Saturday, November 6, 2010

Boston, Black Leather, and Cobalt Blue

A few months ago I entered a contest, the theme of which was A Moment In Time. I didn't win (or even place), but my entry follows. I used only the initial "J" in keeping with the anonymity required for the contest, but his name was Joel. I choose today to share it with you because tomorrow marks the seventh year since he went on to be with God. This is my small tribute to him.

Boston, Black Leather, and Cobalt Blue

I'm so glad it's finally cold. Without hesitation I reach for the jacket that is almost ten years old. It's black and leather and lined with a subtle animal print, if cheetah can be subtle. I can't zip it comfortably any more. The belt is too long. The jacket falls below the hip, which is definitely not the right length for today's fashion. But it is the one that keeps me warm with memories.

A popular quote by Cesare Pavese says, "We do not remember days. We remember moments." And truly it is the moments I remember.

I remember when he bought it for me in the month of September. J. and I had known each other only a few months, and we were browsing in a local department store. He called to me and said, "Sweetheart, do you like this?"
"Of course. What woman wouldn't love a black leather jacket?" "Try it on," he said.
"It's too expensive," I said, as he held it for me to slip my arms into.
"But you'll need it for our trip." He winked at me and I stood taller. No wonder I was sure he was the one.

 In October we took the trip to Boston. We shared a suitcase packed with the usual jeans and shirts and sweaters. He had told me about the historic Parker House, so I had surprised him by booking a room there. Established in 1855, writers such as Longfellow, Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne met there regularly, and it was frequented by politicians such as Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. Some of the famous people who worked in the restaurant were Ho Chi Minh as a baker, Malcom X as a busboy, and Emeril Lagasse as a chef. Every night when we returned from our jaunts in the city, we went to the Parker House lounge, sat by the fireplace, and ordered a glass of Harveys Bristol Cream. It is sherry that comes in a cobalt blue bottle, and warms the throat as you sip it slowly. Harveys Bristol Cream, a fireplace, and our black leather jackets . We felt like we could be a picture in a magazine.

He took me to Faneuil Hall and told me of its history. It was a market with stalls of food and shops and exhibits marking the city's past. The cobblestone streets were a challenge in my boots, so I changed in to my tennis shoes, and off we went to Boston Common. We watched a man in a business suit practicing Tai Chi. There were college students spread out over the lawn. Some were reading. Some played guitars. One couple was kissing while lying on a blue blanket. We took a walk by a pond where five white swans were gathered at the edge, wanting to be fed. A little girl came over and gave me bread to feed them. I tossed it piece by piece into the water, and I felt as young as she was. Her mother smiled at me, and they walked on.

J. told me about Filene's Basement, where every year there are lines of young women waiting for the annual wedding gown sale. Gowns originally priced for thousands of dollars begin at $249. When the doors open the women rush in (likened to The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona), grab as many dresses as they can, rush to a corner and start trying them on. In sixty seconds there are none left on the racks. Then it seems they trade among each other. He and I went inside and laughed as we tried to picture the mayhem the event would cause, and pitied the poor sales people on that day.

 We went to Durgin Park where the waitresses are famous for being rude and a bit outrageous, but Judy and Gina seemed to like us, and kept asking him when he was getting me a ring. It was the first time I had authentic Boston Baked Beans, and "real" clam chowder. We left there and went to a Christmas store, and he chose an ornament for our first Christmas tree. It was an open-mesh gold-colored heart, which still takes center stage on my Christmas tree each year. He might have paid for that heart, but he definitely had stolen mine.

Strolling through the city, we met a couple who were probably in their eighties, holding hands. They offered to take our picture. And we took theirs. They told us they hoped we would be as happy as they still were. And we knew that some day we, too, would be in our eighties, still holding hands, and saying those same words to others just like us.

He showed me the outdoor band shell where the Boston Pops sometimes played, and we laughed as the tourists rode by in a bright yellow Duck -- an amphibious mode of transportation known in Boston the way San Francisco is known for the cable car. We saw the pub where Cheers had been filmed, but the line to get in was long, and we passed it by. We took a walk along the Charles River and through prestigious Beacon Hill.

One day we decided to drive north to New Hampshire, and stopped on the side of the road in a particularly picturesque spot. We took a walk and discovered a stream of rushing water. He positioned me on a large rock to take my picture, and told me how beautiful I was. We came upon a covered bridge where he peeked around its edge, his eyes smiling while I told him it was his turn to have his picture taken. Leaves were amber and rust and burgundy, and crackled under foot. The sun was going down. But we were warm in our black leather jackets.

So this morning, though there are many items of newer styles and brighter colors hanging in my closet for the winter season, there is no doubt which one I'll choose. And tonight, when I get home, I'll open the cabinet and find the bottle of cobalt blue. I'll raise the glass to my dearest J., and slowly, quietly sip some of my warmest, precious memories. And I'll think of a fireplace, and bridges, and cobblestones, and swans.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely beautiful, Aunt Carol. :) I love it.