ON THE ROAD WITH ROSE

1. OUTSIDE THE BOX

BY ROSALIE TIRELLA

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Jett. pics:R.T.

The magical hour of our journey. Jett seems to thrive in this in-between world. He loves to look out the car window and see the city lights at night …the world rolls by his blue eye and his brown eye and he’s curious. My little husky mix loves jumping on a just made bed and soaking up the air conditioning while I unpack our gear and turn the TV on to Turner Classic Movies. He meets all kinds of people who pat his geriatric head, and the little kids love his tail that always curls up like a little flag. At 14 1/2 years old, this is Jett’s last great adventure. With me and Lilac, of course!

A few of my friends are going their own way, too – and liking it. They’re way past caring what the world thinks of them. They are wise, know the score. They’re fine with being untethered, unfettered …at 60! We don’t give a da*n what you think of us! Freedom, baby! Freedom! It’s addictive!

Dorrie just bought herself a camper and told me she’s “glamping” in Barre and having a terrific time. Just Dorrie and her dogs in nature. No pesky people, no city stress…she left it all behind in her gorgeous Victorian in Worcester, which she plans to sell. Was it Emerson who urged us to: “Simplify, simplify, simplify” ?
…Dorrie’s friend is sailing up and down the East Coast in a smallish boat with her boyfriend. Their home? Their boat – and wherever they drop anchor for the night.

Is it COVID that has made us brave? Has liar Trump catapulted us into honesty? Has our dying planet made us want to live Hendrix’s lyrics? “Excuse me while I kiss the sky!!!”

My cousin – 61 – just became a dad. For the first time. He and his young wife have left their cottage in Western Mass and are “bouncing around” Massachusetts, their two-month baby in tow … along with their two little dogs. When we talked on the phone they were heading to their motel. My cousin left his great job at the hospital to focus all his attention on his new born baby whom he adores and can’t stand being apart from for more than two minutes. Maybe the nurses at work found this irresponsible, just “dropping out” like that. But my cousin has never sounded giddy on the phone. These days, at 61, with two hip replacements and his finances thrown to the wind, he sounds positively giddy!

And me, meeting Worcester County in a more personal way, seeing so many more people than I normally would … talking with strangers and learning their stories. Seeing the pain and seeing how we try to transcend the pain. Brave souls, me included! And wanting to write it all down …

2. PUPS AND HOME

BY ROSE T.

The early bird catches the dog park. Jett and Lilac love their romps (twice daily) in the park, though Lilac is getting a bit clingy. She seems extra protective of me these days. My smart girl.

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🏡🌸

I am more Jett – hyper and in-the-moment. Lilac is more thoughtful, almost wise. I think she dreams “HOME”! A few months ago, when I picked up some blankets and afghans from our old apartment on Blackstone River Road- and smelled their gameiness with a frown – Lilac wagged her tail furiously, dove onto the blankets which I had thrown onto the floor, and she rolled in them, reveling in the smell of our old apartment: HOME. This made me cry.

Lilac had seen the truth, our situation for what it is. Jett and I couldn’t have cared less about the ratty afghans. I think that’s because I have lived in crappy apts my whole life- and am unsentimental about all of them.. And for Jett, he adores me – really really loves me. I am the apple of his ice blue eye. To him, my beloved husky husky mix, ROSE = HOME. Rose is where his heart is. Lilac is attached, too, but not as intensely. With Jett it’s a primal thing. His mistress Rose is with him, so he is complete. He is Home.

Another discovery: seeing a city unfold its wings in the early morning. The truckers rousing in the DD parking lot…the homeless walkers stopping to put their knap sack and bags on the sidewalk – to repack, reorganize … take stock of their stuff. Important stuff. The new day lifts spirits…I go to the grocery store for fresh fruit and seltzer water. And to pee. I see my face in the big mirror by the door: I am old.

3. WEIRD STUFF AND YWCA EMPATHY

BY ROSE T.

Another night (saw a quasi fight break out at McDonald’s), another day (stay safe out there, all you traveling souls!) in my life …
Weird. In happier times I’d never think to wear cut-off blue jean shorts or buy a hamburger at McDonald’s special for Jett and Lilac. I feel guilty about doing both – so not me – but these trying days have made me do weird stuff.

Weirder still: I’ve just come to realize how few truly empathetic people are out there. The listeners. The soul soothers… You apply to SMOC, WCAC – Worcester’s premier social service agencies – re housing and your dire straights and…they do nothing. SMOC’s Chris Orcutt, the directors of WCAC barely acknowledge you, never return calls … But your gas station-owner buddy rises to the occasion- listens, hears you, gives that extra treat to the dogs…comes up with an apartment lead. While pumping gas. Always looks cute; these days his handsomeness is rounded with gentle concern when he talks with you. And last week he went out of his way to try to repair my jalopy so as to not slow us down

… Or take the front desk lady at the YWCA last night …A Hispanic lady sitting at the brandy new desk in the remodeled YWCA lobby. I was feeling grubby …needed a shower. I shower every day – to music courtesy of WUMB.ORG.

Making the shower ask is uncomfortable. Abby’s House is anti-dog. So are my relatives! Friends were busy with their Saturday nites. …But when I presented my hygiene conundrum to the front desk lady at the YW, she knit her brows and right away began working the problem. No, I wasn’t a Y member. Yes, I was smelly. Yes, I had toiletries. No, she didn’t have a towel to give me…And yet she moved quickly, talked with the maintenance girl and found me a family shower to shower in. I brought my make up and bath kit…laid out creme rinse, pretty soaps from Dorrie and had a luxurious shower at the YW at Salem Square last night. I dried my hair. Put on deodorant. Slathered on the moisturizer. Ahhh…

Now I could face the world with a modicum of confidence. Thank you, YWCA shower angel!
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On the road …

4. RED LIPSTICK AND BULKIES

BY ROSE T.

When the going gets rough, the tough get going … to the makeup display corner to buy red lipstick. Pretty tube. Nice rose-red color. No brush necessary – apply straight from the bullet.

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I’m in the Canal District, wearing my new red lipstick, but forget about the kiss – CRAVING a Widoff’s bulkie! Right now! The hot pillowy rolls just bought from Widoffs! For my mom on Lafayette Street! After Sunday mass …with my kid sisters and all the city’s church goers …now cued up in the bakery, holding tight to their snippets of paper with numbers on them- the ones they pulled out of the red dispenser when they entered Widoff’s. The counter girls – pretty kids from our high schools – will yell out your number and then it’ll be your turn to shout over the crowd of customers: 1 dozen bulkies – seeded!

Then the walk home…me eating a so soft, hot bulkie, torn in half, no butter (that’s for home) but still melt in your mouth delicious! Its poppy seeds are stuck between my teeth…I’ll eat two more, buttered, at home! This one’s for the road! My sisters will eat theirs at the kitchen table like good girls.

That’s what I’m missing now. Home in that wonderful Widoff’s Sunday Morning Scarfing Down a Bulkie after Mass.

Now we’ve got pot shops, hookah shops, tattoo shops, tapioca balls …in Widoff’s place. Instead of Lederman’s and Widoff bakeries and their tremendous freshly made bulkies, today I see some stupid hookah supply place with its big ugly hookah pipes – not bulkies!!! – in the display window! Lederman’s is now home to some ridiculously trendy exercise joint and a bo bo shake shack that I don’t evenunderstand. Never see any customers.

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Water Street

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Wistful for Lederman’s Bakery (and Widoff’s, right across the street!)

Miss my bulkies!