The Invisible Menu of Time
Every so often, I would spend a weekend at my Grandmother’s home. It was my favorite thing to do when I was a kid. I loved the place where she lived, and spending time with her meant a great deal to me. I was obsessed with her childhood, and, I guess I wanted to connect with the kid she once was, which I could only do through her stories. In addition, she was a great cook, which spoiled me by granting me the power to read her invisible menu. I always asked for whatever I pleased, and Grandma would make it for me.
She lived in an Art Deco building. I was fascinated by the brick glass windows, wrought iron gates, seemingly endless staircase, and beautiful cast bronze elevator doors that took me to her floor as if I was traveling in a time machine. She lived on the fifth floor, and this was always a concern to my mother. To me this was an expedition of visual beauty of wide-open hallways decorated with wrought iron railings. I remember following the railings down to each floor until it merged to a big terrace with black and white tiles that mirrored back to the thick opaque glass ceiling above.
My mother usually took me at my Grandmother’s home located in the center of the city. It was different from where we lived. We were at the end of the city in a quiet neighborhood with perfect gardens; hers was nested in among other buildings of various styles with tall isolated trees. I knew the ride from our home to hers by heart and so I would sit by the window following the clouds as they passed or watch at people’s faces as we zipped by.
When we arrived at Grandmother’s building and began walking towards the elevator, my mother would look me over to make sure I was in perfect order. Then she would say to me, “Ethel, please, during your stay at Grandma’s, don't get close to the windows or put a chair close to it to look outside.” I listened to my mother but I was too entranced with the intricate detailing on the elevator doors. “Ethel, did you listen to what I just told you?” “Yes, I will not go close to the windows unless grandma is with me,” I replied, and continued to look at the beautiful design and tracing it with my eyes. Then I said, “mom, lets take the stairway up to her floor!” My mother just looked at me. But I could not longer stand there waiting for the elevator to arrive on the first floor. “Please mom, I want to see grandma!” As she was about to respond probably with a big “no”, the elevator doors suddenly opened and my grandmother was right in from of us! “Grandma you came down to greet us!” She hugged me tight and gave me a big kiss. Then she said, “My love, have you thought of tonight’s menu?” I looked first at my mother and then to my grandmother before replying “I have to read it first grandma!” My mother smiled and left us to it, knowing that I was going to be just fine. The elevator doors closed behind us, and once again, time became invisible when I spent it with my grandmother.