Because, Really, What Actually *Is* For the Faint of Heart?

A photograph of total strangers on a Facebook page for parents-with-teenagers-finishing-high-school-and-moving-toward-whatever-their-next-step-as-they-launch-into-adulthood popped up on my newsfeed. The “members only” page focuses one of the (many many many many) complicated times in the lives of kids and their parents – if you’ve ever had a teenager you know of what I speak –  and is often an excellent source of guidance, support and advice, usually positive.

The picture: a tuxedo-clad teenager flanked by his parents; his height nearer to his mother’s than his dad’s, all three smiling comfortably into the camera. In the background, a cluster of similarly dressed guys and a gaggle of girls in brightly colored gowns and intricate up-dos posing for cameras furiously clicking away from every direction.  The boy/young man had delicate features, impressively clear skin, and a pubescent beard which was spotty but worn with great pride. The white boutonniere on the lapel of his (most definitely) rented tux had likely been pinned on by his date as it was slightly askew, slightly oversized and slightly misplaced.  A snapshot of a moment that many parents will experience with their children this time of year: the high school prom.

At first blush, this photo memorialized a scene played out on lawns and living rooms across the country this time of year, right down to the tissue for wiping tears away (not so) discreetly clutched in the mother’s hand.  But it was not the photo, rather the mother’s caption that set it apart from all the other prom images.

“Prom. Our great kiddo who looks so handsome. This transgender journey we are on is not for the faint of heart.”

Even before the caption confirmed my suspicions, my keen and sensitive-to-these-things self spied many of the hallmarks of the gender transition that others might have missed: the shape of his legs, the gentle density of his eyebrows, his delicate bone structure.  I noted the lack of pronouns: my “kiddo” and not my “son”.[1]  Intrigued, I examined the photo more closely.  I explored their body language with a different eye.  The smiles were definitely real.  Their arms rested on one anothers shoulders naturally, their bodies as close to one another as possible.   But most importantly, there was quite clearly a lot of love in that picture.  That, my friends, cannot be faked.  Bravo to all three of them, because mom is right: this is not for the faint of heart.

And then, with the knowledge (and firsthand experience) that things could get ugly when one posts a photo like that, I hesitantly glanced at the comments…all 135 of them. Much to my relief and pleasure, each note was more positive and accepting than the one before it.  The assemblage of rainbow and heart and smiley face emoticons exceeded my greatest (albeit conservative) expectations.  Oh, and did I mention the 1.1k likes? That’s some pretty awesome stuff right there.


My initial reaction was: How cool that this was posted not on a Parents/Friends/Neighbors/Teachers of Transgender Kids kind of page, rather a plain old parents’ page.  Even just a few years ago, posts like this were found only on private, and thereby “safe”, Facebook groups.  The world wasn’t anywhere near as ready as it is now to tolerate such a loud and proud display of the uniqueness of their family.  Some folks still cannot, but we are definitely making moves in the right direction.

My very-soon-after-that reaction?:  While it is no doubt (truer than) true that the transgender journey is not for the faint of heart, I’d further argue, advertise from the rooftops even, that being the parent along for the journey of any kid is not only not for the faint of heart, but just fucking hard.  There, I said it.


The other night, I was doing what many of us moms do at the end of the (probably somehow taxing) day: playing Words with Friends, listening to the bedtime routine happening outside my door and half-tuned into “American Housewife” a silly little sitcom narrated by a “strong-willed mother raising her flawed family in a wealthy town filled with perfect wives and their perfect offspring[2].”  The show is perfectly mediocre but does manage to capture some of the moments that spur less than charitable, but crazy honest thoughts about other parents, their kids and the whole parenting experience.   I cannot tell you the plot line of the episode, but there was one spot on, couldn’t-have-said-it-better-myself line that I could hardly wait to share with my morning coffee friends:

“Kids should come with a warning: Don’t have kids.”

A tongue-in-cheek comment that resonates with anyone ever who (is honest about having) tried to help a kid navigate the world.  And, if someone says it doesn’t resonate with them, I’m calling bullshit.  In fact, it is so spot-on that I am (sort of) seriously considering having t-shirts printed. Who wants one?

I’ve always been a somewhat irreverent mom, never reacting with “not my kid”, rather assuming, sometimes unfairly, that it was my kid.  That is not to take away from the proven fact that I am among the fiercest and most rabid advocate for my kids, because Lord knows I am.  I also, however, am very well aware of what my kids are all about, where they excel and where they suck.  Over the years, they have thrilled me, angered me, amazed me, embarrassed me, impressed me and made me want to leave them by the side of the road…sometimes in the same afternoon day.  Seriously, raising kids is really not for the faint of heart.

When I assumed the role of step-mother, I more than just doubled the number of children in my life.  I doubled the number of journeys for which I would have a ring-side seat.  I doubled the number of issues (although -and I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing – we actually have some overlaps), doubled the challenges, doubled the worry, stress, fears and anxiety. The fact of the matter is that there are many (many many) days that the “transgender journey” is decidedly the easiest journey of them all.

I love all the kids.  I appreciate how bright, interested, talented, inquisitive, resilient and strong each of them is.  I am profoundly and painfully aware that all of them watched their dads move out, were forced to leave the only home they’d known and have watched their parents fall in love with someone other than their mom/dad.  I will not pretend to know what that feels like.  My parents were nearing their 50th anniversary when my father died.  When we moved from my childhood house, we did so as a unit.  And, since my father’s death nearly twelve years ago, my mother’s not fallen in love with another man.  So, parenting this group of kids?  That, my friend, is not for the faint of heart.

I keep revisiting that photo of strangers with whom I know I share at least some experiences.  I wonder what other challenges, journeys and stresses they have faced.  Which have they nailed and which have come dangerously close to taking them out? Am I reading the body language right, is it telling the whole story?  What effect has the “transgender journey” had on their marriage?  Have they found themselves sitting in the car on a freezing cold night, devouring an ice cream cone as big as their head, crying and wondering how on earth they were going to survive?  Or run away from home…even if just for a night? Or wondered if it would be okay to sit in the corner and suck their thumbs?  Not that I have done any of those things…

My father used to say that he loved his children equally but not the same.  I took that to mean that I was his favorite.  But the longer I parent, the better I understand what he meant.  Our kids are all different so we have to tread lightly treat them different.  There is plenty of love to go around, it might just be delivered in a different package because, as they say, this parenting thing isn’t for the faint of heart.

[1] This is a funny thing that, unless you have a transgender kid, you’ve likely not thought about.  No matter how entirely accepting you might be of your child’s transition, it is often really hard to switch from son to daughter and vice versa.  I personally found the name change easier to embrace.  I adore Jess, but seldom refer to her as my daughter.  It’s just one of those things…

[2] IMBD

Bad Ass-est Birthday Ever


I know, I know…I am not 38 – although I am sure I cried on 4.1.03 -, but when I googled “bad ass birthday image”, this came up…and I absolutely positively had to use it. 


My 30th birthday.  Otherwise known as the-first- documented-birthday-that-I-would-spend-crying, an activity which would continue, to varying degrees, for twenty years.

I was a new mom to Harrison who was, by all accounts a good baby.  He ate and burped when he should, slept like a champ and generally led a very sweet life.  I was living in a nice house with a good zip code (which actually mattered to me back then), was in an okay – just keepin’ it real – marriage, had two wonderful, healthy parents, awesome brothers and more friends than I could number.  Yet, I spent the entirety of my 30th birthday crying.  Like ugly, heaving, sobbing, iguana eyes crying.  All day long.  When asked, repeatedly, why I was so upset, I could not answer to anyone or, more to the point, myself.

Little did I know that I had just launched what would become a twenty-two  year tradition.


Anyone who lived in Boston at the time will most definitely recall The April Fool’s Day Blizzard. It was damn ridiculous.  And, just in case you were wondering, let me tell you what it was like in my house that day.  It was a Tuesday and this full time working girl had, along with the rest of the folks at her office, been given a snow day.  Of note, back then, when you were granted a snow day it was really a day off: no tele-or video-conferencing, no constant email checking…just a legit freebie day off.  Woot woot, right?  Yeah, not exactly.

I had a completely miserable, horrible, pray for death head cold and had not one appropriate drug in the house to treat it.  Harrison, still on the tail end of his diaper days (yeah, my kids would still be in diapers if it was socially acceptable) was having some (gruesome, gross and frequent) digestive issues which, if not bad enough by itself, I – for the first and last time ever – ran out of diapers.  Well, aside from snow plowing, husbands are generally good for going out in the storm to pick up essentials (ice cream counts) and my husband was no different.  Butttt, before he could go, he had to fire up the ol’ snow blower to clear the driveway.  It’s all fun and games until two of the tires Fall. Right. Off.  But that’s okay – we didn’t have any gas, anyway.

So yes, I spent my 32nd birthday crying all day.

4.1.98, 4.1.99, 4.1.00…

No need for anything dramatic…just cried.


Lordy lordy looks who’s forty.  Yes, I had a great party.  And, yes, everyone that mattered to me was there.  However, cancer had been running rough shod through my family – my father was dying, my father-in-law had recently died and I had just had my final reconstructive surgery from my own cancer.  Great food, great friends…cried most of the day.

4.1.06, 4.1.07, 4.1.08…

Cried every year.

(Fun fact:  a few weeks after my first birthday with Barry (what a mess), my ex-husband asked him if I’d cried.  Barry asked why he hadn’t been warned.  It was a test, I guess.  Thankfully he passed.)


Best birthday ever.

A month ago, I put out a call to my village: Let’s try to collect 104 gift cards to be distributed to transgender kids who, for one reason or another (asshole parents comes to mind) are out there fending for themselves, trying to navigate a world that it just beginning to understand and accept who they are.  I’d never really asked for a particular birthday gift before and, truthfully, it wasn’t even that I was suddenly wise enough to have made a conscious decision to take control or get ahead of the birthday cry…I just wanted to do something, anything, for these kids.

Well, the tally at close of business yesterday is 218 cards valued at $3,575 from 80 different families, in 16 states and the UK, 24 of whom I have never met and/or heard of,


I know that there are others en route to me.

And guess what…not a tear all day.  Not one.



For years, my brother David has run a nonprofit organization called Big Sunday whose tagline is:

Absolutely EVERYONE has some way that they can help someone else.

Yes, indeed.  But, and this is important, the feeling you will get helping someone else will lockdown your own happiness.

I want for nothing.  I need not a single thing.  I am ridiculously blessed. This was the best birthday gift ever.

This was a no-cry birthday.  The love, support, kindness and final outcome of my little campaign is going to help change lives.  It has certainly changed mine.

Thank you for your generosity.

Thank you for being in my life.

Thank you for supporting my kid.

And thank you for breaking my streak of tearful birthdays. 

p.s. At the end of this week, the cards will be delivered to Boston GLASS and Bridge Over Troubled Waters wonderful organizations that serve kids who are not nearly as fortunate as yours and mine.  If you still want to send a card, awesome.  You can also donate or volunteer with them directly. ❤

152 200 116 & Thanks

This is what 152 gift cards look like.


Now I want to make it to 200.

I have a date with Beth on April 7 to give her the cards which she, in turn, will be getting into the right hands, so we have time!

So…ya think we can we do it?!?

To the 116 families who have already sent cards: I have such gratitude for your incredible generosity and kind notes.  But I am not a hero – you all are.  All I did was make a request.  You all did the heavy lifting.

And to the folks I’ve never even met…a very special thank you.

Fun fact: Cards have arrived from Massachusetts, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Washington, Alabama, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Michigan and, my personal favorite: England (as in the UK) from a long time reader and crazy cool person, Caroline. ❤

I am so blessed to have surrounded myself with awesome ladies, gentlemen and those who’ve not yet decided.

❤ ❤ ❤


A Stepson, Some Gift Cards & A Running Commentary

“These kids are going to feel so blessed…”

  • Max, age 11 as he organizes the gift cards


“I’ve never seen so many gift cards other than in a store!”

  • Max, age 11, still organizing the gift cards


“It is amazing how many people who care out there.”

  • Max, still age 11, still organizing the gift cards

“Darn it!”

  • Max, age 11, among a pile of gift cards, when the calculator he was using to add up the total value of all the cards crashed

“We are already at $295!”

  • Max, getting ever closer to 12, while adding up the value of the cards, this time on the computer

“It’s amazing that everyone would give this much support to these kids.  It’s amazing!”

  • Max, 11, who has grown an inch since he started this little project.

“$1,940 so far!  But a bunch of the cards didn’t have amounts on them…so I’m guessing we are over $2,000!!”

  • Max, who has an enthusiasm for this that warms my heart


Max, who will be 12 in May, was just 8 when Jess came into his life and he learned what it means to be transgender.  Didn’t care then.  Doesn’t care now.

Our original goal of 104 has been met and crushed.  But…my birthday is not for another two weeks, so keep ’em coming! 

And Max: it isn’t just these kids who are feeling blessed…

We’re Not Talking Ketchup Here


Thank you,   Marc H., Cheryl N., Deb F., Kristen M., Gail S., and Carolyn P.

I only know one of you personally.

You are from Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and North Carolina.


We are better than halfway there.

And my heart is full.

Rock on ladies, gentlemen and those who’ve not yet decided.


Oh, To Be 39

One week.

39 gift cards.


So far.

From Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York.



Generous souls.

Bad ass mamas, dads, sisters, brothers, friends, acquaintances and strangers.

Less than halfway there, but we will make it.

Love to everyone thus far: Heather K., Shelley B., Nicole F., Lori K., Patricia B., Jennifer N., Lori B., Harriet S., Michelle C., Robin F. and Joy S.

These kids need us.

We can do this.

Rock on, ladies, gentlemen and those who haven’t yet decided.


Bad Ass Happy Birthday To Me

With her tattoos, piercings and short crop haircut, she didn’t look like the other moms at the JCC pool.  Over the course of that first summer, we repeatedly found ourselves standing together, water up to our waists, as my two- and her three boys circled around us in the water; each one of them, at any given moment, needing to be reminded to stop splashing or stop jumping or stop staying under the water too long or stop swimming toward the deep end or leave your brother alone.  At first we just exchanged glances of empathy at just how exhausting (these particular) kids were, but soon we were pinch hitting for one another in watching, disciplining and allowing the other to have a quick break, even if only to use the ladies’ room.  It wasn’t long before we were actual friends.

As our friendship developed I was 100% certain that Beth was the coolest person I had ever known.  A self described “big ol’ lesbo” she was unflappable in the face of kids being kids.  Her story gaga-ed me:  three sons, all of whom she had birthed, being raised by her and two coupled gay men, all living together in one (totally cool) house.  There was not a single question I posed to her that she wasn’t willing to answer…and I asked plenty.  (Shut up, like you don’t want to know the mechanics of her getting pregnant!)

That was the summer that my 5 year old son had fashioned a mermaid tail out of shirts or towels or Lord knows what, and was elated to be traversing the pool, tail attached, enjoying a happiness that often eluded him.  He freakin’ loved that tail.  The lifeguards and other parents, however, felt differently.  Before I knew it, this benign mermaid tale was an official issue which, as I am sure you can imagine, I was not going to cave to.  Despite it not being her battle, Beth was right there alongside me voicing her ardent displeasure that a (supposedly) family friendly place was trying like hell to thwart a kid being  a kid because it made them uncomfortable.  It was then that I determined that, not only was Beth the coolest person I know, but she was now my idol.  I credit her with teaching me how to vehemently advocate for my kid without appearing all together rabid or unglued.  And, not for nothing; we won that battle.

When she isn’t in the pool with the kids (or cooking, or Soul Cycling or mentoring or getting a new tattoo or saving someone from themselves or being a kick ass mom or cracking me up) Beth is a therapist.  She works for this organization protecting, embracing and celebrating people who are, by big world definition, “on the fringe”, yet, by compassionate human being standards,  no less worthy of love, support, joy and acceptance than anyone else.  Right?!

Last year, as her birthday was approaching, Beth was acutely aware of the many blessing in her life and knew that she neither wanted nor needed any gifts.  So, in her never-ending marvelousness, she went on social media and requested that anyone who was able or inclined to, please purchase gift cards to be distributed to her client base, most of who find every day a struggle.  In keeping with it being her 51st birthday, she set a goal of receiving and then distributing 51 cards. Because she is so badass, she was sent, wait for it… 120 cards!  Seriously, how much of da bomb can one person be?!?


Fast forward to this week when our (what’s the opposite of esteemed?) POTUS flexed his “muscles” and proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he is decidedly not everybody’s President by rescinding President Obama’s rule to protect transgender students’ bathroom use.  Aside from the strong and reasonable arguments that no one checks for penises or vaginas in the stalls of bathrooms, that this is no more about bathrooms than it was about water fountains and, really, who cares who is peeing next to you, his placing his signature (more on that here, just the first of 21,000,000 results when Googled) on the executive orders changed everything.

Under the best of circumstances, transgender kids do not have it easy.  They face ridicule and prejudice and hate and danger every single day.  They have an inordinately high rate of suicide. Many have parents and families who find the transition so intolerable that they throw their child, part of them, out of their homes.  It ain’t good, folks.

As I way lying in bed the other night, having chatted a bit with Jess about how this will change her world – she is fortunate to live in a state and town that is very accepting of her – I noted that she felt angry but not afraid.  With a healthy embrace of the arrogance of youth, any true fears she has about going to the bathroom in public are minor and, given where we live,  easily remedied, but not so for many others around the country.  And that really pisses me off.

What does this all have to do with Beth you ask?  Fair question.

My birthday is about a month away.  I need nothing.  I want nothing.  I am fortunate that I’ve got the people, love and things that I need and I have them every hour of every day.  Too damn many trans kids do not.  So, I texted Beth and asked her, “if I were to collect gift cards for transgender kids who are on the street or in trouble or struggling…could you get them in the right hands?”  Her immediate response:



I love you.


So now I ask you, dear reader: Can you help me reach my goal of collecting 104 cards (that’s 52×2) for these kids who only want to live authentically, freely and, most important, safely?

Getting the cards to me:  Please send me a note in the comments section and I will give you my address.

Note: I still need to ensure that my child and my family are safe because, as crushing as it is to admit, there are so many assholes out there who have nothing better to do than to worry about what is between someone else’s legs and what they are doing with it.  (Ewwww).  That being said, if there are more than a few people that I do not know who want to participate, I will look into securing a PO box somewhere which, I realize, would be a good problem to have.

Stay strong mamas and papas.  Love your kids, no matter if they sit or stand, love the same or opposite sex or scare you with their bravery.  We’ve got this.

Oh, and Beth; I love you, too!

Not So Sweet Valentine’s Day

It started with pillows – lots and lots of pillows – configured much more precisely than I would have guessed, aimed to support your body in such a way as to allow your mind to open up.  As the newbies in the room, we observed how the others had situated their pillows but despite our best attempts to clone their structures, we were unsuccessful. In the spirit of the event, assistance was graciously offered and gratefully, albeit a bit ashamedly, accepted. We now had our well-built little havens and were absorbing the indisputable Zen of and in the room, yet I felt a little anxious already: if I couldn’t manage to set up a stupid pile of pillows and felt too self conscious to ask for help, perhaps I had bigger issues than would be addressed in the next hour and a half.  Gee.

Colorful Meditation Pillow

That exercise, I now realize, was actually the beginning of the “letting go” phase of our morning.

Once we had achieved the appropriate positioning, the fact remained that neither Barry nor I had a clue as to what to expect. We were equal parts excited, anxious and hopeful…although Barry less so on all counts.  Yet here we were about to experience my Valentine’s Day gift to Barry: getting hypnotized to get off of sugar.  Romantic, huh?  (I know, I know…leave it to me to give a gift of getting off sugar…particularly in recognition of a holiday based on, um, sugar?)

The first 45 minutes were spent discussing just how much sugar sucks (duh)(but a buzz kill nonetheless) followed by what was going to happen to and for us, what hypnosis is and is not and, finally, what it seeks to accomplish.  It was during this portion of the introduction that my vision of a swinging watch and a, “you’re getting sleepy” intoning were dashed, yet my anxiety over “losing control” were quelled.  Barry and I exchanged a few glances of shared skepticism, but now that we had our killer pillow set-up there was no turning back.

So there I laid upon a pile of cozy blankets, ensconced in pillows, my great sport of a husband within arms-reach, ready to succumb to a power bigger than I who, if I am lucky, was going to get me to forgo the sweets and, as a result, lose the paunch I’ve managed to acquire.

Let’s do this!

The instructor, um, hypnotist, explained that the outcome of our session would be less a fireworks “aha moment”, rather it will be more like you flipped a switch (in your subconscious) and would notice at some point over the next several days and weeks that, hey, look at that: I don’t have any desire to gorge on ice cream, Snickers Bars, coffee drinks that are more mocha than java, cookies, pie…you know, all the good stuff.   As someone who is famous for taking a long time to flip a switch[1], this quick version was very appealing.  Just lying there, in anticipation of having the recesses of my subconscious poked and prodded, I already felt thinner, less bloated and empowered.  C’mon, sub conscious, show me what ya got!


During the actual hypnosis part of the program – it lasted 32 minutes, but felt more like 10 – I was aware of my arms and legs feeling so weighted down that they were rendered immobile.  I squirmed some as I tried to adjust my back to the floor[2]  and was thisclose to falling asleep (which actually made me a little anxious as I did not want to lose out on being hypnotized because I was snoozing), but all in all I would describe the experience as peaceful, gentle,  liberating.  However, as we all “came to” I felt simultaneously enervated and energized, disbelieving and unhesitatingly assured of the power of hypnosis and somehow “different.”  I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I did put hand to belly to see if the pounds I’d gained from sugar had melted away whilst I was under and, I swear, was actually more surprised than disappointed that they hadn’t.  Weird, right?

As we collected ourselves and began the process of rising, deconstructing our pillow sanctuary and re-entering the world, I turned to Barry and, because I know him so well, gathered from his expression and body language that he’d not experienced things quite the same way I had.  Of note, and germane to the conversation, Barry has two states of being: 1. running around accomplishing and, 2. sleeping.  He is a living breathing Energizer Bunny who has never done yoga[3] or meditated or really even relaxed (it is truly part of his charm) so add that to the discomfort in his just two month post-op back[4], and I’d argue that his hypnotizability is harder to accomplish, but time will tell.[5]


We are now 48 hours PH[6] and I’ve not eaten, or perhaps more to the point, wanted to eat anything sweet.  As in anything.  No ice cream, no sugar (or mocha) in my coffee, no cinnamon sugar on toast, no hard candies, no Diet Coke (fake sugar…just as bad).  I am feeling, in the words of my friend Kim who, not for nothing, turned me onto this whole hypnosis thing, BADASS.


I spent most of yesterday in the house as we entertained yet another snowstorm/school snow day.   In my PH[7] days, I’d have baked something, made mocha-y coffees, enjoyed ice cream (but right from the carton and standing up in front of the freezer, so it didn’t count) and probably have popped a few M&Ms (perhaps more than a few and perhaps several times throughout the day).  Instead, and with not as much as a consideration of any of the above, I enjoyed (no, really, I enjoyed them) fresh snap peas and carrots, several bowls of berries and unsweetened tea and actually surpassed the recommended eight glasses of water per day we are all supposed to drink.  What the even?!!?  Most notable: these things tasted better, I felt better and I did not feel deprived or, perhaps most wonderful, pissed off!

I woke up this morning feeling pretty pleased with myself, more specifically my subconscious, for doing its damn job and beginning to get me off sugar.  And, because I am an idiot who wants instant gratification, I thought it would be a good idea to weigh myself.  Here is some video of how that went:

Me and the scale

If you were to ask me today if I would do it again: Hell to the yes.

Got something you want to get hypnotized for?  Let me know…I’m kinda dying to do it again.

[1] Yes, I do take an embarrassingly long time to flip (mostly emotional) switches; however, once I do…I never look back.

[2] Note to self: next time, and there will definitely be a next time…no more holding onto shit way longer than necessary, anyone?…I will add one more pillow under the small of my back.

[3] I’d actually pay good money to see that. I love you, Barry.

[4] Poor guy hurt his back – opening a drawer of his dresser – on Memorial Day weekend and suffered with it until it was surgically repaired just before Christmas. 

[5] Not throwing him under the bus, but he did kinda eat a cookie when we got home.  No judgment.

[6] Post hypnosis

[7] Pre hypnosis


It was toward the end of one of our infamous date nights.  We’d enjoyed a ton of food for very little money at one of the few Chinatown restaurants we had not yet tried.  Barry was particularly jubilant at having found a $20 bill on the floor with no one around to claim it.  He stuck it in his pocket with a solid plan for after dinner to completely  overindulge ourselves with goodies from the bakeries lining the street.


We dodged the snow and slush, darting in and out of the various bake shops, trying to remember which had the best red bean paste buns and who killed it with their sesame balls, Barry sampling everything with his signature excitement over all things edible.

As we headed to the subway to make the trip home (we’d met at Barry’s office to which I had taken the train…so not my thing) we stayed in step with the foot traffic through downtown, holding hands both as a show of affection and protection from wiping out.  As we scooted past a doorman escorting a guest into an upscale hotel, a man on the street joked with Barry, “Hey, man, whatchya doing with my girl?”  Always affable Barry, stealing a page from my playbook responded, “Want her?”  Laughter ensued.

As we engaged in friendly banter, the stranger shooed us past the hotel doors, mumbling something about “the rich folks at the hotel getting mad if he loiters around.”  We stopped a few feet away and got to know Eddie.  His first remark, “Please don’t judge me.”

He sleeps under a bridge.  He has a son in college.  His wife overdosed, although he did not specify on what.  On at least a half-dozen occasions he looked to the sky and thanked Jesus for what he still had left.

“We are no different” he said and we agreed.

I asked him what happened.

Eddie, it turns out, lost his temper and hit someone with a shovel.  We didn’t pry, but gathered that his victim did not fair well from the attack. Upon telling us, he dropped his gaze, waiting for us to judge. We felt empathy rather than judgement.

He had an easy smile, and, if we are being honest, the not so faint smell of alcohol on his breath.  I asked him if he was hungry.  He responded silently but clearly and Barry, without fanfare or discussion, slid him the $20 bill he’d found earlier in the evening. So, too, did he give him a warm hat that he had in his pocket. Eddie’s eyes shifted, dropped and glistened as he graciously accepted the offer.

Much to my pleasure and amusement, he’d been good-naturedly ribbing Barry about my fantasticness and his (Barry’s) incredible good fortune in landing me.  Silently noting my arrogance at the banter, he did the dude thing and tossed Barry a (well deserved) bone: “You know something, Julie, if I were to put on a dress, I would look better than you.”  (Well that stung, but I have to give him props for having impeccable timing.)  Again, we all burst out laughing, strangers in the street.

As I always do, I asked if we could take a picture.  He happily obliged, thanking us for treating him like a human and for bringing joy to his life.  As I was about to snap the photo he joyfully announced, “Just remember, Julie, once you go black you never go back.”


He said we made his day.  He actually made ours.