- Kaleidoscope photos by David Levy
There's the ebb and flow of happiness and tears here. Lots and lots of both. And there's also a neat little surprise.
First, the happiness. My grown son is home with me here, up from Brooklyn, now for over nearly a month. He smartly, and poignantly, rang me up and said, "I think I want out of here" and out he went, leaving a new apartment and a posse of partners in his music collective with whom he works. He grew up here, in Woodstock, and had been enjoying a robust life (almost ridiculously so) and successful (yes! as we say in Yiddish, I am kvelling!) as a working, self-supporting music producer. Now he's holed up here in Mount Tremper with me, a few miles away from his childhood home which I sold last summer in a downsizing move, so what serves as my guest bedroom (read: not his childhood bedroom) is now his headquarters. He's working from here, joining me for walks and meals (so many meals...we're going to explode) and cuddles with the dog and movie night when he wants to indulge me and puzzles and the rest of it. We are good "roommates"—we've done this before, this dance of two people living separately but together. We are well-matched and he hasn't whined once from boredom, at least, not out loud to me. I'm a great cook, and he's a champion sleeper, keeping late-night hours as he works with a writing partner in LA—by the time he's arisen after noon, I've got at least two or three meals or snacks percolating along here in my kitchen...which brings me to the sadness.
So...next up: The tears. I stand here, in my kitchen, a kitchen that I designed down to the last detail with my partner who is not quarantined with me. We're separated, and depending on what time of day it is, that means any number of things, most of them tear- or anger-inducing and I think I've cycled through enough personalities on this to rival a remake of the 1970's psycho-docu-drama Sybil. While many of my friends are holed up with their beloveds, grousing about too much time under one roof, mock- or not-so-mock fighting about who's doing what chores and are-you-washing-your-hands-enough and "What do you mean, you're going for a walk without me?" squabbles (along with the companion piece to that, titled, "Thank God she's/he's/they're going for a walk without me; finally some peace!"), I'm jealous of those mini-fights, jealous of how they need to work it out before they collapse into their beds at night, jealous of tender moments of comfort, jealous of meals cooked together. This kitchen in my new house is where so many beautiful moments with my partner took place; I am a ship without a charted course, standing here, stirring pots on the stove or pulling trays out of the oven, thinking, thinking, thinking, and boy, those tears keep coming. When will I be cried out?
And the surprise? My front porch. My slanted, sloping, definitely-in-need-of-a-paint-job front porch. It spans the entirety of my still newish small and cozy home, yet it's large enough that four people can gather here, safely separated by the mandated and dreaded 6+ feet of space—usually my son and I on one side, and one or two pals on the other side. Oh, this adorable covered porch! Who knew you'd be our paradise? We sit outside, wrapped in blankets when it snows (in April) and barefoot, listening to birds when it's been spring-like and dare I say, normal? My guests bring their own glasses, beverages, snacks. Everyone pees outside around the back. We laugh; we wave to neighbors walking by or cars that slow and honk. Sometimes I sit out there alone and those tears come. Sometimes I sit outside with my son and we laugh at the dog's ridiculous antics (no one is enjoying this pandemic like our lazy, spoiled little dog). Porch as panacea. Sometimes we try to figure out what day it is. The other day, a friend and I were positive it was Wednesday, as we sipped wine.
It was Thursday.
Abbe Aronson is a publicist and hopeless romantic.