The “home” I’ve worked from has been on a small hill that overlooks a pond. I’ve seen and heard it all from up there – photo shoots, film crews, a wedding, Shakespearean plays. Almost 9 years ago, before I relocated to New York, a thick-accented man approached me not too far from this hill, to ask for my number and whether I was a virgin. (I initially thought he was saying “Belgian,” which created a good deal of confusion for nearly a full minute.)
Yesterday’s most riveting concentration-breaking scene came in the form of a distressingly raucous argument, in a language that’s foreign to me, between a very old woman in a motorized wheelchair and her male companion. He (who might be her son but, in this time and place, could just as easily be her fiancé) was doing the bulk of the yelling, teetering on the brink of getting physical. There was the real fear of her getting chucked into the pond, wheelchair and all. When she couldn’t take it any longer, she shouted something back at him and zoomed away in the chair. Whatever she said effectively put him in his place. He looked sad and scared to see her go.
The old and infirm in New York are as tough as they come. They continue to do great work in their high-pressure offices well into their seventies, when they could have retired a decade earlier; and cruise through Midtown rush-hour traffic in their wheelchairs; and slowly, but purposefully, walk their dogs, with only the company of a cane or a walker, after the sun has gone down. Discount them at your own detriment.
From my hill, I had an unobstructed view of the eastern half of the pond. I could see things the son/fiancé couldn’t see from his bench down below. I bet she wanted him to think she sailed all the way home, after deciding to cut him off for good. But all she’d done was park her power-chair on the other side of the pond, where she sat still, before turning around to pick him up so they could head out together. As they exited the park, she took the lead, stopping every now and then (head held high, never looking back) to wait for her fella to catch up.