Grandma is on the right. I think the guy to her left is her brother, Buster?...on the far right is her husband, my grandfather who died before I was born. Look how they carry themselves, with such confidence and looking so great. It really was the golden age of American style.
I've been to Paris a few times, and whenever I am there I obsessively take photos of bits and pieces of the city. The top image is Ritz Paris, the famed hotel where I stayed on one of my trips. I liked the shadows on the building.
The second, less-interesting photo is the entrance to the Rue du Passy stop on the Metro. The building behind it is where I lived when I worked there as a model. Every day I would walk down those steps, grinding my teeth as I summoned the guts to go through another day of work and still retain a shred of self-confidence. Entering that Metro station, walking down those steps, was like crossing a line of battle. I was thrilled to be there, working, but...it was a lot to deal with mentally.
The apartment itself was the best part--I wish I had some good photos of it. Rue du Passy is in the 16th arrondissement, which is a beautiful area. Originally I was supposed to live someplace else--that first place was an extra room living with an elderly woman, but when I showed up the first day she called the agency and said she didn't want me there because I didn't speak French, and also she thought she was going to die soon. So, my agent told me to just leave, and I moved in with agency owner's brother. He, too, was elderly, and he had a home-care nurse come every day to do something behind closed doors; I never found out what specifically was wrong. It didn't matter. He was nice, and we'd watch old movies together at night. I was the only model with the agency to have my own bedroom, so I lucked out.
This was my agent, Paula, a wonderful woman from Lebanon who would hug me every day and call me "mon petit Dan." The guy on the left was another model with the agency. Obviously it was dark so this is a terrible photo but I loved Paula and this is my only photo of her. That night the three of us went to dinner and saw the Australian movie "Love Serenade." Paula went to only English-language movies, because she said "French films are SHIT." I couldn't tell you anything about the jobs I did, but I remember that movie night like it was yesterday.
These are two of my friends--the guy on the left was from Ohio, and the guy on the right was from Wales. Our main source of entertainment was going from party to party, where of course we weren't technically invited, looking for free food because we were so poor. Usually all we found was free champagne, which we drank like it was keeping us alive. Although the Ohio guy actually worked a lot doing catalog jobs, and those pay really well, so I think he had money and was just going along for fun.
In the middle is my grandmother, maternal side. She was the most genuinely happy person I have ever known. She taught me how to gamble and how to decorate even the simplest of meals with a sprig of parsley.
Grandma is in the middle of this photo. Back in the day, her basement was the site of countless parties, complete with Crock pots of assorted dips and music for dancing. People drove in from far and wide for her parties and had loads of fun, despite the body language of her friend on the far right, although I can't imagine how anyone could exist with that magical hairdo and not be consumed with utter joy. And need we discuss the liquor? Nothing needs to be said about that. Just take a look at the dainty glass that Dearest Grandma is holding, although I'm not sure why it is covered in a protective net.
It is every renter's worst nightmare: my building has been sold.
I have lived in this apartment for over 7 years, with no lease and never an increase in my already-inexpensive rent. Had it not been for this apartment, I would not have been able to afford going back to nursing school. It's a dump but it's home.
Without having final word of what is going to happen to all of us, I nonetheless began the process of cleaning out my closets, which have collected the memoribilia and detritus of years of life. In the back of a closet, way up high on a shelf, I found a box of photos that I apparently stashed there for safe-keeping, and then completely forgot about it as is usually the case with such well-intentioned ideas.
The paper on some of the photos is begging to disintegrate, so I scanned them all to share with family. Some of them are far too marvelous to not share with the ones and tens of people who read this blog, so I'll post them for all to enjoy. The first is below. I'm on the left. Apparently the same love that people have for pugs or other such odd-looking creatures is what my mother felt for me. And God bless her for it.
"Is everything okay? Do you need something? Do you need me to come down there?"
"I will come down there if you need me to--"
You're coming in a month for graduation.
"I know. I'm just saying..."
Well...besides graduating and having to find a job, my landlord just told me he sold this apartment building, and we all may have to move.
I know. It's the worst timing.
"When will you have to move out?"
We don't know. The new owners haven't said what they want to do with the building. But everything around here is being gutted and refinished so they can convert them to condos and vacation rentals, so I presume that's what they'll do with this building, too.
"What about Gurdy?"
What about him?
"Where will he go?"
He'll come with me. I presume the new owners don't want a cross-eyed, agoraphobic cat.
"Oh, good. He's so sweet."
So I just have to hope I can get a job before they make me move out.
"Well, you don't have that much stuff. Moving won't be hard."
I'm throwing away most of my furniture if I move. Most of it is junk. There's no point in paying to move Ikea.
"And you can get rid of some of your clothes."
"You have waaaaaay too many clothes."
I'm sorry, what?
"Can you hear me?"
I'm not sure. What did you just say?
"That you have too many clothes?..."
Oh my God. Mother.
I'm NOT getting rid of my clothes.
"Think of how much easier it will be to move if you don't have--"
If I don't have what? My favorite velvet tuxedo jacket?
"Your favorite velvet tuxedo jacket? Do you have a less-favorite velvet tuxedo jacket?"
Yes. I have two. No! Three! Two black, one grey.
"When was the last time you wore them?"
Last night, in my dreams. I'm not getting rid of them.
"Okay. But then, why do you need two pairs of green chinos that are exactly the same?"
Wrong. One is J. Crew, one is...not J. Crew, I forget. Doesn't matter. They're totally different.
"But you wear shorts and T-shirts every day. Why do you need all those clothes?"
Because I like them. It's like people who live in New York. They never go to The Met, but they feel better knowing it's there.
"Well good luck fitting all of it into the trunk of your car."