I was supposed to stay with Susan during my 70th birthday trip to New York. Well, I'd planned to stay in a hotel, but Susan wanted me to stay with her. That was really much better, a good idea even though my plan had been to see how tough I was and whether I could do it all myself. The last time I'd been to NY was with my big guy, three or four summers ago, before that relationship ended.
New York was my city, for eighteen years. I still consider myself a New Yorker, not having ever forgiven Boston for the disgusting display of racism during bussing when I first moved here in 1974. But New York has changed and so have I. And it was a bit daunting to make this trip.
I travel very little since my body is so cranky from fibromyalgia. If I sit too long, it gets angry. And if I carry heavy things, it gets angry. If I work at the computer, it gets angry. It absolutely hates the bus and loathed PeterPan all the way down, no leg room and uncomfortable seats. And I'd had a hard week, helping out a friend whose mother is very ill, going back and forth to deal with the cyst and taking antibiotics that produced stomach angst. So, I wasn't in the best of shape.
Because Susan wasn't able to have me at her condo, she asked her friend, Shelia, if I could stay there. Shelia (how do you spell her name?) makes friends just walking up the block, gives away many keys to her apartment and was willing to try me out. Susan bought a blow-up mattress and took me there on Friday night after I got off of the bus.
Shelia is easy. And nothing could have been better, barring the fact that I couldn't stay with Susan.
Lady, Shelia's golden retriever who seems more like a large refrigerator that moves from place to place, placidly, quietly, was rescued from a friend whose mother, in Mexico, died. Lady understood only Spanish, had never been on a leash, and lived in extreme luxury. Shelia's friend had found good homes for the servants, but couldn't find anyone to take the dog. When Shelia said that she was finished mourning for Chico, their former beloved dog, part Chow, part Pit Bull and something else that seems equally fierce, her friend flew to Mexico and brought an extremely frightened Lady back to New York.
Lucky Lady. Adored Lady. After having tried giving her the food that she was used to, and trying many other brands, Shelia now boils chicken for her, adds green beans to a bit of kibble and stirs it all up.
I don't know how Sly got adopted, but he follows her around as if he's a dog. It took him a couple of days before he'd allow me to photograph him, but on the last day, after I'd moved to a hotel, he allowed me to capture a few images. I'd stopped by her house on the way to the bus station, dragging my suitcase. I'd forgotten the bones that I wanted to take back to Boston so that I could make pinhole images of them. Why I got this hair brain idea is beyond me. But the bones, that Shelia had put on the shelf when Lady finished with them, were fascinating. Perhaps they remind me of "50 lbs. of clay," an installation piece. I'd never been at all interested in making anything that's beautiful, but for the last four years, I've been working with clay, amassing these impractical installations that I won't ever find a place to show. Anyway, I saw the bones. Photographing them with the digital point-and-shoot wasn't enough. They have to be pinhole images, I thought. Insanity.
Shelia said, "Don't take them all. Your suitcase will be too heavy to pull." I obeyed, though I wanted them all. The suitcase was very heavy to pull. But now I want her to send me a monthly supply of bones by mail. I'll send her postage money. I hope I make the pinhole photos.
And Shelia allowed herself to be part of my 2008-2009 self-portrait series. That was terrific, more terrific because Lady wanted to join us.