Thursday, April 25, 2024

Before I start with the movies ...

I'm back from my trip to Hollywood and the TCM Classic Film Festival. I had a wonderful time and it was great to get away.*

But before I dove into 4 days of movies on six screens, I spent a little time with civilians. You know, non-movie nerds.

Wednesday night, my first dinner in Hollywood was at Mel's, "America's Most Iconic Diner." My companion was my oldest friend's 27-year-old daughter. I can't get over how delightful she was! I remember when she was a teenager and nothing but trouble. But she has a job she loves -- a tech at an ophthalmologist's office -- and a boyfriend named Jose and a black mutt named Mia Rose. I loved hearing about her life now, and she wanted to hear about her parents way-back-when. They divorced when she was in Kindergarten and have nothing good to say about one another, so she was fascinated by my memories of when they first met. I told her I never thought they should marry -- they were just hot for one another but they didn't seem to have anything in common -- but if they hadn't, I wouldn't be sitting here, drinking with her, so I'm glad they did. She confessed she feels a little guilty for liking her stepmom. I reiterated that I don't think her parents would have made it, even if her dad had never met "The Other Woman." I hope I helped. I'm really glad I got to see her and if I return next year, she wants to do it again.

Thursday I had lunch at The Grove. It's a high-end shopping mall in LA. It's pretty and it's got some great stores, but we have Charlotte Tilbury, Coach and Nordstrom here, so that was kind of a yawn. What we don't have here is outdoor seating almost 12 months a year, so I enjoyed dining outside -- in April! -- while gazing upon a gorgeous fountain.

My companion was Tina. We worked together back when Bill Clinton was President. Before the turn of the century. I was surprised she wanted to see me. We weren't that tight in the olden days but we've stayed connected via social media. She moved to Redondo Beach early in 2023 and, when she saw my TCMFF photos on Facebook last year, made me promise to let her know if I return, so ...

I had a surprisingly good time. She's been a stay-at-home mom, raising two kids now in their 20's. I don't know many women with that profile, so I found this glimpse into her life interesting. It was nice to hear how she remembered working with me. My boss in those days led me to believe I was difficult. I was glad to hear that isn't how Tina experienced me. Plus, it was flattering that she thinks of me so fondly. I've had a rough month or so, and I'll take all the positive reinforcement I can get!

 I hope now you're ready for some movies, because that's what the following posts are gonna be.

*Thank you, Country Dew, for thinking of me. Much appreciated. ❤

About that suitcase in my living room

It's been sitting there since Tuesday night. I really have to do something with the contents. And I will. Just not tonight.

It's filled with silly magnets, a couple of photographs, and some of my friend John's shirts.

I starting getting texts Monday PM when I landed at O'Hare. Gregory was letting me know that John's brothers -- already out of town and back to their lives in Virginia and Massachusetts -- wanted John's friends to take whatever they wanted out of his apartment ... now. Beginning tomorrow morning (Friday) his belongings are going to packed up and "disposed of" by arrangement with the apartment building's management company.

Strangers are going to be handling all of John's stuff. The Saran Wrap in the drawer under the sink, the prescription bottles in the medicine chest, the dirty clothes in his hamper. His beloved vinyl LPs. His photo albums, which I couldn't find but I know included pictures of me with the lover I spent my 20s with.

He moved into that building in Chicago's Old Town back in 1980. I've celebrated birthdays, watched Oscar ceremonies and cheered the Cubs countless times over more than 40 years. I'll never be there again.

Just crossing that threshold the last time was upsetting. I asked Gregory what was going to happen to the three chairs along the counter in John's kitchen. I perched on those chairs. He said I could have them if I wanted them. "No one cares," he said. Then he added, "It doesn't sit right with me, but this is what's happening."

I admit I was overwhelmed. I wanted to grab everything I could, and I wanted to run away fast and empty handed.

I didn't take anything of real value. I retrieved the magnets I gave him over the years, happy to see them displayed in his kitchen and alongside his bathroom mirror. I wanted some of his clothes. Before Covid, I recall John teasing me about being familiar with so many of the panhandlers I passed in The Loop. "I know the bartenders, you know the homeless," he joked. I told him their stories and then, a few weeks later, he offered to share a pair of new shoes that didn't quite fit right. I'd made a convert! That meant a lot to me, so Tuesday I grabbed shirts and sweaters to donate. It seems like a good way to honor him.

I took a lovingly framed photo of Miss Diana Ross he snapped years ago. He couldn't believe how good his seats were or how close he was able to get to the stage.*

And I took a cardboard W on a black rope necklace. It's what gained us admittance to the 2016 Cubs Convention. We didn't go because we wanted to, we went because he knew how much it would mean to me. Here's what I wrote about it in real time:

He also said something very sweet to me. He said that the times in life he's laughed the hardest have been the times he's been with me. "You know, when your face hurts from laughing." And he said he that in addition to giving me this experience for my birthday, he wanted to spend the time with me. How cool is that?

The last time I saw John, before he slipped out his consciousness, I made him smile, too. I am so grateful for that memory. 

I guess the memories will have to do. They are really all I have left now.

*He performed onstage with Miss Ross once, back in the 1980s. She pulled him on stage to sing "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)" with her. Gregory captured that moment and it's only fitting that Gregory took that framed photo.

Photo by Sun Lingyan on Unsplash