Once upon a time when I was young Saturday night was fun time. Off to the skating rink or to the local teen dance hall. Maybe go bowling or to a ball game or movie. Always with friends, sometimes with a date, sometimes with my brothers and cousins. If it was summer my family might be camping out on a lake and we would be around a fire telling tales. Fun times long ago.
Then when we were young together my husband and I would spend Saturday night out with friends for dinner or finding someplace with a band for dancing. Maybe have a cookout at home or a party. Saturday night was for leaving the children with a sitter or with grandparents and letting our hair down.
Later when we had an empty nest we bought a houseboat and weekends were for parties on the pier or boat trips down the lake to find a lakeside restaurant or bar or maybe there would be a festival to attend. Might get together with the children now that they were grown up and take them somewhere special.
Then there were grandchildren and some Saturday nights were for keeping the grandkids so that the kids could go out and have a good time like we used to do. Bubble baths and story books have a special appeal all their own. Then they got bigger and there were soccer games and school plays to show up for.
Now here I am on Saturday night comfortable in my recliner. After cleaning up from supper I found an old Eagles concert on television and poured a glass of wine to sip as I listen. The husband has fallen asleep watching old war movies, since it is Memorial Day weekend. The dog is asleep on my feet which is nice because it is unusually cold tonight. We quit going out all together when the pandemic hit last year and have gotten used to that for the most part. Last Saturday, since we are both vaccinated, we actually went out for dinner and to hear a local band. It was outdoors overlooking the lake so not too much for our first post venture back out in the world.
More and more often these days I say to myself, “My how things have changed.”
I have started binging Pretend It’s a City on Netflix for the second time. Why? Well I am a big fan of Fran Liebowitz. I love her sense of humor. I admire her talent and attitude. I like to thing we are alike, that we have a common outlook on life.
On the surface it would appear that we have nothing in common. I am a small town girl. Never traveled as much as I would have liked. I made my living in several administrative positions and only have two years of college; community college at that. I used to go to church and even teach the children there. Now I am athiest. I have been married for fifty-five years and have six grandkids and two great grandkids.
Fran however, is a New Yorker extraordinaire. She has been successful as a journalist and comedian. She is a lesbian and Jewish. She has no children. She spends time with famous people just as regularly as I go to the grocery. So her world is entirely different from mine.
When listening to her interviews my mind says “I would have said that”. It’s like we see the world the same way even from our very different perspectives. And, she looks a lot like my great aunt Louise, who was a character in her own right. I like that Fran does not abide bullshit. When she gets a stupid question she doesn’t answer it. Just points out the idiocy and moves on. Fran wears jeans with a big cuff and boots. I love that . I would wear that. In fact, I think I will wear that.
If I could spend an afternoon hanging out with Fran it would be fantastic for me, but maybe a bit boring for her if she were as curious about my life story as I am about hers. I can come up with one or two items worth telling but nothing to compare with her New Yorker life. But that is not really the main thing that makes her so interesting. It’s the way she cuts to the chase. How informed she is. She has experiences many ordinary people like me only dream about and it all seems so plain to her. I bet we would have a great time.
Like Fran, I have no use for bullshit. I like a good laugh. I have opinions and don’t mind sharing them. Can’t abide fake people. I am liberal and do not put up with bullies. Maybe we were sisters in another life.
As long as I can remember my favorite way to dress for costume parties has been as a flapper from the Roaring Twenties, the era of my grandparents’ youth. According to family gossip overheard at various holiday gatherings my great aunt Louise and my grandmother, Opal, were party girls when they were young. I suspect that to be true from what I noticed of their personalities. So I was impressed by their stories of jazz bands and speak easies enough to imitate them.
For my sixteenth birthday my parents let me though a costume party, since my birthday is just before Halloween. I rigged up a fringed skirt, a long-waisted blouse, strings of beads (pearls sorta) and wore a headband with a fuzzy feather. It was actually pretty tacky, but at the time I loved it. Later as an adult I made costumes for my husband and me to attend parties and rented a zoot suit and red satin dress for a Halloween bash for the last time a few years back. Goodbye to the Roaring 1920’s, hello 2020.
UPDATE. This draft is from a late night of drinking back in January when it was cold and isolation was the theme of my life. Thought I would just go ahead and publish it anyway.
On Friday morning my husband and I talked over coffee about how to celebrate our 55th anniversary. We decided just dinner out and dessert at home. Maybe watch a movie on Netflix. Plans changed as the day wore on.
The last few years have had some difficult times. Our daughter died after a long struggle with COPD and other complications. We made it through this together one day at a time by concentrating on our remaining family and supporting each other. Our daughter’s grown children moved in with us which filled our days and gave me ways to fill my time.
My elderly mother-in-law sold her home and moved into a retirement home. We took care of the sale and the move and I took on managing her affairs and we took care of moving her again when she needed to go to assisted living and then again when she was hospitalized after about her fifth fall and had to go to a nursing home. She died in January after one year of isolation due to the virus. Now we are managing her estate.
My husband’s older brother battled Alzheimers for nine years and died on Friday. Jerry’s younger brother died several years ago and his father has been dead for twenty years, so Jerry is all that is left from his family. I have a brother and sister who both live far away. My parents have been dead for a long time.
While she was living with us our granddaughter had a baby girl just six months after her mom died. She was going to school and working part time and we helped with the baby. The baby’s father had been working out of town but lost his job and also moved in to take care of the baby and look for work close to home. They had a second baby girl when the first was eighteen months old, so we had this family of four and our grandson living in our house until she finished school, went to work and they moved into their own home.
A few months after our granddaughter’s family moved out our grandson found a job in another city and he moved out. His dog stayed with us, so we don’t have a completely empty nest.
All this history leads up to the anniversary date that we just weren’t up for after my sister-in-law called to tell us that the brother was now at peace. We got burgers from a drive through and spent the evening with memories of those we have lost along the way. One more time we have to go through the grief and adjust to another empty place in our hearts. It has become commonplace, but not really easier.
Now we have fewer obligations, fewer demands on our time and we don’t always know what to do with ourselves. What’s my point? Damn if I know. I know that I got through today by cleaning house and walking the dog. I will probably get through tomorrow the same way. If I figure this all out I will let you know.