I slept in this morning after working late last night and was awakened by my boyfriend. He usually sleeps longer than I do, but not this morning.
“We have to clean up before my friends come over today!” he shouted as he dashed into the bathroom with a sponge.
I hadn’t seen Savoy in this mode for a long time since we haven’t had too many visitors, except only outdoors for so long. Also, his friends would most likely sit outside as well. But what if they came in to use the bathroom or something? Or what if we decide to sit inside?
We live in two rooms of a large house which Savoy owns. He rents out two parts of the house, and we have two rooms and a bathroom. It’s a bit cluttered and crowded, and there is no closet to hang clothes, but Savoy finally brought his dresser down from upstairs so at least I have a place to put my clothes besides in a suitcase. There’s no way our place will ever look “immaculate” by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s okay. I’m comfortable here, and happy though a lot of my stuff still remains in storage. And so is Savoy. Unless someone is visiting, then he goes into total OCD mode. It drives me nuts. I must have coffee before I can function well, and suddenly all I heard was, “the dishes need to be done!” and other stuff which I chose to ignore as I rubbed my eyes.
Suddenly I remembered, almost as if it were a dream, but it wasn’t.
I was back on Second Avenue in San Francisco at our flat, and it was some time in the 1960’s.
I heard my mom’s voice utter those two words, “GRANDMA’S COMING!”
All of a sudden, we’re all running around like crazy people shoving stuff into closets and stuffing clothing on the floor into dresser drawers that were already full. Mom brought out the pictures which Grandma had given her and she hated, especially that picture of Grandma with the golden-gilded frame. She wore a mink stole and pearls and looked quite elegant. I didn’t think it looked that bad, but Mom hated it for some reason, something about the mink stole that bugged her, and she didn’t think it was a realistic picture. I didn’t know until many years later when I somehow inherited said picture that Grandma had made several copies. My sister had a copy as well, and heaven knows who else. But all I knew as a kid was that Mom only hung the picture when Grandma was coming. Suddenly, we were all sweeping, mopping, throwing stuff away, washing, cleaning, like the whole world was going to come to an end.
Then Mom would borrow the folding bed from our neighbors and set it up in the middle of our bedroom with the bright lime green walls. Mom had Grandma sleep in our room because she snored. I guess it was okay for us to deal with it, but not Mom. Plus I think Mom wanted to smoke in her bedroom and Grandma wouldn’t like that. That’s what I suspected.
When Grandma finally arrived, she always looked perfectly dressed like someone who came off the movie set with lots of jingling jewelry and fancy clothes. Yet she had the cutest laugh, and she was so sweet to us, at least to me and my brother and sister. She didn’t mind sleeping in our room, and we didn’t mind it either because she’d tell us stories and giggle and say, “Ice Cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream a lot.” She also sang, and she sounded sort of like an opera singer.
I didn’t notice that Grandma looked at how clean our flat was when she arrived. It was never perfect because we had a lot of stuff, walls lined with bookcases stuffed with books, lots of pictures and knick-knacks mixed with our toys, my brother’s telescope, my coveted record player, games and all kinds of stuff. She never said anything to us except she did mention something about the pictures on the wall above my bed. She said, “Who are those men?” I had to explain they were the Beatles — those color photos from the White Album. But maybe Mom noticed something that we didn’t.
So I had to laugh when I watched Savoy go a little crazy as I thought of, “GRANDMA’S HERE!