I began this blog post the very same way I step onto a scale: grimacing, hand covering my eyes.
It's the number I'm afraid of, of course.
In this case the date of the previous post.
So long ago. So far away.
And yet, so thematically linked to what I wish to write about tonight.
This post contains the granules of a great many posts that were thought or spoken or left unsaid over the past four months of Bungalow Babe radio silence.
Some of these stillborn posts were spoken in locker rooms or on buses or on phone calls or in emails or around the Shabbat Table or in shul.
Others were said to friends and sympathetic strangers met at Starbucks or Fairway or on line for the bathroom at a movie. Or to a random person on the #1 train or the flight to Tel Aviv who liked my Doc Martens or my fedora or my dress or my necklace.
It doesn't take a lot for me to open up.
Contained here are the seeds of a thousand posts or more during a season of transition; meshes of my heretofore undocumented months:
My end-of-December trip to Israel for SOBB's (Sister of Bungalow Babe) 50th Birthday and subsequent adventures in the Holy Land; the milestone of Middle Babe starting a job and moving out of the Urban Bungalow and into a place of her own; the intensity of Little Babe's college application process -- trips and applications submitted at deadline, his initial deferral at the college that won his heart, the nail-biting weeks after petitioning the administration, his eventual admission, our relief and celebration, the mind-blowing fact of my youngest going off to college; a new deeply intimate phase of friendship for HOBB and me, including trips -- an exquisitely romantic getaway to Cancun, Mexico, weekend travel to Durham, NC, relaxing Shabbat weekends and the usual whirlwind of parties; a trip to Boca Raton, Florida to visit my parents with SOBB; monologues and open mic and karaoke performances and swing dance and all kinds of joyous movement; drum lessons and building up the courage to show up with my sticks and play with the guys at Funkadelic Studio's Open Jam night; shows and movies and Sunday afternoons at museums and precious time with family and friends and epic Skype conversations with Big Babe in Berlin; and the reading of Anna Karenina (and several other books while I was reading it); and the intense but deeply satisfying experience of hosting my extended family for Passover, sleepovers and all; and visits to the gym and too much red wine and coffee and chocolate and work and mischief and the stuff of life and getting pissed about middle age weight gain and taking note of (but not action against) new lines in my face, and the joy of weddings and the shock of terrible, terrible tragedy and untimely death and the gift of ideas that create brushfires in my mind and causes that ignite my soul and songs that make me happy to be alive and not enough sleep and sweet passion at stolen moments.
And so much more.
Oh. I wrote a play during this time.
And then a second one, based on the first one, which will be performed in Manhattan this May.
I articulated a new focus of my work: performance.
And created several performance-based works.
Some of which I will be staging in the coming months.
I experienced -- more than once, more than twice, often, in fact -- ecstatic religious experience, a way in which to be fully Jewish, engaging my body, my spirit and my mind at Romemu. I have called myself a Romemoonie to HOBB who does not quite share this religious passion of mine, whose spiritual home is elsewhere.
For Passover, I had the extraordinary privilege of hosting my parents and brothers' family. I did not take for granted my ability to handle the strenuous preparations for the holiday, together with HOBB. I realized that I am lucky to understand the meaning behind the rituals of this nation-making festival.
Together with my table of intimate guests, I fulfilled the mitzvah of seeing myself as personally having been liberated from Egypt, a transformative journey I have undergone since early childhood.
With no apology to my children, I have embraced the arrival of the empty nest -- and with it, time to sink deeply into friendships, to explore my own passions and step far outside my comfort zone. Last month, a woman at a dinner party -- about ten years my senior -- asked how I felt about having had children "so early" when she had not. (The woman in question had actually given birth at the tail end of her fertility.)
I got the sense the woman wished to hear bleats of regret...."if only I had waited!"... but it took everything in me not to gloat.
My children's respective childhoods were magical realms in which I played king and queen, wizard and court jester and princess and dragon-slayer. Yes, I sunk deeply and happily into the role of mom at an age deemed "early" by the standards of Manhattan's Upper West Side and I wouldn't have traded my adventures for anything.
Man, did we have fun, me and my brood, whose respective births spanned eleven years! There was the luxury of time... as I was young. There was a lack of parental neurosis...as I was young. There was the ability to breastfeed and stay up nights and work throughout my children's childhoods...as I was young.
From the MTV-watching 23-year-old freelance journalist I was when Big Babe was born to the 27-year-old columnist and writer I was when Middle Babe was born to the 34-year-old full time public relations professional I was at the time of Little Babe's arrival to the 52-year-old writer, performer and promoter of cool causes that I am today, it's been a high-speed ride, sometimes by the seat of my pants.
I improvised a lot.
I operated from intuition.
Yes, I became a mother when I was young -- too young to be cranky. Or a diva. Or bitter. Or pissy.
I was fully immersed in the marvelous mash-up of my life, starring in a great piece of performance art: the raising of my three remarkable kids.
Emerging into the spring time of Little Babe's senior year of High School, the full impact of this transition is upon me. Big Babe and Middle Babe are in graduate school and Little Babe heads off to college at the end of August.
All three of the Babes have significant others in their lives.
I am awed at the arrival of this moment.
Shehechiyanu, v'kiyamanu, v'higianu la'zman ha-zeh.*
This summary was written in a rush because it was lived in a rush of great chaos and joy and laughter and sometimes anger. It was written by moonlight as my days are full unto bursting. There was frustration and sadness at the discovery of an internal wound -- a physical deformity, my twisted spine.
But there was mostly wonder and laughter and tremendous gratitude for the blessing of being awake to the gift tucked inside the struggle and the push-back of life and challenging circumstance.
"I don't know why, but I have often have to fight for what is important to me," I told HOBB today, as we walked down Broadway, bound for the Museum of Modern Art. The midday sun was high overhead. It was almost possible to believe that the brisk day had suddenly become spring-like. "It has turned me into a warrior," I said.
My last post, four months ago, was about recognizing myself as a Picasso Woman -- a physical description with deep metaphorical meaning. I thought about my revelation as I stood, earlier today, in front of Picabia's La Source, an homage to Picasso's rose period at the Inventing Abstraction exhibition at MOMA. In the planes of the giant canvas I saw myself moving and bending, dancing into and away from a definition of what it means to be whole.
La Source seemed to me like a huge field for the game of midlife Hide 'n Seek. Pondering the painting, I sought myself therein. I hid from myself. I discovered myself.
I laid claim to the abstraction I had invented for myself, the identity of Picasso Woman.
I owned it again.
This post, containing a thousand posts, is about the winter of this woman whom I first came to fully inhabit at autumn's end.
Picasso Woman's first season was like a great opening at an art museum: filled with dazzle and people and food and laughter and wine. And oohs and ahhs. And sparkling reviews.
Gathering courage, she/I remove our hand and look at the number we were afraid to see and realize it is not shameful. December 19, 2012. Perhaps it was important to preserve that particular post, to ponder it and plumb its manifold meanings.
In a rush of sun-warmed inspiration, beyond the boundary of midnight, I reflect back to the beginning of this long and arduous New York City winter, recalling the very moment I felt the sharp pain in my back...and knew that it was the source of a realization that would change my life.
*The blessing one recites at having arrived at a momentous occasion.