Tag Archives: 158 main

And then, a new year

New Year’s Eve was slightly different this year, or rather my last activities of the day made it different. I spent about an hour taking pictures at 158 Main as the crew prepared the dining room to serve 2013’s last, and absolutely booked dinner.

The atmosphere reminded me of working as a theater properties master, years ago, especially during the last few days before opening night. Everyone was tired, yet on task and exhilarated somehow. Everything is coming together. There is much satisfaction in this. Last night felt similar, but it also provided a new explanation for that unique feeling of giddiness that comes with this sort of labor.

The task at hand does not matter; all that is required is a common goal, a sense of being part of a team and a sense of accomplishment as everything painstakingly falls into place. Everyone plays a part. Everyone feels useful.

This seems to be a recurring theme for me lately, this being useful. I am beginning to understand that this sense of contributing something is perhaps the most important ingredient against despair. I could find plenty of reasons for despair, especially just 48 hours away from the anniversary of Roderick’s passing, but again and again I realize that I am uplifted, as if by a floating device, every time I happen to do something that makes me feel useful.

We gain new awareness in such moments; the sort of awareness that reminds us that our input has value. It gives purpose. Purpose, then, is not a goal to attain, but rather a state of being. It demands action. More than this, it demands action that involves others as well.

I saw this on the smiling faces of the restaurant crew last night, while I walked about the dining room with my camera. They were tired, but working as one and having fun. From chef to dish washer to waitress to dining room manager, they were all equals in their endeavor. This sense of belonging is important too. It is not something one develops; it emerges on its own when we abandon ourselves to the dynamics of the moment, playing exactly the part we are supposed to play.

When I sat down to write this article, I thought I would simply mention my usual New Year’s Eve activities and see what string of thought that might bring along. Now I see that I received a gift last night. I was reminded that I am a part of something. I am not insignificant.

Yesterday began with my usual routine of doing a first Facebook post for all my accounts before I make coffee and consider the day has formally begun. For 158 Main, I found a few odd facts about New Year’s Eve customs, including a belief that the coming year will be lucky if a tall, dark-haired man happens to be within sight on New Year’s Eve.

Something I remembered this morning made me laugh. Just before I left the restaurant after my photo shoot, I gave chef Jack a quick hug and we wished each other a good new year. He is a tall, dark-haired guy. The universe has a good sense of humor and this New Year’s Eve has been my Christmas.


Would I have made a good mother?

There is a restaurant across the street from where I live. A very good one at that. It’s called 158 Main, if ever you travel this way. It begins serving brunch at 8 am on Sundays. There were people waiting for the door to open before 8 this morning.

Soon after, the parking area in front of the restaurant was full and cars had lined up on both sides of the street. Mothers and grandmothers emerged from every single vehicle. Mine passed away 29 years ago, but while I do not have a mother to visit on this day, it is inevitable that I would think about my own mom. It is the first time, however, that I consciously ask myself whether I would have been a good mother.

ps - mom
My mother

It has always seemed clear that since I did not have the instinct to make children, then it was the right path for me, and for them, that I not do so. My mother loved children, so it is baffling that I did not get that “gene.” But you can’t force those things.

Part of me feels that I might have been a bad mother. For a long time, I was somewhat of a volatile person, feeling perfectly at peace with the world one moment and ready to throw a tantrum the next. I kept this in check as I grew, and quickly learned that I could have these emotions and not act on them. That was just a common sense choice and it worked, but it worked because I had the freedom to isolate. Nevertheless, I concluded that I would not have been a good mother and wondered if I was normal.

In my teens, on the city bus on the way to school, I always felt uncomfortable when a child stared at me. It was not unpleasant discomfort. Just an emotion I could not name. I could not help staring back and seeing the deep intelligence in those children’s eyes. It felt as though I did not deserve their attention.

Years later, friends of mine hosted a fresh Air Kid from the Bronx. It was summer and my husband and I spent a day with them and this shy but playful 9-year old girl. Everything was new to her. She had never even seen a cow or a lake. My friend who hosted this child was a nurse and clearly had greater mother instincts and know-how than I did. Then, something I felt I did not deserve happened.

We took the girl swimming in a lake. You should have seen the beaming smile on her face. She was the most radiant and appreciative kid there. As we eased our way into the water, she took my hand. I was speechless. As we progressed deeper, she grabbed my neck so I would hold her. I stood still, holding her, melting, fighting the tears. I am fighting tears as I write this.

I have no regrets. My path is clear now and I was not supposed to be a mother. But I think I have experienced the unconditional love and trust of a child and a glimpse at an unspeakably beautiful gift: motherhood.

Maybe I am normal after all. Happy Mother’s Day.