Roger Ebert was in my dream last night.
I was seated in a movie theater, the old kind of theater with tall ceilings and seats that are not so cushy but comfortable enough to forget about it once the movie starts. I was seated a little more than midway down, just to the left of center. I held a large box of popcorn in my lap and was chomping away. I sat in the dark making those munching noises that annoy anyone sitting nearby.
I noticed an arm resting on the top of the seat in front of me, its hand almost in the bag of popcorn I was holding in my lap. The hand was wiggling a little, I thought perhaps adjusting itself to a more comfortable place. My eyes followed the jiggling hand down to the shoulder of the person. I recognized him from the back of his head, the boyish hair cut, and the corpulent body filling the seat. It was the corduroy jacketed arm of Roger Ebert. If he sensed my eyes on him from behind, he did not move, his chin remained slightly turned up looking directly at the screen in front of him.
But the hand kept jiggling, even more insistently. Finally, I got it. Of course. He wanted popcorn. And who wouldn’t? – I mean, if you were Roger Ebert, back in the body you remember, sitting at a movie? Who would deny Roger Ebert the joy of partaking again in that most satisfying and delicious pastime of eating popcorn at a movie in the dark; a pleasure he had lost years before with the onslaught of a disease that had destroyed the use of his mouth. And now he was back, and his hand was shaking at me like a child’s silently asking me to fill it with food. So I poured some popcorn into his hand.
The popcorn appeared smaller and little more weighted than real life popcorn, but that’s just one of those things that reminds you that you’re in a dream. But it’s also in that same moment when I realized how magical it was, to be in a dream that also felt so real, that made living feel so good, sort of like what movies do to us when we succumb to the darkness and let our minds be taken.
Roger never turned his head back to look at me in gratitude; his eyes never left the screen. He just kept looking directly at the flickering, mesmerizing light shining down on us.
I knew it was exactly what he wanted, and now he was truly happy, at peace. He was in
film critic heaven.
A Rose is a Rose
. . .
Hair Today, GreyTomorrow
Our second child, a girl, was born on May 16, 2000. She had such a perfectly beautiful round face, my husband Adam declared she was as lovely as a rose. She was the delightful result of combining two very different gene pools; the Jewish Ashkenaz of Poland on both sides of Adam’s parents, both raised in New York City and Miami, Florida, and the WASP with English and Welsh tones of my mother and father, raised in Savannah, Georgia and Greensboro, North Carolina, respectively.
Jack, our four year old son, had laid claim to his little sister many months before, when she was a baby inside mama’s large tummy. His preschool, situated in rustic cabins along Temescal Canyon in the center of Pacific Palisades, California, named each group of children in a cabin by a wild animal found in the area. Jack’s group was the Eagles. Upon learning he was to have a little sister, he proudly dubbed her “Little Eagle”. She was affectionately known by that name while in utero; in fact, we were so attached to that name we had great difficulty letting it go once she arrived.
To be fair to both sides of our larger family, it was Adam’s turn to name a child; both of Jack’s names were from my family. But as the days passed by in the hospital, and we pondered this beautiful little face while family and friends were impatiently calling to ask her name, and little old lady volunteers were showing up at our hospital door asking her name so they could craft a baby bracelet with her name on it, we were stumped. Nothing was sticking. Names were tossed around like movie titles on a Saturday night. The little old ladies were losing patience; finally we told them to make her bracelet with the name “Little Eagle” on it. It was the best we could do. Read whole essay....
. . .
Every woman goes through this at some point in their life. EVERY woman. I don’t care what kind of background, how successful or how homeless. And the question goes way back; we may think it only goes as far back as the Clairol commercials that asked “Does she or doesn’t she?” But we would be wrong. Women have been dyeing their hair since the days of Cleopatra. And now, in the 21st century as a large group of baby boomer women reach late middle age and the world continues to demand they work rather than retire, there is a moment, maybe just one moment for some, maybe years of contemplation for others, where each of us asks the question to ourselves: do I want my hair to be gray? And the question arises, as we face not only a return to work, but a shift in our images as women: do I want my hair (which is now gray anyway) to be gray? How will that affect my future success back in the working world? If I decide to stay gray, am I stepping on my own foot, or can I be a strong and resilient self and face my future with wisdom and grace?
I was an early inductee into the world of gray hair. My hair began to change in my thirties, as did my mother’s. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, working in the film business. Even in that city of perpetual youth, I was being told by men friends - above all else -DO NOT color my hair. They said they loved the strands that flecked my light brown hair. I did too, until two things happened: one, those lovely strands began to grow into more solid gray around the front of my head, and two, I became pregnant with my first child at the age of 39.