I graduated from High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. on the day that American troops stormed the Normandy Beachhead, (D-Day) the beginning of the end of the “good” war. There were 500 kids in my graduating class, and only two of us – me and my best friend Carol – –who were exhorted to keep our mouths shut during the singing of our class song, reconfirming the well-known fact that both of us habitually sang off-key .
Don’t bother with the math. Suffice to say that many a year and many a lifetime have subsequently passed, but Carol and I have endured as good friends, singing our hearts out in private on the very few occasions when we get eye to eye contact, she, a resident of Connecticut and I a transplanted Floridian.
So when she called several months ago, insisting that is was time for me to visit in her newly downsized condo digs, I succumbed. The first thing she did was get tickets for the Emmy multi-awarded, “The Curious Incident of the Dog, etc. ..” the price of which was “curiously” close to a Porsche. But I didn’t want a Porsche.
And thus began “Emily’s Life Review” tour. Once “up there” I could not “not visit” the remains of my other life – people who contributed to what became the richness of my life, people with whom I shared important milestones and giggles. Carol’s house was my final and longest stop.
Planning the trip had some similarity to the planning of an army invasion, minus the big map and pointer and 4 star generals. Many of my personal 4 star generals, however, were quick to offer me updated intelligence. It went like this: “You’re crazy to attempt so many places,” “Renting a car? You don’t know how bad the traffic is. You will be stuck on throughways forever,” “One wrong turn and you’ll be lost. And you know how bad you are with the GPS.” “You’re too old to be traipsing alone all over the tri-state area.”
The bile rose in my stomach – and I am known to live and advocate in loud decibels for a stress-free life — but I soldiered on.
And a glorious “Nyeah Nyeah” to all of them. My plan worked seamlessly – from the cousin family wrap-up, to the nursery-school car pool reminiscences, to the years of exotic world travel in out of the way destinations with Billie, my best of all times travel friend, (a former next door neighbor,) and to Carol and our high school war-time days and young motherhood. Beaches and parks and community activities – all part of the deal. Manhattan streets and traffic and subways and frenzy — the cacophony of sounds and smells, the body shapes and misshapes, the whirring of unrelenting movement and flow of energy – and the numbing experience of the 9/11 memorial and museum – bringing it all – and in the midst of building cranes rising to the sky — to a meditative halt, a reality check, a somber reflection on humanity and the eternal struggle between good and evil – and a human artistic achievement worthy of its purpose.
I came home on an emotional high– despite the pain I felt which was ultimately diagnosed as bleeding ulcers. Me??? the mind/body proselytizer – -with ulcer pain ??? Excessive aspirin in my “pill” regimen – or allowing myself to be responsive to the negativity of the planning stage? Or a combination of both?
Now — I am breathing deeply, and exhaling slowly and counting down to a higher level of consciousness – having fulfilled my mission.