Sunday, March 19, 2006

An Enchanting Brooklyn Flea Market

Where I last left off in this diary of mine I was falling in love with George and I guess that's why I wasn't writing here. George and I kept each other busy. I still haven't heard from him but am sure that I will.

I just thought that my adventure was coming to an end two years ago when I was falling behind in all of my bills and couldn't seem to find a job. I wasn't sure what I was going to do but Louise had some ideas. She said that one thing she'd learned was that anytime you give up in life you always wind up worse off and that that wasn't for me. So early one Saturday morning Louise was banging on my door, "Gracie. Up, up, up!" I was only awake seconds and there was that big beautiful Louise standing over me saying that she had somewhere to take me and that I had to hurry and get ready. Her makeup was on thick as usual and she even had put on a few beauty marks that I'd never seen before. I asked what the rush was all about and she told me that she had a car service waiting outside to take us to the flea market. She had fire in her eyes and I thought that I'd better get moving because I could see her determination and excitement. I quickly washed up and we were out the door.
The driver was an elderly man and apparently very familiar with Louise because on the way there he was teasing her about something she'd done one night in the neighborhood bar. Louise was feeling kind of good that night and she sat on the bar and sang some old tune for the regulars something about smoke getting in her eyes.
When we arrived at the flea market I was astonished by the vibrant colors that were everywhere. The merchandise was overflowing the tables and each table had one or two people behind it. It was amazing to me to see this incredible place right smack in the middle of a little Brooklyn neighborhood. They call the area Park Slope. It's the area where I met that man at Starbucks. Anyway, Louise took me around to all the dealers and introduces me to each of them and then she brought me over to the manager, Fred and said to Fred that this was the girl that she was talking about. Fred stopped and looked me over very carefully and then said "Okay." He then brought us over to a corner of the market and said "This is your spot." Louise shrieked with joy, "Gracie honey, you've got a spot at the flea market!" She was nearly dancing with delight. Fred said that he'd see me tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. and went back about his business. I really needed a coffee then. I couldn't imagine what Louise was thinking. What was I going to sell? Louise had it all figured out. We headed over to Starbuck's and took our coffee to the porch in the back. Louise looked deeply into my eyes and told me that we were now partners and that the next morning we'd set up at the market and sell the things that she'd collected in the building's basement over the last forty years.
Later that morning we went into the building's basemet and uncovered years of collecting. Everything was covered in dust and there were hundreds of boxes brimming with stuff. She chose three large boxes marked "Mrs. Jacobs jewelry, 1959," "We'll start with these, Gracie" The boxes were old fashioned hat boxes and each were filled with jewelry to the top. There were hundreds of pins, earring sets, necklaces and bracelets. They were stunning pieces but looked like they needed some cleaning. Louise said that we'd sell them just the way they were and the people at the flea market wouldn't want it any other way.
The following morning the old gentleman from the day before loaded up his car with our boxes, an old card table, two chairs and a picnic basket that Louise had filled with goodies. It was one of the most interesting days I've ever had. The jewelry flew off the table and Louise was alive with the thrill of bargaining. She made sure that nobody got too good a deal. She was very funny and had most of the customers laughing with her stories. At the end of the day she counted up the money and put a wad of bills in her bra. Then she turned to me and handed me four one hundred dollar bills. I told her that I couldn't take it and she grabbed my hands and told me again that we were partners and that partners share. She embraced me and I couldn't control myself and started to cry. Here was one of the strangest women that I'd ever met whose embrace and kindness could always bring me to tears. I love Louise and she loves me. These last two years we've been selling at the flea market we haven't made a dent in the basement but I've made some good friends and found that the real treasure in my life is this woman, Louise.

Monday, March 06, 2006

time passes

I can hardly believe that it's been two years since I've posted anything here. It's really amazing how quickly time passes. I was grateful to find my blog was still in existance, standing by like an old friend. I think that when I first started to write here it helped me to feel less alone and less afraid of starting out on my own. It was a comfort to me that I could jot down my new experiences and know that there were people that understood what I was going through. It really helped, so thank you.
I have a lot of catching up to do but for now will just say that I'm fine. I've made so many good friends here in Brooklyn and my life is actually so much better than I could have imagined. Sam, Louise and Ruth are doing well too. Sam is a new man and hasn't had a drink again after he saw that angel. I wish I could say the same for Louise but that's another story.
George is doing well too. He's someone that I've become so close to but there are times that we need to be apart. This is one of those times.
The sun is shining here in Brooklyn and I can feel the spring approaching. It's good to be here.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Siren Music Festival

I meant to get back to this a lot sooner but have been so busy. Sam is home from the hospital and seems to be like a new person. He told Louise that he saw an angel when he was about to have his heart surgery and the angel told him that if he would stop his drinking that he would have a new and wonderful life. He said that he'll never touch another drop. Louise has her doubts and said that he's said this before but that he'd never mentioned an angel before. We'll see.
When I left Ruth's apartment that morning to explore Coney Island I had a great time. I was walking down Neptune Avenue and along came this cute guy calling after me. His name is George and he's 21. He had been working inside a fish store and came running out when he saw me. It's funny but I could smell fish before he caught up with me but when I saw how cute he was I thought that it doesn't really matter. He said he was going to the
Siren Music Festival after he went home to clean up and he asked me to come with him. I said sure and he told me to meet him by West 10th and Surf Avenue. So I did and what a blast we had. He still smelled a little like fish but I could see that he was so clean from a shower. His name is George. (Louise got a big kick out of that and was teasing me about "George and Gracie," I love Louise.) The music was great and I had so much fun. I met George's sister, Faith and she seems really nice. They both have wavy blonde hair and freckles and great big blue eyes. After the concert, George walked me back to Ruth's place, I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and said goodnight. When Ruth finally answered the door she told me that Louise had fallen asleep and that it would be best if the two of us slept over. I saw Louise asleep on the couch and could see that her hair was every bit as red as Ruth's. She was snoring lightly and I thought that Ruth was probably right and I stayed the night. The next morning Ruth made dynamite pancakes and coffee and we spoke about our lives and dreams over breakfast. Louise had a hangover and said, "Honey, never again! At my age this is crazy." She was moaning most of the subway ride home and just like on our way out, she had the attention of all of the other passengers. George is picking me up in a few minutes and we're going out for a fish dinner. I really, really like George.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Dangling, Jingling and Tinkling

Off we went on the subway out to Louise's sister Ruth's place.  I noticed on the train ride that Louise attracted a lot of looks from the other passengers.  She has a very commanding presence.  She has long reddish hair that is past her shoulders and with all of her jewelry dangling, jingling and tinkling people are bound to notice her.  She wears worn out jeans, peasant blouses and sneakers and then their is the make up.  Her philosophy on make up seems to be that more is better.  Her eyelids are the color of a robin's egg and she wears a ton of mascara.  The lipstick is usually a deep shade of red and her nails are always painted another shade of red.  She has a very large bosom that she has remarked has served her well over the years.  She's a talkative woman and enjoys talking about her husbands and did on the train ride, all four of them deceased.  Her favorite was Sam's father who she said that she met while she was modeling in the 50's.  She was doing a spread for Vogue magazine and he was the photographer, after the shoot he took her for a drink and she said that he swept her off of her feet and that's the night her boy, Sam, was conceived.  They were married three months later.  Unfortunately the romance ended when "Husband number 1," was in a bar room brawl and was hit across the head with a bottle of scotch.  It hit him right across the temple and he only lasted a couple of days in a coma and then he was gone.  They'd been married two years at the time of his death.  Louise said that he was a lot of trouble but that he was worth it because, "Oh boy, did he know how to make me feel like a woman!"   She said that the louse that killed him only got 15 years. When I looked around I could see the other passengers were spellbound by her stories.
Ruth lives in a big old fashioned apartment building on Mermaid Avenue, isn't that a beautiful name for a street?  When we finally arrived at her door we stood ten minutes buzzing the bell before Ruth appeared.  She has  coiffed red  hair, like Louise's only a bit darker and no white roots,  and the same red lipstick  and red nails.  The second she opened the door there was a loud shriek by the two sisters, "Sweetheart,"  and they embraced.  The next few minutes they were busy chatting loudly, screaming, laughing and comparing notes.  The whole time  Ruth  glanced between the two of us and smiled at me profusely.  When they finally settled down Ruth looked at me and said so you're, "Gracie, you saved our Sam."  That's me Gracie, I suppose.  For the next couple of hours Ruth entertained us with a trunk full of pictures from the old days.  The two of them were laughing and crying as they explained each one to me.  Louise was a beauty and so was Ruth and amazingly so was Sam as a boy.  What happened?  There were so many pictures of Louise with her mother who must have weighed about 400 pounds.  She was always sitting and Louise would pose somewhere near her, either on the arm of the chair or behind her.  The difference in their sizes was striking.  Louise had a beautiful curvy shape and wore glamorous clothing.  She could have been a Lauren Becall look alike.  Her mother sat in the same position in every shot and had the same sad look on her face and the same plain dress on.  The Louise from the photos didn't seem to notice that because she herself always had a large smile showing off her perfect teeth.  Ruth and Louise said that, "Mama was so much fun,"  it didn't look that way to me but they know best.
Louise broke out a bottle of vodka and said, "Gracie Honey you take a walk around Coney Island while Ruth does my hair and we'll see you later."  So off I went to explore Coney Island.

I've got to go... But just want to give a quick update.  Louise is back visiting Sam, he seems to be doing better.  No job yet but I had my phone put in today and that's really it for now.  I'll be back soon.

Monday, July 19, 2004

no visitors

What a Weekend!  Methodist Hospital has banned Louise from visiting Sam.  I don't really blame them because it seems that whenever Louise visited, Sam's condition worstened.  I'm sure that the nurse's are relieved since Louise was constantly bothering them about something or other.  Friday evening they had to get the security guards to physically remove her.  It couldn't have been fun separating her from her boy.  Who will bring him his gin?  Poor Sam. It seems she was sneaking him in a pint or two every visit.  She was so upset when she came to my door that evening.  She asked me to come back to the hospital with her right away but I was able to calm her down with promises that I'd go with her in the morning.
The following morning we went there first thing but there was nothing that they would do.  They said that it was the doctor's orders that sam have no visitors until his condition showed some improvement and that Louise could speak to the social worker or doctor but that neither would be available until Monday morning.  Louise tried a couple of different approaches, crying, shouting and pleading but nothing worked.  The security guard was called and we were unceremoniously shown the door.  I could see that Louise wasn't finished so I tried to convince her to relax and that it was in Sam's best interest.  After a few minutes she caved in.  She said that Sam needed his rest and maybe it was best that she didn't visit for a couple of days (like it was her own idea.) 
When I suggested going back home she said no that we (like in the two of us) were going to visit her sister Ruth in Coney Island.  She hadn't seen Ruth in quite some time and she really needed her hair done, with that she pulled her hat off exposing 5 inches of white roots, "See what I mean Gracie, Honey?"   And that was the beginning of one of the craziest and most interesting weekends that I've ever had.   I'm in love with Coney Island now and strangely enough the more I'm with Louise the fonder I grow of her.  She is so complex and really a very lovely person.  I consider myself lucky to have met  her.  More later...

Friday, July 16, 2004

I'm feeling hopeful

I just discovered the editor in this blog.  I'm not too cool with doing web stuff but I'm willing to learn.  I didn't realize that I could change the color of the text till now.
I'm feeling so much better today.  The sun is shining here in Brooklyn and I'm feeling hopeful again.  I'm going to walk around a bit more and see if I can find some place to work.  There's a health food grocery store not far from here, so I may give that a try.  Louise has been spending a lot of time at the hospital with Sam.  He seems to be doing much better but they have to run a lot of tests still. It's something with his heart.  I wonder if his heart was ever broken.  Louise has taken to calling me Gracie as in, "Here comes my Gracie." Great! I've been here about two weeks and already I've been adopted.  That's all right, what harm can it do?
I've noticed that when I'm out and about this ring gets a lot of attention.  It make me feel a little uneasy.  I guess I'll have to get used to that.  I thought about not wearing it but I think that would really hurt Louise's feelings and it is beautiful, so I'll just keep on wearing it. 
I wrote a list of my goals.  I think that seeing them in writing will really help me to focus on them.  Here they are:

  1. Get a job!
  2. Look into schools (This is a little embarrassing but I have to get my High School Diploma because I was unable to finish school back home.  Not that I didn't want to.)
  3. Study the Brooklyn & Manhattan subway maps (I'm a little leery of Manhattan, it seems so big and there are so many people rushing around but I want to get to know it)
  4. Get the phone put in
  5. Buy a TV
  6. Buy a camera
  7. Buy a new PC
  8. Buy a new radio

and that's it for now.  Am I too materialistic?  Buy, buy buy!

I want to paint in here too and get some other stuff like a bed and at least one more fold up chair.

This morning  I was looking out of my window andI realized that I am home for now, whatever that means.  My apartment faces the back yard and it's very over grown with weeds and vines and there are beautiful birds there.  This is their home and mine too.

I think now that I've discovered the editor the time will be more accurate and eventually (especially if  I can get that camera) this blogie thing of mine will be a lot more fun.

I was thinking of calling William.  He's a sweet guy but he's a lot older than me.  I'll have to see.  I do keep thinking of him.  I liked when we laughed together.  I like his laugh.


Thursday, July 15, 2004

There are at least two sides to Grace

There are at least two sides to Grace. One half of me wants to run and the other wants to stay. I'm so exhausted and my thoughts and feelings are a sort of jumble.
I spent most of the last two days looking for work with no success and I'm not feeling really positive about that at this point and then there's Louise and Sam. One minute I'm celebrating my freedom and the next I'm taking care of them. In a way it doesn't seem fair. I was thinking that I could move but that's crazy. I can't move because I don't have the money for that and besides I just got here. I haven't even set this place up yet.
Yesterday after spending the entire day speaking to store managers and filling out applications I was so tired. Half the time I didn't even know where I was. It's easy to get lost in Brooklyn. As usual when I opened the front door I could hear Louise yelling but this time it was different, she sounded like she was hurt. I started to run up the stairs and when I got to the landing she said, "Honey, you're home. Something's wrong with Sam." She was crying and her mascara was running down her cheeks. I wanted to scream myself, what did she mean, "Honey, you're home?" Yes, I'm home but that doesn't include her and Sam or does it? She asked me to come in and have a look at Sam. I didn't want to but she was trembling and she had this sad and desperate look in her eyes, I couldn't say no. The place has a long dark hallway that winds around and leads to the living room and kitchen and there are all these other doors leading to who knows where. The living room is really large and Sam was stretched out on his back on the floor gasping for air. His face was bright red and the whole place smelled like beer and sweat. Sam was only in his undershorts and I could see that with each breath his huge stomach was rising and falling. It was one of those moments when I ask myself, "what am I doing here?" It felt so unreal. Louise hadn't called 911 so I asked her where the phone was and I did. A little while later we were all together in the back of an ambulance. When we got to Methodist Hospital they rushed Sam into the ER and Louise and I were sent to the waiting room and that's where we stayed for the next 5 hours. Louise was crying off and on and saying how I had saved Sammy's life and I was thinking to myself that I don't know how I got mixed up with them. Then it was my turn to cry. Louise wears a lot of jewelry. She has big hoop earrings and rings on each of her fingers even her thumbs. She also wears about ten bracelets on each wrist and has about six different necklaces. I guess she wears all of the jewelry that she owns all of the time. Anyway, she worked a ring off one of her fingers and told me that her mother had given it to her. It's the most beautiful ring that I ever saw. It has a deep red oval shaped stone surrounded by little pearls and there are these triangular blue stones on the sides. She said that her mother hid it during the war and that when she gave it to Louise she said it would always keep her safe and now she was placing it on my finger and telling me that it was blessed and would always keep me safe too. That's when I started to cry. It made me think of my own mother and how I wished that it were she there giving me the ring and how I have nothing of hers and probably never will. I couldn't stop myself from crying and Louise was holding my hand and telling me that everything would be all right. She was crying too. She had such a look of love in her eyes and told me that I'd saved Sammy's life and maybe I had.
Sam was admitted to the hospital and Louise and I didn't get home till after 2am. I'm so tired and don't really know what I want. I'm looking down at this beautiful ring and it makes me feel so sad, I'm unemployed, alone and wearing the ring of a princess. Life is strange. I know I'll never go home because there really isn't one to go to any more but is this my home? I feel lonesome for the things that are gone. I can't stop crying and my heart is breaking in two.

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