By Ellie Levin, a member of Get Your Wordsworth
Friday, February 19, 2011, was a day to remember. As I strolled with a friend to an art opening at Teachers College the temperature out-of-doors was 66 degrees Fahrenheit. The full moon illuminated the bare trees casting their soft charcoal outlines on the sidewalk. We did not need to see more art. There was enough surrounding us. Still it was fun to join the celebratory young people talking about the art that was on the walls, drinking wine, and munching on miniature quiche, and Mid Eastern spinach triangles. I did not understand the meaning of most of the performance art, but I enjoyed watching the costumed players portray various emotional states of mind. Earlier in the day I had joined students on Low Library steps to gather the warm rays of afternoon light. I thought, as I shut my eyes against the sun beams, of another Friday a quarter of a century ago, when the weather had turned warm in late February or very early March, when an old beau from college days, had come to visit me. We walked out to Columbia University and bought frozen yogurt to eat on the steps of Low Memorial Library. Suddenly we both had the same idea; we could drive that very evening to my mother’s empty home in the Catskills, where we had first renewed our acquaintance. My mother was in Florida for the winter, leaving her car and the keys to her house with me. We waited briefly for the commuter traffic to die down before we started. We drove, following the Delaware River once we had crossed into New Jersey, to Port Jervis, where we stopped for very late dinner at Flo-Jean Restaurant on an old canal and lock. We ordered scallops.
We were happy in the house of many rooms that weekend, the weather not quite as warm as it was on Friday, but still lovely for road running. We tried to take a shortcut through a hemlock grove, in all its green glory and sharp fragrance, to the fish hatchery road, but the ground was too muddy and slippery. We had bought a few supplies in a small town grocery along the way: eggs, milk, potatoes and bread are all I remember. We added a few items from my mother’s summer canning. Blueberries predominated on the shelves of the food storage closet. Perhaps it was this fortuitous adventure that decided for us that our future should be together, although we did not articulate it at the time. I still had to face driving to New Jersey on Sunday to leave my friend at his home and then get back to New York City. I feared highway driving. I got home safely with relief mixed with joy and reviewed my plan book for Monday’s teaching challenges.
On this Friday, as I walked away from the art opening, the warmth of the day and early evening were fading. The weekend to follow would not be similar. I did not think of that, only that my friend, now, no longer among the living, would have loved this day, as I remembered that time long ago when we were still young enough to be in love with love and with each other. For an hour or two I had felt youthful as I conversed with the mostly student audience. They seemed to accept me as one of theirs, and I agreed to join the art workshop to be taught by a young artist I met that evening. By Saturday, the wind was ferocious and the temperature below freezing, but I got to the workshop to join in a wonderful afternoon of making art.
Elinor Levin is a retired teacher and mother of two sons. These days she enjoys swimming, walking, yoga, and Writing from Life Experience.