As the elderly gray-haired gays tittle-tattle at Joe’s Coffee shop on Commercial Street, making snide comments about those they like and those they don’t… like so many teenage girls, bullying, name calling and whispering. The lesbians remain dignified and polite. They say good morning or make easy conversation. They comment on the weather or ones choice of croissant in such a way that improves the quality of the day.
Not all lesbian are like this of course but my experience here in Provincetown is irrefutable.
We chanced upon a lesbian memorial at Herring Cove a few nights ago, a memorial for a woman who died last October. There were photographs of her set around the fire on sticks. I sat with her wife of 30 years and she reminisced. She told me their story. I wondered how she would cope on her own.
“Oh, you get used to it.” She said.
I didn’t believe her. Dude sat on her lap. She loved Dude and Dude loved her. We ate her Red Velvet gluten free cup cake and sprayed ourselves with insect repellent.
Last night I stopped for a slice of pizza with Brent and Derek, my crime fighting buddies.
We’d had a long day, I was up at 5am. I’d spent an hour or so on the phone with lawyers. I spent time answering emails. I filled in forms and scanned them. I made time to have a pair of sandals made here:
Like most days I walked the dogs in the graveyard with Benoit. I walked the dogs on the beach. I walked the dogs to Joe’s coffee shop. I walked the dogs to the West End and back east again. Dude is still fat. The Little Dog is lithe and eager.
I found a beautiful dusky gray/mauve tamarisk at Captain Jack’s Wharf.
Brent and I poked our noses into John Derian’s home/shop. His little shop of curiosities. He sells French glass cloche and rattan and decoupage. Who buys decoupage? Everyone apparently.
I ordered the slice of Pizza and sat with Derek. It was delicious. As I was leaving, I heard a Northern English accent. Two elderly women from Manchester… eating the largest pizza I have ever seen. They looked embarrassed.
They said, “This is too big for us, d’you want some?”
I overcame my English reserve and sat with them and ate their pizza. They were retired PE teachers from Bolton. They had lived together the past 15 years. They had a small house and garden and took the bus into central Manchester which, they assured me, was very safe and had loads to do.
I wanted to know what they were doing with their retirement.
They said they went to concerts and the theatre and sat outside ‘weather permitting’ enjoying Manchester’s ‘cafe society’. They rode their bikes and looked after their cats. Mostly they travelled, this year they had been to The Galapagos and seen the giant tortoise and snorkel with penguins, they had taken a safari in Africa and showered out doors under the stars. They had visited a brother in Sydney and driven to Melbourne along the coast, like I had with that beautiful boy… all those years ago.
I found myself talking about getting older.
“Old people aren’t the same as when I was growing up.” I wondered. “Yes,” they said, “Not the same at all.”
“They retired and spent time just waiting to die.” I said. “Yes.” They nodded in unison.
I told them about my grandmother who was widowed when she was in her 50’s and at that very moment became an old lady. Cut her hair short, permed it and let it whiten. She died when she was 96. I didn’t cry. My mother did, she sobbed like I sobbed when the big dog was killed. She was inconsolable, as was I about my dog.
I thought a great deal about my grandmother, chatting with these dear old lesbians. I wondered how she could have lived so long feeling so miserable, stuck in one town, complaining about this and that… isolated from all her daughters (how can a mother hate her own daughters?) other than my mother. I remembered just how much she didn’t want to die. She was terrified. I wondered if my uncle Norman killed her. There was little love lost between them and he was with her at the end. She would have been too weak to fight.
We said our goodbyes and good nights. I’m sure I’ll bump into them again. I hope I do. I wish I was an old lady.
The light is beautiful here today. The sea is sparkling. I want for nothing. Happily looking over the Atlantic, the Cape swinging around me teaming with life. Lobsters, basking sharks, oysters, cod and herring. I had fish and chips for lunch yesterday.
Here are my finished sandals: