One day in 1956, a young woman (me) answered a classified ad in the New York Times for an East Side apartment. She was currently living in a closet-sized room in the Barbizon Hotel for Women, while Jack, her soon-to-be ex-husband, remained in Brooklyn with Rick, their 6-year-old son -- being looked after by his baby sitter, Mabel. He called her Mommy Mabel.
At this generally pre-feminist time, I worked as a textile designer in Manhattan.
My objective was to find a suitable one-bedroom space for myself and Rick while making history of his father, who never wanted kids in the first place. But accidents happen -- more on that later.
Miraculously, there was a vacancy for 5.5 rooms at a good address and a perfect rent-controlled price -- less than $200 per month. Can you believe it?
As I recall, it was a holiday weekend -- Memorial Day? The management staff was vacationing, and the office was represented by a kid who apparently didn't know that there was a long waiting list of people for deals like that who would gladly pay under the table for preference. Ignorance is bliss. I put my furniture in storage, Rick spent the summer at sleep-away camp and I moved in with a cot, a card table, a couple of folding chairs and pots and pans.
Flash forward 57 years.
I could write a book about what these walls have witnessed. So be it -- I guess I am actually doing just that.
IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK!
The Ricky Years
The Arnold Years
The Carol Years
The Ira Years
The Suited For Success/ Suitability Years
The Declining Years
The Redecorating Years
The Entrepreneurial Years
The "First Step" Years
Since none of this is written yet, it is not carved in stone. It is sourced only in the erratic recollections of my mind.
For now I shall restrict myself to the present.
I will tell my truth, as best I recall it. The essence is accurate. The rest is irrelevant.
So I am leaving this place I called home for most of my life, for an as yet unknown destination. It is an adventure filled with uncertainty and apprehension.
Anticipation spiced with a bit of fear.
Now that I have accepted the inevitability of such drastic change, I recall that moving to a new residence ranks -- stress-wise -- up there with death of a loved one, divorce, serious illness and other perceived losses in life.
My preference is to regard this process as fraught with opportunity. I shall focus as much as possible on this window of opportunity through which I leave the past behind, taking with me only that which I wish to live with at the moment, space permitting. Much I shall sell or give away. It is time for a new mood, a fresh palette, remembering a brief motto I wrote.
Think newly. Think clearly. Think truly.
Also the sage advice of William Morris, "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
In this way, I shall literally move into my future, knowing that when Queen Elizabeth departs the throne, she will leave her crown and Buckingham Palace to a new generation. (Weep not for Liz -- the halls of heaven hold far more value!)
Divinity must destroy in order to recreate. The symbol which I shall adopt as my new logo is that most magnificent of creatures, the phoenix, which ritually burns itself to ashes then emerges gloriously as a symbol of rebirth.
"Behold, I make all things new." -- Revelation 21:5
For more by Irene Tanner, click here.
For more on wisdom, click here.