Post Holiday Blues

sunset-rideIt’s not like I want to live in Los Angeles. I never could, but there was something wonderful about being there for Thanksgiving. Sunshine and warmth for starters. I was with my son, Clayton and his wife, Khrystyne. He is six foot three and wears extra large shirts, she is a tiny Vietnamese beauty who perches on his lap like the little bird she is. Clay took me along Mulholland Drive to the base of the Hollywood sign on his bright red motorcycle. I loved every minute. Riding with him is one of my favorite treats. He has been racing and riding motorcycles for as many years as I can remember. I place myself in his hands with complete confidence, but when he rides with no hands or on one wheel, it’s Khrystyne who’s on the back and not me. 

His other love is skateboarding. Clay has built a half pipe in his backyard. Friends roll back and forth becoming airborne under propane lights with mariachi or soul music pouring from neighboring yards. Clay lives in The Hood where folks are awake and active without apology. 

Thanksgiving at my growing up house was elegant and formal, fine dining at its best with imported wines, fine china, crystal glasses and cuisine that still lingers in memory. Chateau brignon, prime rib, lobster and scalloped potatoes were artistically arranged with fresh flowers, fruits and good silver. That was the gift of owning a restaurant and having a mother who appreciated fine things.

It was different at my son’s house. The only table sat near the wall, covered with computers, monitors and work orders. We cleared that off, sliding the table to the center. Then we washed off lawn chairs to make enough seating. There was no tablecloth. I drew the line at paper plates. I asked for music to dine by. Clay put on a collection of old Beatles songs, followed by Snoop Dogg.  I could not help but contrast our meal with the way I grew up. 

I’m proud of my son. He dropped out of high school and lived lost for a long time. After his daughter was born, he stabilized and followed his love of graphic design. He is thirtyeight years old now, and sought out by CNN, People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the Oscars and others. His visions are unique and bold. He has not forgotten how to play and still loves his mama. No candles and linen tablecloth could ever replace that happy ending. I could not ask for more, well, maybe more sunshine in rainy old Oregon.

The Telephone

parrot 

I was in my late twenties when I got a job as an Artist in Residence for the city of Portland. They sent a woman to my house to tell me the good news because I didn’t have a phone. Do you think, she asked, now that you’ve been hired that you would install a telephone?

Sorryit has nothing to do with money, I don’t want to live with a telephone.

Phones and I have never been friends. Don’t really know why.

Maybe because I have to stop whatever I’m doing and give them my complete attention, whether I want to or not. Maybe it’s the disembodied voice and lack of visuals that unsettles me – or maybe it was gathering my courage as a child to tell the operator that I needed the phone number for Walt Disney because I wanted to join the Mickey Mouse Club. I think he lives in Hollywood. That’s some place in California.

She dashed my dreams in one short sentence.  Quit playing with the phone kid. Click.

I didn’t give up. I wrote him a letter. One year later I got a postcard. Thank you for your interest. We’re glad you enjoy the show. Click.

benzDidn’t they understand that I was one of them? Didn’t they get how good I’d look in those ears? They should send a big long car immediately to snatch me out of my nowhere life and take me to my destiny. I could picture the uniformed guy stepping out of the driver’s seat and ushering me inside. He would put my meager suitcase in the trunk, as a souvenir, because the back seat would already be filled with my new, expensive, fit-me-perfectly Mickey Mouse clothes. Of course, I would miss my parents, but oh well, I’d get over it. What was wrong with those people anyway?

Maybe it was being sent to boarding school where telephones were off limits, although letters were allowed. I’d pour out my homesick heart and have my letters returned, misspelled words circled in red. Click.

My Aunt Ethel was a lifeline. She didn’t like phones either. She had her parrot answer hers. He was a huge colorful bird who toe nailed his way around an open silver perch. When the phone rang, she held it near his face and he’d scream HAIL OOOOOOOH. It was great.

Sometimes I carry a cell phone (to please my husband) when I can find it and it’s not dead. He is very modern and wants me to be. But I don’t like to take it. I like to lose it, because when it goes off it alarms me, sending me into the air with such force others assume I’ve been stung by a bee. It’s either that or fumbling for glasses, searching for the right button, and snap. Missed the call and took my photo instead.

My granddaughter, Isabella, asked how old her mom was when she got her first phone. Isabella thought perhaps she was being cheated by having to wait until she was out of elementary school. I wanted to tell her about phone operators who knew where your neighbors went and when they’d be back. I wanted to tell her about party lines and how each farm had a different ring and how you could spend hours listening in if you wanted to, agreeing or disagreeing in the middle of another persons conversation, but in the end I decided to leave it alone. She already calls me old school and asks what life was like before Christ.