September 12, 2018

Apartment In The Sky


My grandmother’s apartment was on the 22nd floor in a highrise in a low income area and you always took your life in your hands whenever we visited her...thank god I was only born in a hospital there and didn’t live there...we lived in the suburbs...to get to her place, you drove past a 9 hole golf course on the edge of town where I learnt my game...I spent quite a few days playing there with my old man...I understand it’s not there anymore and I don’t even know if her old apartment building is still there...you went by a shopping center where we used to take her...she didn’t care about shopping...she just liked to get some coffee and people watch...or we’d go out to lunch, where she’d say “damned hamburger, French fries, and Coke...that’s all he ever orders”, talking about my menu choice...hey, I was only like 9 or 10 at the time and nothing came close to her cooking...the city’s barely there and it wasn’t much better back in the day...you’d drive further into the city and see bombed out ruins or what look like bombed out ruins of churches, gas stations, shopping malls, burned out houses and schools...it looked like WWII happened there...practically the whole city looked like it had been the target of some Luftwaffe bombing missions...she had lived there or thereabouts for fifty years running her own restaurant and living in various apartments, she didn’t want to leave, but she couldn’t take care of herself any longer...she had divorced her first husband, and the second one she said “throw him in a ditch” when he died...he hadn’t made prior burial arrangements and she didn’t want to be bothered...I remember going into her apartment and it had that ‘old people’s smell’ to it...once she started cooking though...bacon and onions for homemade dumplings, roast chicken...oh man...my Mom helped her in the kitchen making Khvorost...that’s a Russian crispy dessert-like sweet made out of dough, shaped into twists and deep-fried...then you sprinkle some powdered sugar on it...yum...she used to slip me a few dollar bills even though she didn’t have many herself…when first approached about moving to a ‘seniors’ home, she said she didn’t want to live with a bunch of ‘damned old people’...of course most of them were younger than she was...but, she acquiesced...when the nurses at the facility kept stealing her Listerine, she pissed into a bottle...they stole that but they quit stealing after that...Listerine at least...the nursing home was full of bitter old people taken care of by nurses who came from the islands...some were nice and patient, most weren’t...anyway, when you get old, you become irrelevant and invisible to society...the avant garde becomes the old guard and the old guard keeps getting older...the ‘never trust anyone over 30’ crowd becomes the ‘never trust anyone under 30’ crowd...old age is a shipwreck Charles De Gaulle once said and I say we’re all captains of doomed vessels...we’re all going to the scrapyard...maybe it’s better to ‘die young, stay pretty’...but not too young of course...my doctor told me recently, that if I don’t quit drinking, I’d be taking years off my life...I told him I didn’t have any plans or desire for those last few years anyway.

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