One Easter Sunday, on the steps of Saint Patricks' Cathedral, the charming photographer, Ari Seth Cohen of AdvancedStyle took my photograph and at sixty life began to unfold. I wrote him a letter of gratitude that turned into an homage to my mom. Ari graciously posted it to his social platforms. The response was overwhelming. The response, was the catalyst for all you see here. Sometimes a light shined upon you is all that is needed to see your own.
I went to the parade, I think, looking for my Mom. She is gone six years this week. An enduringly long blink of an eye. As a child, she would take me to see the finery. At that time, the Easter Parade was not the grandeur it is today. Simply people in their best. Not always bespoke or couture but always magical. My mom in her houndstooth coat and I in my Mary Janes. I returned to the city of my birth six months ago, leaving the only home I'd known for almost sixty years. Twenty-five of them caretaking for my parents. It was a blessing to do so. But in that, ones self image can be shadowed. I have spent the last six months wandering the city I love. Making Nike richer with every worn-through sneaker sole. Looking, I suppose, for my own soul.
What I have found is my mothers' voice. I believe these last six months have been guided by her. Crossing my path with a gaggle of "advanced" women. Some have remained friends and others simply whispered in my ear. In her life, I experienced an existence of head-in-the-clouds with my twinkly Mom. But it was not enough. She sends me now, women to help my well-shoed feet find the ground. To strengthen my image. My Mom once told me, Honey, when you look into the mirror, if you don't see a beautiful, kind, talented girl then what you need is a new mirror. So I have looked for that mirror literally and figuratively for the past six months, to no avail.
I am, however, fortunate to live in a doorman building whose inhabitants toss the loveliest of things. My first week there, there was a mirror I recognized. A coveted, chrome-trimmed full-length beauty from Ikea. And I asked Ruben, my Doorman, if I could have it. The reply was that it was already spoken for. But Dee, he said if I get another one I'll let you know. And six months passed. Ruben did come through but an aside first needs mentioning
Three weeks ago I was to meet a woman in the all-purpose room of my buildings' gym. I had never been there and as fate would have it my friend was detained. Curiosity drew me to the room alone. Turning a corner I was engulfed in floor to ceiling mirrors. The ballet room of my childhood. And I asked out loud Is this the mirror, Mommy? And in my imagined tutu I began to twirl. Like I did for her uncountable times. And I promised I would come down and look into this mirror every day. And I did not.
Two weeks later my Ruben reemerged. Do you still need a mirror, Dee? He asked one evening. Sure. I said, thinking he would come the next day. So. In a drawn bath, blue shampoo atop my grey hair, there is a knock at the door. Dee? It's Ruben. I have the mirror. Ruben, I say, I am in the bath. A pause. I have a key. He continued, just stay in the tub. We'll bring it in. WE? Rueben, I say, this is a lot of bonding but ok, come in. Much clamoring outside my loo-door. And Ruben says, I don't think it'll fit, Dee. Won't fit? I say. It's a mirror. I know my loo-door opens onto three-hundred and fifty luxurious square feet but its a MIRROR. Wait, wait, wait. Blue shampoo swirling down the drain, I put on a coat and step out. And there is dear Ruben with the largest mirror I have ever seen. Framed on all sides with six-inches of what looks like cherry. It now graces one-half of a wall. And every day I twirl in it. Every day I talk to the girl in the mirror. And if I do not believe that behemoth is a gift from my mom I am doomed.
Some force far greater than I has asked, perhaps challenged me, to finally take a look at the girl in the mirror. And at sixty, the girl in the mirror is exactly what my Mom saw. What I have only begun to see for myself. She is smart. She is funny. She is an artist. Her looks do not scare small children. She is kind. She is Dee. And I think she might just have something to say.