Thursday, June 20, 2013

Where DOES the Time (Life) Go?

       So this Grams (moi) walks over to her favorite sofa - an old 'crate-designed' piece, made by a company (This End Up) long-since defunct and re-covered once.  She had selected the material years before her own children were married but were in the 'grown-up' genre.  It depicts an abstract, friendly collage of jungle animals, done in a variety of primary shades, looking out at the human body parts that impress, relax with them.
       The initial family reviews were mixed to silent.  One bravely voiced thought just wondered why she had selected  such a, well, uh, child-like pictorial.  By way of response, she had asked the asker to name the members of the feral array.  "Mom, I know from tigers and zebras and elephants.  But, thanks for the science experience."  Chuckles all around.  She had just mused to no one in particular - well, maybe the zebra - "Some day, some one will want to 'call roll', as it were."
       There had really been no abstruse, connived rationale behind her choice at the time.  She liked it.  And today, in the same desultory fashion, she had begun this blog by selecting a photo from those taken by her or sent to her "Sky Drive" collection.  The selection had been stored in something called "The Family Room", a label that held NO meaning for her.  Moreover, she had no idea who had created the work and/or posted it to her collection.
       Roll call:  Of our three remaining children's families, only one consists of two parents, one big sister, one little brother and a dog.  That it appears to be drawn on a chalk board is meaningless, such is the power/variety of the endless collection of 'play things' found in and around our offspring homes.  So, I guess this is an 'all skate', as you know as much as I about our 'star visual'.  I'm going with a close-knit (hand-holding) happy (smiling faces) active (even dog is barking plus there appears to be an object of play at the end of the line) bunch that - as a group - is sending a message (Daddy holds the written evidence).
       Well, back atcha, Guys! (I promise, when I've discovered the entire story - senders, reason, content, etc, I'll share.  For now, I'm thrilled with the innocuity (is that a word?) of it.  The drawing, that is.  It conjures up nothing threatening, unhappy, mysterious or costly.  It IS.  And that works for me.  It's been a somewhat reflective twenty-four hours for me.  I'm alone - well, Bridie beagle is here - at our modest and, for this time of year, rather quiet cottage.  We are enjoying a brisk, Northeast wind on a sunny day.  The surf, as is its wont in late afternoon, is shiny white but rushing about a tad more frenetically than usual.
       I have been in sad-ish reverie since learning last evening that James Gandolfini has taken his last cruise on the Jersey Turnpike.  You may recall, I was raised in Brooklyn.  My mother's family is Italian.  Our 'extended' Italian family, although not extensive, was a vivid part of my childhood, a major player, perhaps in why I became a member of the diaspora of 'former New Yorkers' (former Brooklynites, more accurately)  I was not a 'Soprano' but knew them very well. 
       It is a credit to the talent and serious approach to his art that Mr. Gandolfini was able to bring so much material - people, ways of life, backgrounds, motives, values, tastes, smells, colors, places, clothing, "types" - so vividly to the consciousness of someone who had lived in tandem with the characters in the scripts from which Tony Soprano emerged.  Most importantly, along with the writers/creators, he is to be congratulated for not only including, but placing 'center stage' the private weaknesses, insecurities and fears of this giant in a world where giants ruled by force, bludgeoning the weak, the needless, the no-longer-useful.  If asked 'Why?', you might have heard, "Whatever."
       Early this morning, I passed a couple wheeling a young toddler
whose attention was riveted on our beagle.  I stopped.  We chatted as the boy rubbed compliant, silky, droopy ears.  Absent preliminaries and never having met, we began talking about Mr. Gandolfini.  They were from New York - not a typical find on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  In fact he hailed from Queens;  she from the Bronx.  They were Italian.  They, too, knew the Sopranos - in their own frame of reference.  We fell very easily, however, into OUR family backgrounds. 
       They, too, had been embroiled in their respective pasts since last night's evening news.  His family - from Sicily - came here in the early seventies.  Late arrivals, compared to me and his wife.  She and I were both second generation New Yorkers and had so many more stories, characters, experiences - as Americans and, from the previous generation, the determined 'will-bes' - than he.  Indeed, to some extent Papa still showed signs of the 'inchoate patriot' of this adopted, wonderful nation.  
       The forty-five minutes of shared (very willingly) history, accomplishment and dreams for the future for us and ours flew by but left an indelibly common, shared and nostalgic aftermath.  It surrounds me as I sit here, among my animals,  (all quiet, trying to peer at the developing story on the screen - except for Bridie,  napping, having 'been there, been that') trying to share this happening with you.
       It may have been very trying, indeed.  You may come away thinking nothing, or worse, "say what?".  Well, you needn't.  Say anything, that is. And recollection is certainly not a requisite, either.  Perhaps, just being in the present, doing 'your thing', wondering nothing is your best course.  DO remember with fondness and respect, Mr. Gandolfini.  He is a part of ALL of us.  He, in portraying a non-all-American, is firmly ingrained in the fabric of our American artistic culture.
       Like great artists who precede him - the author F. Scott Fitzgerald comes to mind - he was able to authentically convey, to re-create,  to capture, through the portrayal in a string of stories stitched together  - another time and place; to shed light on its participants.  Because remember, all the material differences of some things - between THEIR time and yours, between YOURS and that of your offspring - are timeless. 
       And if, in fact, there is a reason for everything we do/experience, then perhaps, I decided to insert a picture at the beginning of this outing, indeed, that particular picture - shrouded in mystery at the time - because I needed a tool, a means of communicating feelings meant to be shared.  Perhaps, I've simply reproduced what is written on the piece of paper 'the Daddy' is holding.  (A bit too "Kumbaya", you say?)  Maybe. 
       Maybe not.  But definitely, "Thank you, James Gandolfini.  Thanks for giving us your talent, for being a part of our dramatic culture."  As to providing the stimulus for recollection, reverie, re-living that/those precedent and hoping for those subsequent,  who's to say.  If you asked Tony Soprano "why?", you'd get, "Whatever."
Later, Lorane. . . .
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