now. When you die no one remembers you; they go on living. “She opened her mouth and her smile asked me to smile with her.
“ We will have a lot of fun you and I. You know I feel like we’ve known each other. You feel that too?”
“ Yes! I think my choice to come here was to meet you.”
“ Oooh lala-then we begin to enjoy. You hungry? I make some breakfast and then we go to Trader Joes. I make a party tonight. How’s that?”
“ I’d like that.”
“ You want some eggs–how do you like them?”
“ I’m so full of joy I have no appetite.”
She threw her head back, and laughed.
“ What time is it Chantal?”
“ It’s eleven o’clock. You sleep very late.”
“ No.  I never sleep this late.”

I followed Chantal into the kitchen where she was leaning against the stove frying eggs; she was on her cell phone.  ‘Cheri, you come tonight for dinner and meet my new friend LouLou.’  Then another call and another. To observe Chantal is to see the openness of a human being without hesitation, restraint or obsession. I followed her around for the rest of the day just like Kou-Koui; her little Habanese dog. Chantal’s  enthusiasm for the approaching party was seamless. As we shopped at Trader Joes, she chatted with customers, the grocery clerk, and the cell phone that rings continuously.

“ LouLou, is that you?”
I was passing her bedroom as she called me in and patted the bed for me to sit.
“Have you had a shower? I will take one after you. I marinated the chicken and meat, so all we have now is the salad.”

In the kitchen she is dressed in a skirt, neck-less blouse, and a magenta flower behind one ear. As  she demonstrates how to cut the cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado,  she darts from one skillet  to another. The music is ruminating through the house; a French wave of seduction and rhythm that entices us to dance around  the kitchen island.  I feel like a young girl learning to be a woman. She is only a few years older than me; yet  her human connection of livingness  is unbridged and unchained.

I intended to write a travel story about Malibu;  as you see the travel story is Chantal.

SMILEYS DICE ON THROWING ALL THE DICE


 

Adventures in Livingness

Upper Lanai

Upper Lanai

MALIBU- ISLAND
I was flipping channels one night in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I live. I stopped when the opening scene of Don’t Make Waves with Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate. Her name in the credits;  Introducing Sharon Tate. So I lay back against the warm sweat soaked pillows, turned on the A/C and watched. The first scene was on Pacific Coast Hwy in Malibu. Tony is in a car crash with Sharon Tate. The appearance of Sharon was that of Bo Derek in the film 10. A vine like body swimming in golden flesh with long honey sand hair draped over her shoulders. The flashback to the Mason Murder was soon replaced with this heart shape faced delivering sinewy gestures that matched her feathery voice. The film came out  in 1963 and the coastline was as pure and unmarked as Sharon; a winding highway empty of cars, cafes and promenades. This is the Malibu I remembered from my adolescent adventures to the beach to watch the surfers.

The scenery unfolded into breathtaking views of the coves and hillsides surrounding Malibu, like organic sculptures  drenched in sea-foam as waves broke. Within a few minutes I bolted up in bed and paused the film.

That’s where I’m going! My journey was given a name. I had a month marked out for a vacation away from Santa Fe while my house was rented to a family of eight. It was a month before the guests would arrive and I still had not penned in my destination.

I went to sleep half way through the movie mumbling to myself; Malibu, Malibu Malibu.
Please God, let me land in Malibu.

The next morning I fished for vacation rentals on the INTERNET and got hooked into
homes, cottages and condos for not less than $1000.00 a night. One estate rented for
thirty thousand a night.

I switched to Craigs list and scrolled down the postings, armored with Russian determination. A posting in bold black came up – MALIBU ISLAND. I clicked through the photographs and prayed. This is how I found my  room  in Malibu;a private room with an outdoor shower  in an estate home perched on the hills above El Matador Beach. In this house the owner, Chantal, also lived.   I booked the month without more than a day of what if’s and what nots could be expected.

To be continued.