• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Ain’t These Tears in These Eyes Telling You



My mother gave me a four inch thick packet of aerograms tied with a ratty shoelace. They were all written by me when I was in London during a junior year abroad. I have no recollection of writing a single letter let alone this cache. My mother says she has read them all and she was “near tears.” Near tears for my mother is sobbing uncontrollably for most people. I read one letter and was sobbing uncontrollably. It was a pale blue window into a very unhappy girl pretending to be a happy girl.

Who were you?

14 Responses

  1. Same. Only I didn’t get to go to London.

  2. I was an unhappy girl.

  3. I was the seven year old boy who overheard the woman whisper something to her friend. I wasn’t old enough to understand what she meant. But, it was always there; deep within. I knew.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. I was either elated or miserable. My escape was writing, and I generated a lot of letters. I recorded my true feelings in a journal, so I know how I actually felt. But when I inherit letters I wrote to people who are not longer on the planet, or from friends who kept them, they paint a much rosier portrait.

  5. I was a boy so starved for affection, so frightened, so mistrustful, and so lonely, I was making choices that would mark, haunt, cripple, and enrich my life — never to become what it sometimes appeared I could have been, I was never to escape being who I am.

  6. A happy girl not realizing the bad stuff was on its way.

  7. I was a misfit, someone who didn’t understand the world around them; a strange little girl who used reading and the written word to escape. I was forever in trouble because of it. I didn’t understand that either. And now? I still don’t understand the world around me, and I’m still using words to escape. We are who we are.

  8. Positive, shy, optimistic, proud, studious. Forever on the cusp or the peripheral, but never able to see beyond the beyond. Not enough chutzpah to realize the potentiality that begged to blossom. And so, life happened.

  9. A late bloomer. Or so I was told. The petals of that late blooming flower now look like they’ve been pressed and dried between the pages of a life’s story.

    The only difference between now and then? Nothing matters as much as it did back then.

  10. I was a spunky kid always planning my escape from whack job, over controlling parents. They pushed me into science; I escaped into art. I literally wrote my way to understanding, then burned all those journals to avoid uncontrollable sobbing down the road. A good call.

  11. Wandering, traveling the highways and byways, baggie of pot in my sock, strike anywhere matches in a waterproof container and a pipe tucked away at the bottom of my pack where The Man would never find it but the super sniffer dogs detected with ease. Pulled over in Wisconsin riding with a friend in ’62 Benz when the plainsclothesman saw us pass a beer bottle back and forth — quart bottle of Old Timers (35 cents) — but it wasn’t until he smelled the pot smoke that he pulled the gun. Lucky that time, although he made us feel like shit, scared, helpless and angry AND we had to dump out the beer in the cornfield AND he rolled up the confiscated bag and put it in his pocket and told us to smoke in the field, not on the road. He didn’t find the other baggies. Or the peyote. Or the acid. In Elk Mountain, Wyoming I wasn’t as lucky, but the judge was a kindly little old lady with a jail cell in her living room, so I guess as far as incarceration goes, it could have been worse. She was a good cook, I could see the TV and I had plenty of time to read the Bible. She liked that.
    No matter how I tried, I couldn’t lose myself. A warlock in the desert – maybe it was Mescalito – told me to stop whining about the unfairness of my life and do something, but I didn’t listen and instead traveled to Nepal with barely any money, but it didn’t matter there, a bag of weed purchased from a kid on the Annapurna circuit for about the same price as the Old Timer beer. Months later I was high in the Rif Mountains of Morocco at sunset when I nearly fell off a cliff in the middle of nowhere after ignoring a Berber’s warnings not to continue on the route I was on; I saw his wife or daughter unveiled and thought his words were threats not warnings, so I ran and luckily the branch I held while dangling in the air was a sturdy one. I could see the lights of Chechouen (sp?) and somehow made it back to town.
    Recently a friend gave me a postcard I had sent out in those days. On that little card were even more tiny words than here.

  12. I wandered through the city where I lived, looking through lit windows. Then I went home and wrote. Lonely, proud, awkward, smart, bored when I was not writing. (I’m still awkward and bored when not writing, but I’m less lonely now, thank Christ. This is in part because of you awesome people.)

  13. So beautiful.

    Barbara Barkin Sent from my iPhone


  14. If only I could have told my lonely self that the life I would experience would reach far beyond that which I never dared to dream. Perhaps I would have smiled more during the moments alone when I thought nothing lay ahead but more of the same.
    If only I knew that futures are unwritten until you write your own.
    If only…

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