Friday, October 24, 2008
Once inside, I closed the Venetian blinds. Stephen turned on the table lamp next to the couch.
“Look for her address book,” said Nancy.
“Too late, her sister took it to call people about the funeral."
“Which is?” asked Stephen.
“Photo albums,” said Nancy. “Scrapbooks.” She directed Stephen to examine the books on the living room shelves. I moved to the kitchen where I examined the photos and memoranda mounted on the refrigerator. Nancy ran up to the second floor where I could hear her in the small bedroom, opening drawers.
"Hey, wasn't there a framed picture in here?" asked Stephen, standing in the doorway.
"By the couch, Abigail and another woman on a dock."
I looked around the room, dropping to my hands and knees to search beneath the sofa.
"Maybe Susan took it," said Stephen.
"I don't think so, unless she was back without me, which is possible."
He shrugged. "It'll probably turn up."
"It wasn't a very good picture, was it? There was a long shadow cutting down the middle. The guy who shot it, I guess."
"Maybe that's why she framed it. It's a picture of Ken."
"That's a great idea. They were probably having a secret affair and that's all she could show off."
"But who took it? There are plenty of other pictures around, so I don't think Susan, whenever she's been here, was packing up the photos. There are still albums and year books on the shelves.
We seemed to get the same idea at once. If the photograph was out in the open all this time, what else was in plain view?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The cemetery took a serious hit during the March tornado. Lots of graves had to be repaired, then the monuments and plantings and most had to be completed by professionals. In the last couple of months, regular volunteers with TreeAtlanta and Oakland's own, were able to help.
If you visit Atlanta on a pretty day and want some history, come to Oakland. The docents are knowledgeable and all the better dead are here or at Westview on the othe side of downtown.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I could say my life is changed because my ass is a little higher this October than it was back in March. I could say that because it's true and comes with it evidence of exercise and the spiritual archeological dig I'm on to find something in the mirror remotely familiar to the face and body I once admired.
I could say my life is changed because I know how competitive I am. Again. But that would not be as true as the next time I say it. Because the next time I say it, I'll have taken up tennis or another competitive sport. Or joined a theater group or participated in a contest. No change, but a shift in point of view. Something I once called angleslide.
I could say my life is changed because I belong to a community now. Not the inner circle, not a vocation, but in the door, a middle pew.
Just as a passion for art means, at last, showing up every day --- without hysteria --- simply because there's nothing else you'd rather be doing, changing your life means movement from one to another. Small change or large. Change is change.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Team Captain, Sheila sent the transfers for us to decorate our own white T-shirts (so much easier than having to choose one shirt everyone can wear, (and let this be a hint to brides choosing dresses for their attendants). I've completed several back to back weekend training walks over 17-19 miles and very regular b2b sessions below that. What I decided not to do was walk a full 20 until I was in St. Pete and walking the walk.
Last weekend, I walked a couple of 8 and 10 milers. Gosh, they were so easy, but I could easily remember the shank of the summer and how hard it was to get to 10, 13 and 15...my most difficult milestones.
Our team leader did a great job. We are all overtrained and looking forward to a great time. One woman has already finished her walk in Detroit with her niece, who is being treated for breast cancer, and her sister (who didn't train so well....) "It was like being on a cruise," she said. "Without the amenities."
I'm relieved that my fundraising is complete and I've gone over the minimum. I owe my friends and co-workers for making this happen. For the longest time, raising the money was the hardest part. Then, I was truly "challenged" (don't you hate that word?) with balancing my dormant competitiveness against the need to protect my feet and find my own pace. This took weeks to overcome and a lot of conversation, but it, too, is over and done with. And I have won. No, I'm not the fastest and I can't keep up with the 20, 30-somethings (or some of the 60-somethings) but I'm okay with it. I know I'm okay because it doesn't bother me anymore.
I used to dread the challenges of life. I even dreaded the opportunities. I anticipated nothing with pleasure and looked only to get through it and look back. I racked up memories the way alcoholics rack up empties. Consequently, I have many that are not quite real, not very deep and open to debate. But not this one.
The metaphor participating in the 3Day provides seems to go only so far, or so I thought when I realized that no matter how hard it was to get up at 6 to join a training walk, it was NOTHING to chemo or the anxiety of fighting the illness day in and day out. I'm right, of course. The comparison is just that and a pale pink one at that. Still, the lessons I've learned and the shifts I've experienced in point of view have certainly changed my life and will probably continue to do so in the next few weeks.
I can't wait til October 30 to meet my teammates and Oct 31 to attend Opening Day ceremonies, but after that, it's going to be one step at a time, one breath at a time and I will take in all the minutes of the days before me. And I will love every one.
Friday, October 10, 2008
“Now there’s a coincidence worth looking into,” said Stephen, setting down a plate of Christmas cookies. “Girl lives in one complex, then the other. When did he buy Arborgate?”
“I’m not sure. Judith never said it was sold when she hired me. It seemed to happen quickly. I’d been here a couple of weeks and all of us sudden we had an interested buyer. George, from Trust Company, brought him over one day. I thought it was his first visit, but maybe not. I was still trying to figure out what I was doing.”
“Of course, Arborgate’s been on the market for a year at least. Poor Mr. Invale went into foreclosure not long after he got sick.”
“And Judith started managing things for him last spring, I think,” said Stephen. “That’s when I started giving her the rent check. The bank came in around 4th of July and started refurbishing, put in the model and cleaned things up. Place has been going to hell ever since.”
"And now you're leaving," I whined.
"But first we're going to solve the mystery of who was with Abigail the day she died," said Nancy. "Her former landlord, or was he her lover?"
"Patty might be able to find that out when she goes through Abigail's file tonight."
"Or we could see what the townhouse has to say," said Nancy. "She's probably got something with his name on it."
"Maybe she kept a diary," I said. "Unfortunately, Tim's got the copy of her deadbolt. I watched him locking it."
"Oh, we exchanged keys weeks ago," said Nancy. "In fact, you should probably get mine while we're over there. I'm sure you don't want them floating around."
Thursday, October 9, 2008
“Yeah, I thought he was one of the founders.”
“Maybe not,” said Stephen.
“I’m sure they’re not all gay,” said Nancy. “Another slice?”
“Poor Judith,” I said. “I wonder if she knows.”
“I don’t think she misses much,” said Nancy. “Do you?”
“Not really, but we’ve all got our blind spots.” I was thinking of her and how it seemed to me that Stephen did not want to move to Seattle. Naturally, I wasn’t thinking of the things I didn't want to see. Poor Judith. What did it feel like for your husband to prefer a man? “It might be better than another woman,” I said aloud.
Stephen bent to pour more wine in my glass. “ Who knows?" he said. "I couldn’t figure out what Abigail saw in your new boss.”
“The guy buying this complex. Isn’t he your new boss?”
Now this was more than I could take in. Ken and Abigail?
“What are you saying?”
As I watched, Nancy and Stephen exchanged a long and significant look of the sort married couples exchange when one brings up a subject they have both agreed to bury. Stephen sighed.
“Stephen thinks he saw them together more than once,” said Nancy. “And I definitely heard them in the townhouse before Christmas. Right around the time Tim brought the car back.”
Monday, October 6, 2008
The door to Stephen and Nancy’s townhouse opened to reveal Nan with a wine glass in one hand and a bottle in the other.
“Are you coming over, or not?” she called. “The pizza’s getting cold.”
“On my way,” I said, turning to Judith, who was already following Nick, now coasting toward the pool. “See you guys in the morning.” Tim nodded at Nancy, swiveled his hips and headed toward his apartment, a sub-level unit impossible to rent. He had a wife in Mableton, where he’d presumably spent Christmas. Mrs. Tim was supposed to be living in the apartment, but hated the city and kept herself and their two children in the house she grew up in near Six Flags Over Georgia.
“He finally bring home Abigail’s car?” asked Nan, closing the door behind me. The aroma of a much better pizza than Patty and Ricky had eaten competed with the elusive fragrance of cardboard boxes and household cleaners. Trust Nancy to ensure her damage deposit. Theirs would be one less bathroom I’d have to clean next week.
“Said he picked it up from the mechanic.”
“Not today, he didn’t. I saw him driving it last week.”
“Both. He took it up on Monday and was driving it back on Wednesday. Well, he drove past, parked it, knocked on her door and then left without going in. Then he set off again.”
Wednesday. December 23.
“What time of day?”
“Sometime in the afternoon. I was packing and getting ready for Christmas at the same time, you know? I had a lot of calls from the office too. People saying goodbye and inviting us to parties.”
Their living room was a warehouse of boxes, taped, labeled and stacked along the living room wall.
We picked our way through it into the dining room where Nancy, an efficient mover, had created an oasis of sanity. Here, she had tucked a Victorian sofa picked up the Flea Market and reupholstered in red velvet and a coffee table from the Roosevelt administration. “Are you taking the sofa?” I asked.
“Oh, yes. It’s going in my new office.
"Rats. I could use a sofa. A bureau, too."
“Have you talked to Abigail’s sister about her stuff?” asked Nancy.
“Haven’t had a chance,” I said, accepting a glass of wine from Stephen.
“That living room is all rented,” he said. “But the upstairs looked all right.”
“Not that bedroom! Mirrored naugahyde.”
“At least she didn’t have a water bed.”
“Actually, I’m hoping Susan will sell me this little desk I think her husband picked out. It’s really cute, and I miss my antiques,” I said, thinking of the furniture I’d sold to fund my trip down here. “I miss having drawers.”
And I would miss these almost friends. They were, I realized, the only people near my age and education that I’d met since moving to Georgia and now they were leaving. I would have to make new friends who would, I couldn’t help thinking, leave as well. Or I would leave and that would be life.
“I saw a great neighborhood in Midtown the other day,” I said.
“We know some people there,” said Stephen, handing me a full glass. “You’d like it. It’s very eclectic. Lot’s of old ladies, gays, hookers, students. A real mix. It’s cheap, too.”
“Lot’s of creatives from McCann live there,” offered Nancy. “Are you thinking of leaving Arborgate?”
“No, I want to live here,” I said. “But I liked it and I liked Kevin.”
“Ooh, who’s Kevin?”
“Ex-husband,” said Stephen.
“Not quite, they weren’t actually divorced.”
“So now he’s a widower,” said Nancy. “Something more respectable about that.”
I laughed. Stephen snickered.
“He took me to a place called The Pleasant Peasant.”
“Now that I’ll miss,” said Nan. “It’s really gay, but it’s great.”
“What do you mean,? I asked.
“Gay,” she said. “Homosexual? The owners are gay.”
Mnnnn. I took another sip of wine and re-thought Christmas dinner. “I wonder if Kevin knows that.”
“He does if he lives in Midtown.”
Lately, I’ve been taking advantage of the respite between our long summers and reasonable but chilly winters to open every window and leave them open. After all, I’m up so high, there’s no danger of someone coming in. Or so I thought.
On the night in question, I entered, dumped my bag in the living room and headed through studio toward the kitchen with my box of leftover Fritti pizza when a fluttering of wings startled me as much as my entrance must have startled the pure white pigeon now poised on the kitchen counter and eying me nervously.
(NTS: never leave condo without clearing counter for possible photo op.)
And by the way, isn’t it nice to arrive at a point in life when curiosity outweighs fright? The first thing I grabbed was my camera.
I’ve given respite for birds that stun themselves on the plate glass windows and doors on the ground level, and once lost a parakeet named Weego to an insufficiently closed door and open window, but I’ve never been visited from on high, as it were.
I really wanted the bird to stick around, but despite posing for me quite patiently, it was clear it wanted out. The shot of it on the bookshelf is my last. I “shepherded” it, unhurt, to the now fully opened studio window where it stumbled out.
White pigeons, which are doves, represent peace, ascension and forgiveness. What a gift.