Sunday, December 31, 2006
At Edgar's there are balloons on the backs of chairs. Infants are entranced by them. A passing waitress gets caught up in the string. She's not the one in the party hat. Her Happy New Year tiara is on again off again. Starting the party a little early, but what the hell. Everyone wants the year to end.
He's on oxygen even at home now. He stopped walking five miles on the Boardwalk each morning over five years ago. No more walking stairs. She recalls, for as long as she can remember, things to go up in the attic piled on the sides of the lower stairs until one of the family was headed up. Her husband screeching about books piled up on the stairs in her country house. See, she told him last time they saw her father, this is what I was taught to do. But he's had the attic cleaned out for years now, nothing much left. And things he can no longer use are no longer stored up there. He can't quite understand why she doesn't want them, so he asks again.
This is her father's clutter. She thinks of four years ago, when he was in the hospital, how it took her over two hours to find two checkbooks. Papers piled up on the twin beds pushed together in his study that used to be her room. More on the desk and even more on the dining room table. The day after he turned 90 he didn't want to meet them for lunch because he still had to work on his taxes. No more extensions left. And the day before he went in the hospital this last time he was so proud that the clutter, on the beds at least, had gotten almost manageable. A week in Shore Memorial and it's all piled up again. Papers slipping through the crack between those two beds. Even if she'd wanted to stay in that house there would be no room for her. But this last time it took her less than ten minutes to find his checkbook.
The last day of the year. Were this a mayoral election year, they'd be preparing City Hall Park for tomorrow's inauguration. But Bloomberg has two more years left. The same as Bush, she wants to say. But the presidency doesn't change until January 20th. Twenty days from now, she might well give up her New Years resolutions to keep her desk neat and develop better eating habits. Hours before leaving office, Clinton pardoned 140 prisoners, commuting the sentences of another 36. Some were 70s radicals, but none were actual murders. The count of the dead in Iraq is now greater than those killed on 9/11. And it's another 2 years of Bush, not just another 21 days. Her next move should be to turn away from this computer, pick up a stack of papers, and at least look them over.