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Tuesday, August 26

the fifth floor

She manages a gift shop and wants to wholesale my book pins. Can I meet her with samples to get things going? Of course. She lives just blocks from me in an aqua blue post modern fiasco of a high rise that is as out of place on the mansion studded street as a yurt and I am tickled to finally see the inside. I push the buzzer beside her name and she sings out "hello, hello..." and the door releases.

Inside it is sadly institutional, but when the elevator reaches her floor she is waiting at the end of the corridor, motioning me in. I remember her now from the weekend's show. A small but sturdy woman with a shock of reddish brown hair and a disarming personality. She is the mother of the woman who wants the pins for her book store in Boston. She ushers me in and the first thing I see is the city rooftops, hills to the distance (what are they??), and light. Light everywhere from the windows that stretch across the front and side of the main room. It's like Trump, I laugh and she agrees. Who knew?

It is a smallish apartment, but there is a baby grand piano covered in family photos, traditional and antique furniture, abstract art and collage cover the walls. She is so happy to see me. She loves the little pins. We get to chatting as women will. Soon I know her children, her husband and his challenges. I know she lives here now because of a condition that made climbing the stairs in her 3 floor home impossible. I think she may be just a few years older that I, but she is almost 20 yrs older and I am amazed. We talk about living in other places and how dear old Buffalo just calls to us, about missing our kids, about responsibility and yearning for carefree days. About art and craft and creativity.

Her husband shuffles slowly down the hallway toward us, eyes me quizzically. He has a soft, warm face under a baseball cap and a twinkle in his eye. I know the twinkle is fading, she has told me of his illnesses, but he is so sweet to me, so charming.He repeats my name several times and smiles. He wishes me well on "my endeavors" although he has no idea what they are and his wife has told him she will show him after dinner. He says goodbye to me and says he hopes I come back soon and turns back to his room. Isn't he sweet she asks with love in her eyes and in her voice and I agree, that yes, he is. The rest of the time, I can see him in a room at the end of the hall, watching his TV, waiting, I think, for his wife and his dinner.

It is time to go, she has so many things to be responsible for and dinner time is coming. She shows me the little kitchen with another city view and tells me how great it is that the apartment has 2 full baths. Then she walks me to the elevator and we talk more as we wait. When the door pings open, we touch hands, then hug and then she gives me a kiss on each cheek because of our shared European heritage she says and as the doors close she is showing me how the Dutch lightly slap each other's cheeks because they are not as demonstrative as we Italians and Greeks and I laugh and call goodbye through the quickly shrinking open space between us.

Sometimes you can't measure how good a show was for you just by counting out money. Sometimes you are rewarded by less tangible things. Like a half hour on the fifth floor with the windows reflecting the sun sinking toward the lake and 2 people showing you things you forgot about love and friendship, commitment and acceptance, and about the common language of women.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pat, the beauty of this post has tears dripping down my cheeks. You are the best.