Welcome to read about my
journey along the roads without names...
Who Are You, Who Am I.
"Each friend represents a
world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this
meeting that a new world is born" …...Anis Nin
I'm content now. Oh, I still
suffer pangs of guilt on those days when I am still clad in my pajamas past noon,
lost in a good book or someplace on the Internet. It is the reward for being
past my prime, for being 76. However, I have finally risen from the great fog of
cultural misunderstanding that my Italian friend Elaine Narduzzo had warned me
about. I had been unsuspecting, even blindsided when I began this adventure.
With a career of 26 years in Information Technology, I had worked with many
foreigners before without cultural conflicts. Co-workers came from all over the
world and the computer industry offered them a chance at a new life, a new
status for many in a welcoming industry.
Oh yes, I do remember the young
Iranian man who I had helped with his computer program. We shared many a lunch
and even his catalog of prospective wives, weighing the pros and cons of each
one. But it was his family that finally settled on a young doctor from Texas. I
was honored to be invited to the wedding and excited to witness the Islam
nuptials. Then, a few days before the ceremony, our manager announced I would be
assigned his supervisor. He then told our manager his religion could not allow
him to be supervised by a woman. That Friday, the day before his wedding, he was
fired. I did not go to the ceremony and so ended our friendship.
I have my routine, my groove,
that I swing into upon waking. I don't have to think about it, just do it, like
the seasons that continue year upon year. And the land has its routine too. The
bones of the garden are finally taking hold, roots have settled in, sending up
growth like was promised. I get their groove now, and they too are content with
their places. It wasn't easy this past year. There was so many spaces to fill,
moving and replacing plants that didn't bode well. But now, after the winter
bare trees dressed themselves for the summer and the unchained melody of the
birds fills the air, there is time enough for contemplation. I am Heidi, I am
Marie Von Trapp, I am David Thoreau.
And the forest has its groove.
An early April morning brought Reddy back to whelp her twin fawns in the
cul-de-sac outside my kitchen window. In the dim morning light I watched as she
lovingly licked them dry and offered her waiting tits. I think she sees me, ears
high on her head , watching now. I say nothing. As the days, then weeks, now
months drift by I see the little ones growing into gangling sprites, nibbling on
the fresh dandelion growth. I try not to think of last years twins, yet wonder
where they might be. Overhead a magnificent black stork glides above the trees,
long neck stretched, iridescent wings reaching out to the air currents as she
searches the trees for a proper nesting nook. Green woodpeckers sit on the fence
outside my window, smoothing their feathers before going back to work hammering
their nests into the trunks of the trees.
And then there are the Watchers.
They know my routine quite well. They lead the way as I move about, always just
a few feet ahead. It is as if we are one body. And if I try to alter my routine
a notch, the Watchers remind me gently with a slight whimper or a gentle nudge
or paw on my knee. Bailey is the boss of me, letting me know when the clan needs
to eat or go outside, and with his paws placed gently on my knees looks deep
into my eyes with his plea. He even knows when it is time for bed. He knows the
closing credits music of "Judging Amy" and comes to collect me for the
last trip outside before bedtime. This is followed by a carrot stick treat and
then off to bed. The others only look on patiently as he controls the routine.
Dear Nicholas is home for good
now and we will celebrate his 8th year in a few days. He has lived half his life
on the show circuit, always in love with who ever he is with. Yet, each time he
comes home, he is the same, knows the routine, remembers his special caring
nature, greeting me with paws placed gently on my shoulders and planting his
kisses on my face. He takes his place among the Watchers as if he never left.
Before the tulips, the lilacs,
and the wisteria leaf out, she arrives on schedule. Year after year, it is
always the first week of April she comes. Quietly she sets to work cleaning out
the dried leaves of the curly willow tree from the rain gutter above my door. It
is these small compact piles of leaves on my doorstep that tell me Esmeralda has
arrived. For a few days, I sweep them away. It is only when she is finished I
see her in her black bur-qua, her black stockings caressing her tiny legs, her
bright Corvet yellow lips and her midnight black eyes watching me from the limb
of the birch tree. She says nothing, asks for nothing, just sits there in
silence. Only when I say "Thank you Esmeralda" does she spread her
black cloak and fly off across the soccer field into the waiting forest. I don't
know what drives her to do this ritual, but I am glad for her caring. In a month
or two she will return to clean once again until the trees no longer offer their
Summer slithers by barely
noticed. While the honey bees sucked the nectar from the Lipa trees, Miro
cleared the growth from the neglected rear terrace. It become whole again, soft
and green and the Watchers run and chase their ball in their new playground.
Miro smiles and takes a shine to Sera as he cuts out the branches of the thorny
berry that entangles the juniper. Miro is a godsend, doing the things that need
done. The fence wood has died over the years and we find a tank of creosote in
the paddock. Miro begins the arduous task, saying in Slovak that it will take a
good year to finish the job.
It is November 17th , a
milestone for Slovakia as the twenty year anniversary of the fall of communism.
The sun slips out from behind puffy clouds and is welcome after weeks of drizzle
rain. I set out along Highway 501 to visit a good friend as I had not seen her
for several months. Trees are bare again but the big owls and hawks do not know
and sit amongst the branches watching and waiting for their next prey. Highway
501 meanders along the Male Karpaty mountains, hugging the lush mountain side
like a rushing brook. Quaint small villages poke their heads around sharp bends
from Myjava to Breznova, then Jablonica where I make the turn to Plavecky
Mikulas with its quaint church. The villagers are out, preparing for the day's
celebration. I forget and miss the main road's turn slipp into their rural life
for a brief moment. I know this route, but somehow I am distracted by the castle
ruins atop the hill. Now it is Rohoznik, then comes Kuchyna and another missed
turn. Why, I wonder, is it I feel a foreboding in the clear crisp autumn air. At
last it is Pernek, with its main turn to Lozorno and finally the village of my
My friend and her baby's father
are waiting for me in her new shop and before loading the car with my dog food,
we go into the adjacent restaurant for lunch. It has new owners now, and today
is their grand opening and we are their first customers. We decide on sharing a
My friend brings me up to date
on her latest adventures, her children, and her second shop she used to co-own
with her best friend but now owns outright. I learn about what other friends are
doing now, and between bites she says, "Your business will close next month".
I am a bit confused about this
announcement because it is still 18 months away before I can legally transfer my
school house out of my business and into my name. I manage to say" Oh, then
we must go to the lawyer and write up my will in case something happens to me".
" No need because I am the
owner of your house now. I will let you live in it for a while longer until it
is sold", she says between bites of the pizza. I am dumbstruck and look at
her with eyes wide open. How can this happening? How can she be so nonchalant
about this twist in our relationship, about my losing everything I own to her?
"What are you telling me?"
I ask. "You know it is my house and my life's savings in it. If my health
turns, I need to sell it so I can return to Vegas".
My friend smiles broadly as she
eats the last of the pizza. "No need to leave. You can live with me in my
new house we are going to build in Marianka. It is a wonderful village". A
sheet of silence forms between us as the moment works its way through my being.
I cannot feel, I cannot hear, I am lost in oblivion. She murmurs something to
her partner who sits across from us. He looks the other way.
Who is this person sitting next
to me? I know her not. Gone now is the warmth I have known these past years. She
sits there as if all is normal yet I know all is not. I am too aware now of my
inconsequence, of who I had been to her these past years. But then who had I
been? Was I Edith Bunker, Dorothy's scarecrow? Ah yes, I begin to understand. I
am the old fool on the hill and my friend's golden cash cow.
To be continued.....................