Summer in Florida is like winter in the north, Floridians stay indoors. It’s a time to get organized and tidy up. So, I went through my writing stuff, and discovered some poetry. This one was inspired by social media in November of 2012.
We publicly post our words
Text, twitter and talk.
Likes keep us playing the game
Comments share a thought.
Then, tease each other about being friends
“Tell me a secret and I’ll tell you mine.”
Social media is a push pull effect . . .
But, what is a friend?
. . . just saying
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Listening to Alan Alda’s podcast Clear and Vivid gives me something to think about. Recently he interviewed Robin Dunbar, who researched Monkey behavior and why Apes groom each other, constantly. You know what his talking about, the behavior of hunting through their mate’s skin and hair for what not. Bugs?
His investigation expanded to human behavior, termed; Dunbar’s Number and Circle of Friends, and concluded . . . relationships and their quality effect the longevity of life. This comes as no surprise to most of us, however, now data backs it up.
The anthropologist theory is that the average number of relationships humans can maintain is one hundred and fifty. It is okay to scratch your head and ponder Facebook claims of thousands by some individuals.
His research supports the concept of circles of friends; the closest has just five people (loved ones), followed by a layer of 15 (good friends), next 50 (friends), followed by 150 (meaningful contacts). The outer two circles include 500 (acquaintances, aka people who smile when they see you) and 1500 (those you recognize, but can’t remember why).
Keep in mind, people migrate in and out of these layers and sometimes are referred to as flat leavers. No worries, that makes room for someone else in your circle of friends.
Clearly however, having friends increases the quality and length of one’s life. Especially as we age. It is important to have someone to respond when you’ve fallen and can’t get up, bring you chicken soup if you have the flu, and drive you to a doctor’s appointment.
But we often lose loved ones and, or don’t get along with relatives. So, how do we make friends?
Well, touch triggers endorphins and consequently bonding. Apes groom each other repetitively for closeness. They have smaller brains, fewer friends and grooming activities to attract them. Similarly, humans have behaviors that forge relationships; laughter, singing, dancing, drinking and eating. That’s why people dine, drink, dance and laugh the night away.These activities draw people together, and then something does or doesn’t happen.
Dunbar identified seven pillars of friendship or why friendship lasts. Understanding the Power of Our Most Important Relationships (London, UK: Little, Brown Book Group Dunbar, R (2021) goes into depth.
having the same language (or dialect)
growing up in the same location
having had the same educational and career experiences
having the same hobbies and interests
having the same worldview (moral, religious, and political views)
having the same sense of humor
having the same musical tastes
So, if one stops playing golf, or joins a nudist club one might pretend not to know them in the grocery store.
Unbeknownst to them, they have been relegated to an outer circle.
. . . just saying
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(A friend confided her memory of a dance recital and wearing a red dress in detail. Regrettably, she had no childhood pictures of herself. I wrote this poem for her.)
Little Girl Blues
A photograph will always be in my mind.
Not on a bureau, credenza, night stand or shelf.
There is no where to look.
Nothing to find.
It’s not in the foyer, on a desk, or anywhere else.
The treasure lies deep inside my mind.
A girl . . . in a magenta dress!
Dancing the flamingo.
Swirling . . . Twirling.
Her feet stomp the floor.
The red taffeta bodice clings to her chest.
The crinoline and chiffon flounce and cheer for more.
The white poka dots stand and applaud.
There is no where to look.
Nothing to find.
The treasure lies deep inside my heart and mind.
. . . just saying
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(The word pearl was a prompt given at a writing session. A strong female character came to mind and her story enfolded.)
The last time I saw her, she was young; youth sparkled in her eyes. Now the sparkle is gone, the jade blue color diminished by time; her convictions etched in lines across her face. Her once narrow nose is broader, broken from standing up for others. Her chest sunken with anger, not there the first time we met.
“Pearl is that you?” I inquire.
She strains to turn towards me, her range of motion greatly compromised.
“Yes, I’m Pearl,” Her voice recalls dignity, and she pauses to ask, “Have I had your acquaintance?”
It was 1971; we got on the Concourse Avenue bus in the Bronx, each with a child in hand. She took notice of my bruises and we became friends.
I take the seat alongside her and gently touch her forearm, “Pearl, it’s me Rosa . . . . Rose, remember. . . .” I expect her to ooze with gladness, say, “Lordy, Lordy, Rose, how are you?”
Instead, she says “Rose? Can’t recall a Rose, refresh my memory child.”
If she remembers me, she would never mention beatings, and hiding in safe houses. I remind her of Bainbridge Park; how we would meet after lunch, let the children play in the sand box then walk them to sleep in strollers.
“I remember sunshine and playgrounds, how is your boy . . . ?”
“Danny, Dan, he’s at Fordham University; studying to be a lawyer.
Danny was five when I made the decision to leave the morning after a beating. I phoned my sister, asked her to get him from school, and left a note for John saying I didn’t want a divorce, and wouldn’t fight him for our son.
I worried about leaving Danny behind. Pearl said, “Don’t fret; your boy be fine,” and hooked me up with people.
John was a New York City Police officer and protected by his brothers, but the force would not ignore his beating a child.
Sill, I moved every four months with a new identity.
Three years later, the Richmond Virginia Newspaper reported the hunt for the killer of John McGill, a NYC Police Officer shot in the line of duty. I went home; stood next to his coffin, widowed with a pension; my eight-year-old son at my side.
John had never mentioned I was gone to anyone on the force.
Now Pearl dozes next to me, and her head bobs from side to side startling herself. “What was I saying?”
“We were talking about the time we brought the boys to the Bronx Zoo and rode the train around the park ten times. You packed potato salad and fried chicken; a stranger asked to buy your picnic lunch.”
The mention of potato salad crystallizes in her milky eyes, “I remember the day you left, bruised and wearing borrowed clothes; it broke my heart knowing I’d not see you again. How you been?”
“I never got to thank you, Pearl. . . .” She interrupts my attempt at gratitude and explanation of regret .
“Hush, Woman . . . tell me something that will make me smile.”
* * * just saying
(Originally posted on November 23, 2014)
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I recently flew to Boston for a girlfriends weekend and came home thinking I have to get away more. It was not just the good company but getting out in the world of Uber, Lyft, and Google Maps.
I did not know you could “Fly Dry” or that there are several head devices and hats to stimulate hair growth. The Delta Sky Magazine tucked inside the seat pocket (along with a vomit bag) advertised these products.
Having made a commitment to reading or rereading as many of the 100 books on the Great American Read list, I was reading Lois Lowry’s novel, “The Giver.” Last week I read “1984” and thought this a good choice to read next because both have similar themes, loss of individuality, but from contrasting societal views. “The Giver” takes place in a utopian world and “1984”, a dystopian. Neither are happy reads, although there is no expectation of a happy ever after ending from Big Brother, “The Giver” leaves you guessing and me personally, annoyed.
So bored and grumpy over the ending of “The Giver” I thumbed through the airline magazine. Zach Posen, the designer of new uniforms for Delta’s attendants, was on the cover and I recognized him from Project Runway. Yes, I was a fan. The attendants on the plane wore the new plum colored uniforms that looked practical, comfortable, and wrinkle free. I was reading along when low and behold after the hair restoration advertisements, an ad for icon underwear similar to what I purchase for the trip appears. The tag line Fly Dry, caught my attention and I slipped a pair of cheaters on to read the smaller print, Pee-proof Underwear that keeps you dry on the fly.
I refrained from poking the person next to me and saying aloud, “When did peeing discretely in your pants, find a market?” Then thinking, perhaps it is a better option for those in the window seat reluctant to disturb fellow passengers, especially with the beverage cart in use. Thankfully, further investigation revealed the undergarment is for incontinence of three teaspoons or less.
Relieved I reclined my seat the one quarter of an inch allowable, closed my eyes, and savored the weekend trip.
We arrived late in the day, Saturday, but managed an ocean view meal that evening, at Renzo’s in Revere Beach. Sunday morning we viewed The Blaschka Glass Models of Plants and Flowers at the Harvard Museum of Science, and then walked “The Secret Gardens of Cambridge” stopping for lunch at Toscana’s. In the evening, we went to Cheers Restaurant where no one knew our names, but Norm was there even though he was not. His presence was a cardboard cutout.
The following morning we were up and out of the hotel early for a Duck Tour. The tour guide, an over-weight past prime super hero, wore a red letter S on his chest and swirled a blue cape. His humor and knowledge of Boston, made us forget it was raining. Lunch was at California Pizza, we did not have pizza. It was the closest restaurant in the rain. After lunch we walked two blocks to the Public Library, a beautiful museum in itself and then made the trek to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to see missing artwork stolen in 1990 (you have to look for the empty frames). I say trek because, Google said it was a mile (the distance birds fly), it had to be a good three miles. I had a latte in the elegant Isabella Garden Café (white tablecloths) before mustering up the energy to climb the stairs and hunt for the missing pictures.
The finale of the trip was dinner in North End at Lucia on Hanover St. The meal was memorable.
I loved Boston and would return in a blink but the best was being with friends who have been friends for years. Two I have known since moving to Newton, N.J. in 1981 so that gives us 37 years of friendship. My oldest friend I met when we were thirteen. She is not older I have simply know her the longest, 57 years. Yikes! I am very blessed.
Year to date I am flying dry on my own, but you never know.