Last Friday was the condo building’s annual holiday party, the event that prompts me to take a shower, pull one of my dress-up outfits from the storage closet, and put on some makeup.
My outfit was a sparkly aubergine top worn with black skirted leggings and my grandmother’s garnet drop earrings and four-strand garnet necklace. I wore my fanciest headscarf, the one where the cloth is more shiny than matte.
We mingled, us people who rarely see one another in this building of 84 units. We had sharpied our nametags with the requisite information: name and unit number.
Newer residents sometimes trip over my unit number.
Eighty of the units have numbers that end in 00. But two units end with 01, and two with 02.
A woman and her husband purchased a unit but have not yet moved in, waiting until the remodeling is completed. She is wearing a crimson knit top and large gold jewelry. “What’s 02?” she asks, eyeing my name badge, holding her rocks glass toward me, glass heavy with ice and light with liquid.
“A half unit.” I explain. “They had trouble selling them when the building was first built, so they cut some in half.”
I gesture to the couple to her left. “Jim and Jo Ann have the other half. They live in the East tower but their office is in the West tower.”
“Do you have to share a bathroom?” the woman in red jokes, elbowing Jim’s arm.
A joke that was not a joke.
Maybe she was nervous about the party. Maybe the glass wasn’t her first. Jim and I talk on top of each other to correct her. “No,” I say, while Jim says, “We have two bathrooms in our unit.”
In another conversation with a different woman that I know better but not well, I asked about her holidays.
“It’s hard without the kids,” she answered, giving me a mom-to-mom look. “You know.”
“Yes,” I agreed, meaning something entirely different.
Once, at a store, when I was buying infant clothing for a friend’s daughter’s new baby, the woman behind me in line said, “Isn’t it wonderful being a grandmother!”
“Yes,” I replied, remembering my college days, when I first realized being a grandparent was a much better gig than being a parent. As my friend Teresa recently said about her granddaughter, “My only job is to love her.”
The grandmother comment happens occasionally. It used to make me feel bad, but not anymore.
Now, instead of thinking about what I lack, I think about what I had: a grandmother who adored me.
My grandma let me put my head in her lap as she ran her fingers through my curls for what felt like heavenly hours. We made koláče together and she let me drop the apricot or poppyseed filling into the little wells she pressed with her confident, floured thumbs.
I’m glad I got to experience being her granddaughter.
I’m glad she got to experience being my grandmother.
Her name was Laura.
PS: About those accent marks. I’m not sure what the accent over the ‘a’ does, but the accent over the ‘c’ is called a háček (pronounced “ha-check”). It turns ‘c’ into ‘ch’ and is why my name is pronounced “Koo-chair-a” rather than “Koo-ser-a.”
Concluding 2023, Planning 2024
No, no resolutions for me, no thank you, but YearCompass intrigues me. I’ll be working through it on my mini-vac, which I’m taking for the very purposes for which YearCompass was created. When I get back, I’ll show you where I went because the place looks cool.
Although I can’t yet vouch for YearCompass, my Ph.D. psychologist/ executive coach friend Laurie gave it a thumbs up. It’s free, patronage accepted.
Chewing the Cud of Good
Thankful for Khrystyna* saying yes.
*Khrystyna Lukashchuk is the Ukranian artist who illustrated Prince Tarkten and agreed to a repeat performance for The Rocking House.