Home. Haven’t really settled in, even though we have been here for a year. Went to Paris last year. Did a couple of weeks here and there. I almost died following gall bladder surgery. We don’t have a routine and I have cruise pounds. Who do you call? Bicycle Doctor. They make house calls to repair and restore bikes. Our antique bikes, bought in Brooklyn and maintained, will outlive us. I want us both to live a while, a wish supported by Sharon and a select few. So, let’s get it on and take off some pounds.
I don’t shoot a lot of kids. Don’t have any and don’t have friends who do. That’s how you get the business, I suppose, unless you happen to be good at it. But I can shoot kids. I talk with them, even if they don’t know what I am saying. I don’t make noises, raise or lower my voice or contort my face. They look at me. I shoot.
This kid I found at a wedding rehearsal dinner. His mother, the groom’s mother’s sister, Julie, held the reflector. People hooted at him in the background, yelling smile and cheese and other stupid shit. I didn’t need any help. He’s a beauty.
In their faces are the beginnings of what they will look like. Even at early stages, they look like older versions of themselves. Their skin, so smooth and blemish free. Their consciences clear of scars left by battles for self-esteem. Their mother’s love them, too, hopefully forever.
Returning from a five-mile walk, I saw Keb’ Mo’ exiting the Mariott Couryard, next door to my home at Westlake. Told him I was a fan: own a Cd, listen on Pandora, saw him in Montreal with Bonny Raitt (cost a fortune and we sat in the upper stratosphere) and then again in Burlington (Row M, orchestra). He played the Flynn on Sunday to a packed house. Listening to him sing about life, love and individuality, made everyone happy.
I asked if he loved his wife as much as he said during riffs between songs. “She’s my whole life. Couldn’t live without her. Only married for seven years, but feel it has been much longer.” He’s as gloriously handsome in person as he is on the stage. Being away from her must be tough.
He rejected my offer to go upstairs to my studio for a portrait. Wondering if he rejected me, because I only had a point and shoot, I told him I was a photographer, after having been a lawyer for over thirty-years. He shared a story about a person he had me who had recently be granted tenure at some institution of learning: “… the guy will spend his whole life in a box and never get out to feel the world.” His comment was just like the themes of his songs, words with a steady blues beat that make you want to do more with who your are and what you have.
But, being me, as we parted, I had to offer constructive criticism. I suggested to him that bass player was great, but the drummer could have done more than just play rhythm.” “That’s the way we do it,” he said. “I like the blues, dude, but I am a jazz guy,”I said. “Drummers can do melody too.”
Virginia live at Birchwood, an assisted living and more facility in Burlington. Ken lives in town on his own, for how long nobody knows. They have been a couple for ten years. Without each other, they don’t have anyone.
They met at Bill’s Diner in Winooski. She waited tables; her husband table hopped. Had kids, none of whom have anything to do with her. Lost one in a car accident. Then she bartended. They lost contact for a lifetime and then found one another. She has social skills, not yet lost in her pressing dementia, and a powerful look and smile. Doesn’t keep time or space like the rest of us. Has trouble walking and talking. Only complaints revolved around the diet at the facility and that she cannot do what she used to do, like drive or live in a nice place by herself.
Not sure she felt the cameras presence, but her head turned and her expressions changed in tune to my directions. She expressed her love for her man over and over, in kind and loving tones. When shown his pictures in the back of the camera, the few I thought worthy, she said “that’s the man I love.”
He and I have discussed this shoot for three years. Just didn’t work out. He takes her from the facility for a few days, caring for her at his place. The people there call him when she has some problems. He worked for years carrying stuff, shaping up, inserting at the Free Press. Has a sweet disposition that covers up a ton of pain. His back disintegrated, resulting in major spinal surgery. He lost his ability to walk and talk, which he struggles to recover. Walks with a walker; has trouble lifting his arm; cannot stand for long periods or walk quickly.
He found her after a long hiatus. Not sure why they didn’t marry; probably some SS reason. Spiritually, they seem as one. When he finishes her sentences, it’s to keep her connected, not to show how he has taken over her mind, but to stay in contact. His love for her gives him reason to live.
The skies emptied. We searched for the JP. Bride and groom soaked. All assembled. Vows and a kiss.
Rained like hell. Moved inside the train station. Helped by Melinda Moulton’s support.
Not planned, but a cool place.
Not ones to step up to the bar, anymore, but ones who have accepted the responsibility of marriage.
Will you please show me that you are about to be married and in love. Cannot force these faces. They just happen!
Not a big weeding. But everyone who attended, cared. No ring. No reception. They had to leave quickly to sign up for a place to spend the night. Still homeless and hopeful.
You had a life to live forward to and then the guy dies. Wasn’t tough enough before him; now you got to move on alone. People keep records and tell stories. You got dignity and pain. Sometimes they cancel out, leaving you who knows where. But everyday you got to take your beauty into the street with your head hung high and smile.
And, sometimes, you have to maintain the mystery!
Meet Monsieur Pommes Frites Pommes de Terre Tete. I call him Frenchy. Here, armed with a martini and some champagne, he battles the lobsters which the Sharon and I will share for our celebratory anniverse dinner. He has fought the shelled creatures before, preparing them for boiling as a picador in the tercio de varas would prepare a bull, never losing a bout or overdoing his job. He leaves them worn out, but not so tired that they don’t fight back a little when the hit the water. His courage comes from a potatoes natural starchiness and chilled Chopin vodka, very dry, straight up.
But last night’s feast did not come without some prayer and hope for all who inhabitant the Gulf region affected by the oil catastrophe. I look at the pictures of the birds covered with oil, wondering where will they live. If it would make a difference, I would stand in the muck and wave a banner telling them to go back from whence they came. They cannot read of course and where would they go? I feel for the grass, plants, and insects, along with all the little sea creatures that feed us or each other. Nothing I can do for them, either. At least they have my thoughts.
How will anything living survive there? It won’t. And then what happens the next time a hurricane hits? What will the people do? Where will they go? They have already had one bout with the end of their lifestyle. Pretty Joblike, they must be.
Me. Feeling pretty powerless, I am, knowing those I thought were regulating the risk weren’t and those I thought could fix it can’t. VT could be next if VT Yankee fails. Have much the same feeling about who is in charge here, too, and whom they think will be responsible – Entergy, a LA corporation, I believe. Big oil, big energy, big banks, big insurance companies. Its them for them selves. Us? We be the cogs in their game. Maybe they will leave us some crumbs.
Enough. Had a reasonably terrific time at dinner, Sharon being the great date that she has always been. Watched my diet. Not too much butter on the lobster. Not too many tater tots. Some broccoli de rabe with garlic oil. Didn’t drink too much. Bollinger Special cuvee. Some wine from the club Sharon belongs to at a local store. Leonardo’s Vermont Ice with fresh fruit and generic chocolate cookies. We laughed until we cried about something; I cannot remember what. Listened to Monk and who knows who else. Would not have been anywhere else or wished for anything more, other than the safe future for all living things on the Gulf coastline.
This weekend we celebrate 30 years of love. Most honor their wedding day. We prefer to remember when the romance began. I usually tell people who want to know how long we have been married, “not long enough.” Why count the past when it comes to love? Only the future matters.
I said to Sharon when she reminded me of the date and duration that, “I hope we have 30 more.” “NO0000,” she shreiked. Not that she doesn’t love me; she just doesn’t want to age too much. Not a pretty sight, I agree, the two of us unable to reach from wheelchair to wheelchair for a grope or a handhold, a robot rolling us to to areas out of harms way in some drab facility, hopefully in front of a window with a view of the lake, eating liquid foods through a tube, fighting off colds and boredom. No more lobsters and champagne. No dope. No martinis. No movies, books, or art. No reading to one another. No giggles in the shower or erotica between the sheets. No humor or jazz.
I will take every day that I can with her, because who knows if there will be a tomorrow. Not that I fear the end of man, which would be alright. I fear losing her. No reason to be without her.
I have to say I love her more today than ever. Who knows the pitfalls of life and love with another until one has lived them. I said I would be with her through whatever the vows made me promise. She agreed to the same terms. I didn’t know what sickness or disasters awaited, though I knew I would face them. And I did. Not handling some as well as others. But I have to say I could not have done as well as I did without her.
What have I done for her? Not enough. I will keep loving her. What more can I do?