Tap Me Up, Scotty

Star Trek, future, Scotty

Paramount/Everett/Rex Features

I’m not an easy flyer, and I know many of you aren’t either.

So imagine this.

I’m on an airplane leaving the city of love to return to the city of champions, and incidentally, the city where 9/11 began.http://vimeo.com/40340913

I keep my head buried in my book, burying as well memories and misgivings, expectations and excitement on my upcoming re-location. But the fellow sitting next to me (I’m in the aisle, he’s in the window seat, with no one in between), in his early 40s, well-dressed with the requisite 2-day-old beard and unscuffed suede loafers, continually looks at his watch. Boston, city of champions

Over and over again. Continue reading

Mighty Woman

older woman, grandmother, mother, mother-daughterMy mom just celebrated an incredible birthday milestone. She never shares her age (and gets mad if either of her children do), so I’ll just mention that it rhymes with mighty.

Which is exactly what she is – a mighty woman.

Surprisingly, she and I get along, despite the fact that in many ways we’re polar opposites: she’s small, I’m tall; she’s feisty, I’m more precise; she takes no bull, I avoid bull(ies); she likes to party, I’m usually tardy, always reading a book.

But, somehow, we mix and match, always coming away during our time together with a mighty story.

Like the one that involves a cop, the Golden Gate Bridge, and a departure.

Mom and I are in the car driving toward the San Francisco Airport after one of her non-stop visits – both of us exhausted. But I’ve got a Barry Manilow tune playing (Mom’s favorite) and we’re humming along (“You know I can’t smile without you, I can’t laugh, and I can’t sing, I’m finding it hard to do anything…”) when a thunderous “Wrrrrrrrr, Wrrrrrrrrrr” causes us both to let out a yelp. Golden Gate Bridge, road trip

“What is that noise?” Mom asks, both of us peering ahead, the SF Bay sparkling on our left, the vast Pacific Ocean yawning wide on our right, traffic moving swiftly with us on the Bridge.

I glance in the rear view mirror and gasp.

“A motorcycle cop,” I sputter.

“Well why doesn’t he pass you?” Mom asks, turning up Barry.

“Um, because he’s motioning for me to move over!”

We both turn our heads backward and Mom exclaims, “Shit.” Then she takes the word away, “Don’t tell anyone I said that; I told your children I never use a swear word.”

“Shit,” I respond, “where am I supposed to stop?” On the Golden Gate Bridge, there are no slow lanes, much less empty lanes.

golden gate bridge, motorcycle cop“Turn off before the toll booth and stop,” a robotic voice emits thunderously from the black-helmeted, motorcycle-riding policeman.

What, they have speakers in their helmets now?

“I’m going to give him a piece of my mind,” Mom shrieks as my heart races in anxiety. “He scared us to death – you could have had an accident!”

“Mom, don’t say a word!” I order. As I pull over and we both watch a humongous scowling man get off his motorcycle, his dark police uniform filled with hard lumps of muscle, I repeat louder and slower: “D O  N O T  S A Y  A  W O R D.”

The giant strolls over, John-Wayne like, as I roll down my window. Out of his rock-like face a thin hard mouth opens enough to spit out: “License and registration.”

My tiny mom crawls her upper body across me and shouts out the window to the cop: “I hope you make this fast! I have a plane to catch!!”

If looks could squash someone into a big crushed blob, my mom and I would have been two dead bugs on the Bridge pavement at this point. “I don’t care about your airplane. This car was speeding at 51 miles per hour.”

Before I could exclaim, The speed limit is 45, please give me a break, the policeman turns and macho-strolls back to his motorcycle, glaring up at us every three seconds as if we’re high-risk flights.

Ten anxious minutes later (after which my right ear is numb from listening to my mom’s protestations, recriminations, and demonstrations against the “insensitive, incompetent, insignificant, and impotent bully”) the officer approaches us again, standing with legs wide and expression as serious as dirt.

Before I reopen my window for him, I turn to my mom and plead, “Not a word – pleeeeaaaase.”

He returns my driver’s license, hands me a ticket, and remonstrates, “Speeding is not tolerated on the Bridge. Slow down. When you leave here, go through the toll.”

I swallow my retort and start the car, hoping to get away before my angry passenger can do any more damage. But she opens her window and throws her head out, screaming, “The least you can do is give us a police escort to the airport! I can’t be late!”

Lord above, the mean man stops on his way back to his motorcycle, turning around toward us slow-mo like in a Sylvester Stallone action film.

I gun my car and leave him in the dust, praying, praying, he will not follow, lock us up, and throw away the key.

My mom, after some loud mutterings that I refuse to understand, starts to laugh.

All the way to the airport.

mothers and daughters

Celebrating a mighty birthday this week.

May we have many more mighty fine trips together, Mom. Next time, though, I’m using the window lock position.

More Love

When I think my heart is filled to the brim with love – for my man, my children, their spouses, my parents, my brother and his family, our friends – grandchildren arrive.

I wonder how more love happens. Somehow I don’t have to squeeze each one into an already full heart – they suddenly occupy a huge chunk of it with no one else kicked out.

opera in the alley, San Francsico, street opera, love

Street opera on a San Francisco alley.

Flash. My guy and I walk the city of San Francisco with our son and two of his boys, 3 and 1 ½. We watch the ice skaters in the middle of Union Square, eat vendor pretzels, pant up hills (with the boys sharing a stroller), listen to the opera singer standing in the alley, and then somehow end up in a men’s clothing store, one that my man has bought clothes from since our son was his sons’ age.

As we finger the cotton shirts and silk ties, the two shop owners, now in their 60s, exclaim, “three generations of one family!’ and I feel a burst of pride. I don’t why. I haven’t done anything.

The Hound, San Francisco, men's clothing store, family, love, grandchildrenThe 1-year-old runs around the store with his pudgy bow-legged stance, finding everything at one-foot-high level that is dangerous.

The 3-year-old just sits on the floor looking up at the four men talking about important topics, like football and the stock market.

Suddenly, out of the blue, he touches my guy’s leg. “PaPa,” he says. The men don’t hear him. My little grandson waits patiently.

“PaPa,” he says again, not any louder.

PaPa stops talking and looks down at his grandson.

“PaPa,” our little grandboy continues as if in the middle of his quiet bedroom. “I love you.”

The busy clothier store grows quiet…

…and see?

My heart bursts open wider, to let in even more love.

Getting PaPa's attention.

More love.

Tunnel Vision

Golden Gate Bridge, San FranciscoI make it through the six-hour flight from Boston to LA. I endure the two-hour wait at LAX, a sprawling compound of too many high-stressed, higher ego-ed people, and then the hour hop to SFO.

I hold my breath, remember to release it as we wait, and wait, and wait for our baggage, which finally rolls around the moving horseshoe 45 minutes after we’ve landed.

Our driver, as roly poly as a malt ball, leads us to his small sedan. I fall back in the car seat, my guy’s briefcase sitting like a rock between us as we speed away from the airport and toward the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County, and freedom from motion once our front door is reached.

But no, instead the car idles in stop and go, bumper-to-bumper malaise on 19th Avenue. On this beautiful Sunday afternoon, thousands and thousands of Bay Area lovers are traveling – somewhere – and are stuck instead on a concrete highway to nowhere.

San Francisco, 19th Avenue, Golden Gate Bridge, traffic

I look out the window at tiny duplexes, the commercial shops selling rubber tires and plastic flowers, the newly sprouted garden lots and dingy gas stations, and I think… uh oh.

A hundred yards from the MacArthur tunnel (the big dark hole we have to drive through to get nearer to the Golden Gate Bridge), I exclaim, loudly yet unintentionally, “Okay, I have to get OUT of here!!”

My guy’s startled glance helps me realize that I sound a bit – crazy? – and the eyes of the front-seat malt ball get rounder and bigger as he stares at me through his rearview mirror.

I open my window – car fumes, anyone? – and pray we don’t stop inside that tunnel. I could lose it – like an inmate too long in her cell. I could kick open the door and run away from the dark dangerous hole of a tunnel toward – what? Would there be light at the end of my tunnel? Or would there be…

MacArthur Tunnel, San Francisco, traffic, Golden Gate Bridge

Something is tapping my knee. Softly at first, then more insistently.

I open my eyes (not realizing they had been squeezed tightly shut) and reach for the item my guy is handing me. His cell phone? With a cord attached to it?

Oh, ear plugs.

Wordlessly, he motions for me to put the ear pieces on. I do, reluctantly. What bad news am I going to hear? The traffic report, for God’s sake?classical  music, music, driving, tunnel, claustrophobia

But no, I hear flute and cello, violin and piano, harmonizing the sounds of angels singing. The music wafts into my brain and my body and my heart. Sweet soulful sounds symbolizing life on the other side of the highways and small cars and tunnels. Life full of green grass, blue skies, puffy clouds, birds soaring, lovers hugging, children laughing. joy trumpeting.

The car stops. My guy reaches for his phone and turns off his app to KDFC, the classical station, because…




Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County

Humming Along

hummingbird, fly, nectar, soarI smell it. The sweetness.

I see it. The red food that pops out of the sea of green.

I soar toward it, flitting fast fast fast, my tiny wings as swift as the fairies, pushing me toward the prize.

I attack, in my sensual, feminine way, sucking up the nectar, feeling the juice course through my florescent-feathered body, feeling the strength return as I flitter away, flying into a blue paradise of air and clouds and tall sturdy branches.

But I don’t stop. I never stop. My kind can’t stop – we’re built to live in constancy, in motion that has no pause, no completion, because we’re always searching for the next red or orange or pink bud of desire.

The next driven drink of life.

San Francisco, hummingbird

Humming along with San Francisco in the background.