Chinese New Year’s Diary – 2018
February 16, “The Year of the Dog”
Meetings between the Meetings
Emily Jo Donatello
(call me “Em”)
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Several of my zany friends have been encouraging me to keep this Diary going, even after its original inspiration, First Event, has expired. OK, I do enjoy trying to make some (written) sense of both my life and the life around me. It’s just that sometimes, being a procrastinator, I prefer to think and not act. Somewhat reluctantly I’m going to accede to the entreaties and carry on. Oh, I do carry on.
Speaking of procrastination, I intended to begin this entry on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but couldn’t keep my mind on it that day: a busy morning as Em; a midday as him; a catatonic evening after hearing of more murders of children in the “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”
How Free we are, How Brave!
I could not write of love and hope on a bloody Valentine’s Day. Instead I’m taking up keyboard again here on the first day of the Chinese New Year.
“Gung Hay Fat Choi.” In the Cantonese, spoken in many Chinese communities, “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.”
“Gong xi fa cai.” In the Mandarin, official language of China, “wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.”
This is to be the “Year of the Dog.” In the Chinese Zodiac “The Year of the Dog” highlights fierce loyalty.
Let me try that!
In the ten days since I returned from First Event, I’ve had two opportunities to delve within myself again, each enjoyable. The first came last Saturday, the scheduled day for the monthly meeting of my Pathways Support Group. Beforehand, one of my Pathways sisters, Joanne, who lives in the wilds of New York State, had emailed me asking if she could visit me at my apartment. She hoped I’d let her change to her best red dress – after a shopping trip into the malls of New Jersey..
Yes, certainly, I replied. I was excited to see her and to host, if only for an hour, a friend, and to be of fiercely loyal assistance. Being at the apartment can be a lonely time for me, despite its being a most necessary period in my life. Waiting for Joanne, I put together some cheese and crackers and uncorked a nice Pinot Grigio.
Joanne found the place (of course, with the help of her GPS). The weather Saturday was sloppy: rain, off and on all day. At the time of Joanne’s arrival the rain had diminished to a dull, cold drizzle. She arrived in jeans and her newly purchased pink sneakers, her pretty dress in a sack – along with two dresses she offered to me as gifts. How thoughtful, how kind! We had fun as I tried them on. Damn if one did not fit at all! Ah, but the other, an off the shoulder cocktail dress, fit beautifully. I’ll plan to wear it at the Keystone Conference in three weeks.
After an hour, we were both ready to brave the (now) torrents and surf our way north to the meeting in Teaneck. (The meeting was themed for Valentine’s Day.) Joanne was radiantly red.
Me, I was readily red in shameless stead.
As Joanne and I left the apartment for the meeting site, ordinarily half an hour away, the rain intensified, pellets upon our cars. We had intended to follow one another. Within moments we were separated by the untrustworthy traffic. Car phone to car phone, and we decide to make our own way, each. Despite briefly losing my way in the downpour, I arrived at the Church Hall, where our meetings occur, right on time. I like to be on time.
Wonderfully we had, even with all the rain, a large turnout for us, one of the biggest in my 18 months as a member. Better, we had two new members, Kaylee and Kristin, come for the first time and one former member, Linda, return after a very long absence. Both Linda and I teased one another about being at First Event for four days and not meeting there.
At the Pathways Support Group we struck up what I hope becomes a friendship. Linda’s such an energetic, imaginative person, and so very easy to befriend.
Several of the girls said they were going to Amanda’s, a TG friendly bar, after the meeting. I’ve been there several times and enjoyed the time. But I told my friends I’d pass on this rainy night. I preferred the safe driving angels guide me back to Montclair without benefit of additional spirits.
The next morning Cinderella returned to the dreary daily life of….whatever.
The following Tuesday I’d planned as an Em day, after a short morning family errand. That errand became complicated and enormously stressful, so much so that when I got to the apartment, I needed to slide into a reverie after a glass of wine. I didn’t emerge until too late in the evening for a transformation. Tomorrow morning, I decided; tomorrow, not procrastination but practicality, I argued to myself.
Please open the audio below in another window and listen while continuing to read:
In the morning of tomorrow, the earliness of Valentine’s Day I awoke with determination. Honestly I’d boxed myself into a corner, as I’d agreed by email the night before to meet my friend, Donna, for coffee in Montclair. As, fiercely loyal, I wouldn’t break a promise to a friend, I simply had to get ready and get out there! “Getting out there” is a theme for me, cajoled from my timidity by friends who tell me I should, no, must do it. Me, I worry, notably when I am to be alone. Yet this day I’d be meeting Donna (she in drab, as work for her followed immediately our coffee), so I truly had no excuse. Emboldened I decided to walk to the coffee shop, past however many people on the streets of Montclair. So small a chore, so big a step – for me.
And so I did. I’d chosen to wear the outfit of a career woman, who, after coffee with a friend, would be going to the office. In homage to the day, a deep red shell peeked out from my fitted black jacket.
Donna and I were to meet at 10 a.m. I arrived just on time, as I always strive to do. Donna was waiting, smiling, and offered me a single red rose as a Valentine’s Day gift. So very thoughtful; so very sweet of her to do that. I felt badly I’d not brought any little gift for her, so I treated her to a coffee, as a senior career woman would.
For 90 minutes we merrily chatted away. She’s a wonderful person, far bolder than I, I realized, as she recounted her most recent adventures. Several times, in amazement, I said, “I’d never do that!” Secretly I wished I had.
As the clock neared the appointed end to our time together, I asked Donna if she’d shoot a photo of me as I was at a prosaic coffee shop. I had no such photo among my personal albums. Fiercely loyal, she agreed.
Later I posted the photo to my Flickr page, along with a couple of others from Valentine’s Day. Much too foolish was I not to encourage the closeup; posted as a reminder to myself to be thankful for the little favors, like a friend as photographer, which mean a lot.
I was so pleased no one paid any attention to me. Yes, that was the very strong observation I made. Numerous people coming and going, sitting opposite us, throughout our time in the Coffee Shop. Not one paid any attention to me whatsoever. When I went to the ladies room to freshen my makeup for the photo, again nothing from anyone.
I was exhilarated.
I walked back to the apartment, head high.
Blend, baby, blend!
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