Buried under half used notebooks, loose scraps of paper, and an assortment of paper clips I found an old telephone book.
Alternative Beauty Parlor—where the owner brought her dog to work and convinced me to highlight my hair with a blond shade that turned red.
Dot B. who mentored me when I first started teaching in a school for children who couldn't attend their public schools because their problems were too complex. "Remember," she told me," that each of our children, no matter how difficult, is someone's child — and loved."
Miriam C. who also worked at the same school once called me up in the middle of the night to talk about cows.
And who was Monica D.? How does someone get into my phone book—even it was a long time ago. Was it the person who gave me her phone number and address because we had a conversation over coffee because we shared a table? Did I ever call her?
An eye doctor who died way too young.
Miriam F. who was a docent at a museum in Washington D.C., painted plum blossoms, and instead of wallpapering her bathroom pasted postcards all over the wall.
Mary G, from Germany, who I met at a writer's conference where she fell in love with a woman from Gulfport, LA. Their love lasted for ten days and then she returned to her husband in Berlin.
My cousin Bobby H. called one day to tell me she had a brain tumor. I drove to White Plains to see her and we spoke about living in the Bronx. We spent the day driving around old haunts where graffiti, like a vine, climbed the brick exterior of my old apartment building.
No one is listed—an absence that can't be amended.
Dr. J, a gynecologist with a shock of white hair.
Once I had a friend who asked me to visit her friend, Natalie K, who was at a Boston Hospital being examined free of charge. It's never good when the medical establishment doesn't charge you anything.
Linda L. attended the same writing workshop that Mary from Germany attended. She lived in Italy —although she originally came from Cleveland— and taught English to the locals. She taught me how to peel an avocado without bruising the tender flesh.
Marrone's Bakery served the best raspberry twists and slices of pizza. It's also where the man who owned a pig farm hung out. "We move the pigs," he said, "during the night so the locals aren't disturbed seeing a truck of pigs wending its way down the main street."
New Words Book Store was a woman's bookstore that attracted every newcomer to the city. I heard poets read their work—and felt empowered by the words I heard and read.
Sheila O. worked in the same school in a small town. She was old fashioned and strict—so strict that parents complained and kids went to the nurse with stomach aches.
Melanie P., also went to the same writing workshop that Mary, from Germany, and Linda, from Italy, attended. She wrote poetry, lived in New york City and fell in love with someone who owned a ranch in Utah—where she moved. She wrote me a letter about the skulls she found.
I once thought I saw a skull that looked just like the one Georgia O'Keefe painted. We talked about the skull for twenty miles as we drove down a back road and then turned around and retraced our path. There in an arroyo —the skull, but it turned out to be an empty Clorax bottle.
Once upon a time the Quarterdeck restaurant served marvelous fish dishes, but they wouldn't let you share a meal. Perhaps that's why they went out of business.
Yolanda R. taught a class for children with problems and wanted to turn her home into a safe house for kids who can't survive in their homes. We never knew if she succeeded.
Pat S. lived in an apartment with a salt water aquarium that took up half the dining area.
Deborah T. set type in Rochester. She set up my only chapbook of poetry. I still like those poems especially the one about twelve women who try on a hat. Each woman becomes someone else as she dons the hat—shapeshifter hat.
Unicorn Bookstore. Years ago when everyone was into crystals and NewAge music the Unicorn sold incense, stones, and magic. I once bought a "powerful" stone promising protection from whatever was out there ready to pounce. The store closed at about the same point I found out that the stone was just a stone.
No items noted for V. Now I have a page of Vs—perhaps the letter has gained in popularity over the years.
Leslie from Gulfport—loved by Mary from Berlin—moved up North. She rode her bicycle everywhere, but the winter caught in her treads and she never thawed out enough to enjoy the North. "I'm a Southerner," she said, "things move too quickly here and they do it in frigid weather."
I never ever had a phone book with an annotated X page. I used the one in this book for doodles.
Only a doctor with a last name beginning with a Y. He wore bow ties and suspenders.
Irene Z., who attended the same writing workshop Mary, Linda and Leslie attended eventually bought a bookstore in the upper reaches of New York State. Until last year I drank tea in a cup she sent me—"So Many Books and Not Enough Time." By last year all that was left—" S Ma an No ou ook"
After "listening to the memories" I'll put the telephone book back under the notebooks, scraps of paper and loose clips.