I went to a New York museum opening alone last night, not even properly dressed. I wandered the exhibit sipping a glass of overly-sweet white wine and nibbling on a breadstick wrapped in an oversized napkin. I was surely the only non-Jew in attendance.
Afterward, I sauntered to Central Park, sat on a rock facing the Harlem Meer and cried.
I also prayed.
I prayed for friends who are suffering through a miscarriage. I prayed for friends struggling with divorce. For friends my age with cancer; friends recovering from divorce *and* cancer.
As I finally got up to walk home, I passed a man shuffling along the path with a walker. I instantly felt compelled to talk to him.
“Hello, what’s your name?” I asked.
“Gerard,” he answered, with a smile. “I’m an angel.”
I sat down with Gerard on a park bench. We shared stories.
Gerard was born and raised in Brooklyn but now lives — assisted — in Harlem because he had a stroke. He’s been married twice. Both of his wives died. The most recent passed away five years ago. Gerard has a son my age from his first marriage, but they do not communicate.
Coincidentally, Gerard said he’s had a hard time talking to women because he’s still mourning the loss of his second wife. Yet he was happy to chat with me. Likewise, it was good to talk to the man. I have been lonely.
Loneliness can really get the better of you sometimes.
As we chatted, the thing that made me saddest (I think?) was Gerard telling me I would be a good mother. He said it a few times.
As much as I appreciate it, I’m tired of hearing that line. I cannot be something over which I have no control. There are a lot of things at which I am/would/could be good. I hope for those things, but cannot allow my life to revolve around them.
I may never be overly successful in my career. It’s always an uphill climb, mixed with euphoric highs, devastating lows and frustrating politics, but as long as I can continue supporting myself, I’m okay with that.
I may never marry again. I think I’m okay with that.
I may never be a mother. I have to be okay with that.
Gerard told me a great story about his involvement with the Brooklyn-turned-Los Angeles Dodgers and we agreed to be friends. We will meet in the park on Tuesdays, to chat. I’m going to teach him piano at his assisted living home, to help strengthen his right hand.
After an hour of conversation, the wind turned slightly colder. It whipped orange and yellow leaves in our direction. In the distance, flashes of lightning were accompanied by rolling thunder.
I asked Gerard if he really was an angel.
“Nah,” he grinned. “I was happy you wanted to talk to me. But I do live on the top floor of my building.”