Last night, I sat with a group of homeless women and then a group of homeless men and asked them questions about being homeless that only they can answer, questions they don’t get asked very often because people are too busy helping them to ask them what they think. One of them was a 73-year old woman who had been living outside before she came into shelter. Another woman who had been on the streets a long time knew me from a long time ago when we worked in the same anti-poverty agency. The men told me they’d rather stay outside than in most shelters, not the one where we were talking. That shelter was the exception. All of it made me think in a new way.
I got in the pool today on the end with the diving well. There is a high-diving platform; looking up it seems as if someone standing on the highest platform could touch the rafters but I bet that’s a matter of perspective. If one was up there, the rafters would seem distant. So I got in the pool. The water was cold and very deep and, for a long minute, I wanted to go to the other end of the pool where I could put my feet on the bottom. Swim here, I said to myself. Don’t be old and afraid of deep water. Swim like you’re beautiful and fearless. And I did.
At the doctor’s office, I filled out a questionnaire. One question asked me if I’d felt depressed and hopeless in the past two weeks and I circled No but thought I was partly lying because I often feel depressed but never hopeless but saying that wasn’t an option. Another question asked how many drinks I had per week. It wasn’t multiple choice just a blank space where I was to write in the number so I wrote 5. What possessed me to write 5 I don’t know. It was like I would have a drink every day I went to work M-F. Later, the doctor looked up at me and said, “Last year, you said you had two drinks a day. Are you cutting back?” Yes. No. The real number seemed really large, something that would trigger something I didn’t want.
This morning, our beloved old dog, Minnie, seemed to re-injure her torn ACL. As she was lying motionless on her bed, I wondered if we were coming to the time when we would have to put her down. Oh, I’ve done this before, held a dog’s head in my lap while the vet gave first one shot and then another. Dogs I loved very much but not like this dog. It would break my heart in a thousand ways to end Minnie’s life. And then she got up and waddled to the back door, her legs bow-legged but working somehow. So this is something I don’t have to think about anymore today.
I made an extraordinary turkey tetrazzini tonight. This wasn’t from our Thanksgiving turkey; this was from the turkey breast roasted after that. So there was the turkey and mushrooms and onions and linquine. And white sauce with butter and flour and milk and Parmesan cheese. It was beautiful and delicious. Knowing how to make a perfect white sauce is a gift, truly it is. And it just came to me many years ago, this one, very slim, talent.