My Dad drove a convertible. Once he turned onto our crab tree lined lane, the volume of his Beethoven’s Fifth rattling everyone’s windows, a harbinger of his arrival sending us out to greet him. Top down, music soaring, he was beaming in the sunshine and wind, after a long day of doctoring. After dinner rides to the Dairy Queen, a pile of neighborhood kids squashing into his back seat, quarters held tight in our palms, eager for one of those delicious dipped cones. My hair whipping around my face yet seriously nothing felt better on a hot night than those rides in his red convertible. Every summer I find myself, windows down, radio up, driving a bit too fast for the curves ahead, thinking of his love of all things summer, chasing those carefree snippets of youth.
I am not sure exactly when I became so intrigued with myself as a subject worthy of significant investigation, but that fascination certainly goes way back. Long before the confessional style of my Nine Cent Girl blog emerged, in my fiction, pockets of memories or infatuations or revelations can be found. Like the story I have been working on since last November about Mrs. Hendrick. After being left by her husband of several decades for a younger woman she took wholeheartedly to the bottle, and the array of pills prescribed by her Doctor. But instead of making her the stereotypical victim of her sad circumstances, I thought, why not allow her choices to emerge as legit survival mechanism? Why not allow her some dignity in her decision to keep going, come what may, chin up, albeit tipsy? After all, isn’t that how I spent one too many nights during my COVID confinement? I met Mrs. Hendrick head-on in my imagination and fell hard for her.
“This is my mother’s room. I’ll leave you to it,” and like that the plainly dressed daughter moved down the hallway and closed her door leaving me to meet the grande dame solo.
I knocked with two small raps. A husky voice commanded a double “come in, come in” and with that I turned the brass knob and pushed my way into what might come my way.
Not just a bedroom, but a boudoir, all apricot and violet, silk and velvet, seating around a marble fireplace complete with fire, and in front of the double windows, she sat at her mahogany dressing table and gold lacquered mirror from which I watched her reflection apply black eyeliner with surgical precision. There was a half-filled martini glass at her elbow and a smoldering cigarette in a crowded ashtray. Her platinum hair was teased up high and gathered into a french twist, and even though her caftan was flowing and voluminous it did not hide her many curves but instead gave them even more dimension. Before she moved on to her second eye, she took a meaningful sip of her drink, a lingering puff of her cigarette and let her gaze drift up to mine. She motioned me closer.
Weekly last winter bottles toppled my recycling bin while her’s were discretely collected, but together, I imagined, she and I would soldier on through. I have yet to finish the novella for Mrs. Hendrick, but I do hope she makes it with her silks enhancing her every subtle move from boudoir to dining room to wherever she envisions, as I hope to survive beyond the next chapter headed my way clear across into a smoother horizon.
Perhaps fiction is always thinly veiled truths, as are my blog posts. Full disclosure, I am ultimately intrigued with the tangled strings between all the people I love, even between the casual encounters and the decades of an ever evolving me. What else matters?
Tonight I celebrate my mother’s would be 90th birthday. Yes, I know she’s gone, although a force like hers can’t be contained in a simple afterlife, right? Of course I’m sad not to have her physically with us, but wow, did we have spectacular fun these last many decades. Holidays and vacations and just spur of the minute plans that would always turn into something fabulous.