Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Crossing Borders

Ninety dollars. For that amount, we'd be allowed to keep the kids, get back in the car and drive away. But it had to be cash, no checks and no charge cards.
"How do I know these are your children? Do you have their birth certificates?"  The border patrol officer was clearly irritated by something.
"Birth certificates," I thought, "Who goes on a family outing with their kids' birth certificates?" The tears were just below the surface.
"Oh, let them go," the other officer said.
"This is my case!"
And it all started with that one parking ticket in Astoria, Queens.
We'd paid the ticket but there was a $7 surcharge that we didn't know about. Obviously, we wouldn't have paid a $50 ticket and purposely tried to get away without paying that small surcharge.  But that ended up resulting in a warrant for Nick's arrest, which we didn't find out about until he was pulled over by a state trooper for speeding. The officer told us about the warrant and confiscated Nick's license. He questioned us briefly and seemed satisfied with our answers. He was kind enough to allow Nick to remain with us, though I had to promise to do all the driving, which of course, I did.
So we continued to our destination—my brother Bob's house in Henrietta, NY. The next day, I don't remember why we went without my brother and his family, Nick and I decided to take the kids for the one hour drive to Niagara Falls, and we'd heard that the Canadian side was more scenic, so that is where we went. Mind you this the early 1990s and pre-911. The Canadian border was a simple pass-through and we were all still feeling blissfully safe.
On the way back over to the U.S. side, as we approached the border, Nick looked at me and said, "I don't have my green card. I left it at home."  He wasn't a citizen yet.  He just hadn't gotten around to it.  Life kept getting in the way.  But I didn't panic until I realized he had no identification at all. The state trooper had confiscated his driver's license.  
I drove to the end of one of the long lines at the New York border. By the time it was my turn to drive through the patrol area, I was ready to hyperventilate and I felt like my forehead had the word "guilty" written across it.  The officer asked Nick for identification, heard his thick accent and then directed us to park over and go into the immigration office.
They looked up the information Nick provided: how and when he had immigrated and gotten his green card. They saw that his story held up against the records they had. But my tears flooded the room and added to the drama when the one officer declared that she would have to take the children. She seemed satisfied with my reaction and told us that she believed that those were our children but we needed to pay the processing fee of ninety dollars, in cash.  
"Can we write a check?" That was before debit cards and money was not accessible on weekends after the banks closed.
"How about a credit card?"
So, Nick counted it out into her palm. No receipt. Just fear. And then we got into the car and high-tailed it.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Missing Person

The last time I saw her, I was seventeen.  It was the summer of 1976.  She had hitchhiked to East Hampton with a spiral notebook tucked under her arm.  Hitchhiking is a risky and dangerous business but she didn't understand that back then.  Everyone was doing it.

When she got to Main Street, she bought a book in a bookstore, walked to the pond in the middle of town, sat under a tree and began to read.  After a little while, she got bored, she pulled out the spiral notebook and began to write.  Her notebook was full.  She was going to be a writer and write for the rest of her life.  But seventeen-year-olds don't know anything.  They think life will stay the same forever. Time is a trusted friend.

I can't tell you what happened after that; I'm really not quite sure.  I heard that she took one ride too many and one of those friendly drivers murdered her, cut her up into small pieces and buried her around in different locations. It must have been true because she disappeared without a trace.

Until the mid 80s.

I saw her briefly, in the woods.  I was sitting on a bus driving from the University parking lot to the
main campus.  It was springtime and I was kind of daydreaming out the window as the bus passed a lovely patch of daffodils that surrounded a sculpture of a swing, the chains and the seat somehow suspended in air as if someone had just jumped off of it.  "How creative," I'd thought. And FLASH! There she was, in the woods behind the sculpture.

It was her.  I'm sure of it.  But how could it be?  She was supposed to be dead.  People don't rise from the dead like that.  It made no sense!

I thought I saw her a few more time, after that. I'd be walking along, engrossed in my own thoughts and then I'd see her, just the slightest glimpse of her, or so I thought.  I called out to her a few times but she never responded. It was kind of embarrassing.  Maybe it was someone who looked like her.  And then just like that, she was gone again and I didn't think of her for many years.

But then, without warning,  she visited me last summer.  There she was, alive and well!  It was right after my mother-in-law passed away.  I was sitting on the balcony, writing.  I glanced over at the balcony door and there she was--looking right at me!  We could see each other clearly.  I embraced her and told her how glad I was to see her back again.  It's a wonderful feeling to reunite with someone you love after having been separated for so long.  I'll never let her go.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Future is in Your Bones

Grandma had a way of saying certain things that made you stop and furrow your brow for a second or two.  Like whenever she saw a black crow she'd say, "Well--someone's going to die." Which of course, someone always did .  .  .  because that's how life goes. Especially at her age.
Grandma: Anne Delisle
She also knew when it was going to rain. She felt it in her bones.  Her weather predictions were more often correct than were those of the local weather reporter. But the idea of predictions based on bones is not such a new concept and I know you're thinking you've heard that one before.

But here's one I'm betting you've never heard. Your future can be predicted in the bones of the meat you just ate.

Sorry vegetarians--no predictions for you.

That's my brother-in-law, Alex, to the right. He's the cook, self-appointed because he loves food as much as I do and he's able to take that grass-fed, free-range, organic goat and make it tasty. But more importantly, as the cook, he is responsible for getting that meat so it easily falls from the bone.

And in that bone lies one's future.

So, first the meat needs to be completely scraped off.

Then the reading can take place.

My father-in-law, Toma, is an expert at reading bones.  At least that's what he claims.

His sight is not the greatest.  But don't worry.

By holding it up to the light, all is clear.

Personally, I prefer cafetzu. Reading one's future in coffee grounds is more reliable.

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