Last week, I nearly choked to death. Not metaphorically – I literally nearly choked to death. But this post is not about my actual experience, as unfortunate as it was; rather, as the friend sitting next to me quickly understood what was going on, told me to get up from my seat and promptly applied the Heimlich maneuver, it’s about what happened afterwards. Or what didn’t happen.
Hot flashes are the least of menopause. You will want to drive a knife through your heart; you will want to leave your lover, no matter how much you have loved them. You will feel as though your life is over, because it is. You will realize for the first time that your whole life people have looked at you because you are a woman and people look at women – but now, suddenly, you are invisible. But then something magical happens:
It’s been a bizarre week. On Wednesday, I sat in a hushed room listening to an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor talk about her experience for 90 minutes straight: her move into the Lvov ghetto when she was five; hiding in a basement for two weeks; her father securing fake Aryan papers for her and her mother; the flight to the countryside, then to Sweden once the Soviets invaded; her eventual passage to the United States and all the harrowing details in between.
The eagle has landed. The eagle being my mother who, at nearly 80, still crosses the Atlantic on her own and is immune to jet lag. Having her here for the next three months means Italian tv blaring at all hours; a constant chit-chat as she goes about keeping busy around the house; the silver finally cleaned and lot of cooking. I am hoping I inherited her wind-up bunny energy. Here are a few things that made me happy this week.
To my seven-year old eyes, Bologna, the city where I grew up, seemed a vast metropolis. A city of half a million people, with a famous and vibrant university, it was safe enough that, from the age of seven or eight, I would walk to school unaccompanied. I lived in the center of town and everything that lay outside the medieval walls was unknown to me, and it’s what conjured vastness.