connective tissue

I live in the same county in which I was born.  My back yard, in this house, what I fondly call my “last house,” is 1000 feet from the field and woods and marshes surrounding my “first grown up” house where my daughter played and found adventure as a little girl. We have a small barrier island near here across the bay where my mother’s great-grandfather settled in the late 1800’s and on which she and all of her siblings were born in the late 1930’s and early 40’s.  The same island where my father’s parents vacationed and had a summer home in the 50’s and 60’s .  This island is where my father worked his whole life as a carpenter and where I have been employed since I was 14.  This island is about a ten mile drive from where we all live now.  We have not traveled very far from where we started.  When I was young I used to dream about getting away from here, this place that is sometimes a cultural void, and imagined living in a city or a bustling artsy town, filled with fantastic diversity and magnificent restaurants and unique shopping, but here is where I’ve stayed, despite the few chances to be elsewhere…

I went to a small art show on Saturday that made me feel connected to “here” in a way that was oddly comforting.  When I walked into the space the first person I saw was a woman who I worked with on that island more than 25 years ago.  She sold real estate and worked at the same gallery I did during her slow times of the year.  She also happened to go to school with my mother 25 years before that and she currently owns the only health food store in our area, where I suspect every one of us in that room at that moment, has shopped.  She was speaking to a man who I now work part-time for in the winter who owns a publishing company in our area and who I met more than 29 years ago at that same gallery on that island where we sold his calendars which feature photos of the Jersey shore.  They were standing in front of the woman who was the host of the art show and in whose space the event was held, a woman I had not seen for more than 39 years; you see, when I was a little girl and learning “Hop-Shuffle-Tap-Flap-Ball Change” at the dancing school a mile from my house, where I took lessons for a couple of hours a week for all the years of my youth, she was doing the “time step” from 42nd Street and “shuffling off to Buffalo” with the girls I so looked up to and admired, the teenagers who were called The Starlets, and the dancing school was owned by a woman who had been a Radio City Rockette and with whom my mother went to high school.  This thin and fit woman with the sexiest silver hair and super cool sea-glass necklaces around her neck happens to be married to a man who I see at least twice a year, and sometimes more, who owns a canvas shop on the island where I take my customer’s boat cushions and covers to be sewn and repaired every season, a man who also grew up on the island and who knows both of my  parents.  I then chatted briefly with a woman who is a local writer and artist who I have been friends with on Facebook for more than five years but who I never had met, who dates a man who is the ex-husband of a woman I also worked with at a gift shop on the island almost a decade ago.  Her booth of framed drawings and watercolors was beside a booth where my part-time-boss’s wife was sitting with her fun and funky upcycled objects for sale, one of which I HAD to have, and for which I specifically went to this Artisans’ Festivus Market.  Her table was across the room from a woman who is both an extraordinary seamstress, who owns a store on the island where she sells her handmade bathing suits, and also a potter who does beautifully glazed functional stoneware.  I met her years ago, when I briefly dated a man who turned out to be ‘oh so wrong’ for me, but through whom I met a lot of cool people, and she happens to live on the same street where my former boss once lived, the woman who owned the gallery where I worked, off and on for more than 25 years and her sister-in-law is a woman I was friends with in high school…

And the seasons they go round and round,  And the painted ponies go up and down,  We’re captive on the carousel of time.  We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came,  And go round and round and round in the circle game…”

AND there I stood, feeling so connected to so many people in such a small space…this strange feeling washed over me, how just a few threads join us all in this splendid tapestry…and I was walking beside  the man I love, who I met only 1,619 days ago, but who went to my high school at the same time I did, the same high school where my mother went three decades before us, and with whom I share so many mutual friends and acquaintences…and yet we never had met, never had even known the other existed.  He often says to me, “how could you not have known me, I had long hair and was the drummer in a really cool band?!”  and I respond, “well how did you not know me, I was the captain of the cheerleaders and was tall and thin with big boobs?!”   We laugh a lot about it, how we were so near each other so many times but never met.  We probably were just feet away from each other playing Pac-Man at the arcade on the island when we were 13 and 14, we were probably just feet away from each other near lockers in a hallway when we were 15 and 16, we were probably at some of the same parties or events and no one ever thought to introduce us, and yet here we are now, 49 &50 making a life together, joining his daughter and my granddaughters, perhaps creating a friendship that might last throughout their lives, mixing his martini glasses with my high-ball glasses, his vegetable peeler with my Oneida flatware…I think it’s sometimes these little connections, these tiny bits of glue that join us and create the strongest adhesive.



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