It was a lucky day; the air was not too cold for walking across the long bridge to my home. It was St. Valentines Day, which is a day in the past I have not been particularly fond of, due to growing up in a house with parents whom had celebrated the day profusely since they had taken the plunge and decided to get married in Heinz Chapel on this particular day of the year.
When I was a teenager, and mostly miserable all the time, Valentines Day disgusted me. My mother would walk around the house with a little dance, and my dad always sent her flowers or a rose dipped in gold, and my mom would set up little packages for my sister and I on the kitchen table. Chintzy dollar store coffee cups with painted hearts that would peel off after one dishwashing. More often than not the mug would be stuffed with little candy hearts and a pair of red socks that were always for little girls, and never quite fit my big feet. Being way too much of a jerk, and 14, I hated this gift, and still remember rolling my eyes, and probably never saying thank you for the small gesture. Now that I’m older my mother’s small gestures are most important in my heart.
Years later I am walking across the long bridge to my home and I am remembering these little things. Years later I am walking home and I am mostly in love with my life, though not always happy with myself. It is winter, and it is often cold, but not too cold today, for winter, for Pittsburgh. I am wrapped in a coat and scarf, warm mittens, and a hat. Long underwear. Some people do not get the pleasure of four seasons and I am grateful for this transference today, that with every season I become new again, I regenerate, refresh, and grow older. When spring comes I will feel elated with the sun and thusly becoming.
Years later my parents are growing older. I am now able to note the new lines in their faces, the way they change, how much simpler things are, but only on some days, when they’re not so much harder. How they have aged graciously, and are so full of goodness. How I am grateful for conception now after years of being angry. (I did not receive any coffee mugs or socks this year, and am laughing that this year I wanted one since I am quickly loosing all my coffee mugs to a spunky kitten who likes to knock things off tables.)
It was a lucky day because I was walking the long bridge to my home. The sky was grey. The air was cold, but not too cold. It would have been easy to feel lonely on this walk, but I did not. There was suddenly so much noise about! A thumping bass, a car of college students laughing, a child with valentine’s stickers on his face waving to me, sirens in the background. It would have been easy to feel lonely. I pass an old man and I know him. He is a Russian icon painter and in the past he has painted me an icon, St. Pariskevia, the saint of womanhood and power. He is much older than I, much older than my parents, and even my grandmother. He tells me he is hurrying home to make a pork roast for his lover, that he must rush before his partner has a flamingo. It is quite funny how this man talks sometimes. He tells me he must rush and keeps me there for another ten minutes talking about orthodox saints, the difference between the Russians and Greeks, how in the winter I still look like I’m from the islands. The entire time I can feel the bridge swaying under us in the wind. The cars are stacked up and I feel lucky that with my two feet I will cross the bridge before the rest of them. The Russian man runs home to his lover.
I could have been so lonely today but I am not, I am looking upward into the grey. The sky is blank, it is white, it could be harrowed but today it is not, today it is windy, it is blowsy, and today the sky has some ambition. It is pushing through the winter, and suddenly I notice something red and shiny in the overcast.
I think to myself, it could be a new moon, but it is too small! I squint hard, for the object is blowing all over the place, looping up and down through the sky, whipped from one side of the sky to another. The wind settles down and I notice that it is a bright red balloon heart, and that it is so high up it is hard to tell the shape. I feel brighter because of it, and how lovely the grey sky offsets the shiny red color as it spins up and down past the hospital, over the bridge. I could have been so lonely but today I felt full.