Sunday, August 16, 2009
More Moments ... More Life
After D and I decided to part ways, my mom came to LA to help me apartment hunt. It wasn't the fun kind of "I'm so excited to be moving into a new place," type of hunt. It was the frantic, crazed home search you experience when you HAVE TO get out of your current living situation ASAP. By day three, we were emotionally exhausted and I found myself, through a deluge of tears, asking the Universe or God, or whoever is controlling this whole shebang, to please, please help me find a little one bedroom I could afford. True story: Not ten minutes later we drove past a really nice building with a 1BD for rent sign posted in front. While I thought it would be way out of my price range, I called. A well aged voice answered the phone and to my surprise, the apartment was just within my budget. We pulled over and asked to view the place right away.
As she opened the front door I could tell her life had been long and not always easy. Her face was painted with the softest, deep set wrinkles, that only time, laughter, and struggle can create. She wore a full face of makeup ... bright rose lipstick, dark rouge and haphazardly curled hair. Inessa was from Russia, we learned in the elevator ride up to the third floor. Her husband and she managed this 48 unit building, but he'd passed and now she did the job alone! We were shocked since she looked to be around 80. The Universe had responded pretty quickly to my plea and Inessa helped speed up the credit check process (though this building is notoriously hard to get into) after she heard about my breakup situation. She was clearly an angel sent to my rescue and declared herself my Russian Mother! I hugged her, eyes watering, lips smiling with relief.
It's now mid July. I move in and make her promise to call me when she needs a ride to the bank or grocery store because she doesn't drive. She tells me she has her "Mercedes" a.k.a. shopping cart that she pushes down the street to Ralph's Grocery! I'm in aw ... this precious lady is old, really old, and not only does she work full time, she walks to the market and back every week in the heat of summer. At first I feel sorry for her, but quickly I realize how happy this work and exercise makes her. "It is my life, you understand?" She asks me in a Russian accent thick like the best Borscht. "Yes," I smile. "I do understand." And all of a sudden I really do. In this life, as we age and ego fades, it's not what we do that makes us fulfilled and content. It's if we do, anything, and how we do it.
Inessa, while being the oldest apartment manager I've had, is by far the very best! The building is immaculately clean and she makes sure fix-it complaints are attended to within 24 hours maximum. It's amazing how hard she works and I can see it is the sole thing that keeps her going. She has a reason to get up and get out into the world. She has a purpose and she is proud. On top of all this, she dropped off homemade cream puffs to me last week! She is my new inspiration.
A few days ago, I drove her to the bank to deposit the rent checks. As she got out she told me to go, she was taking the bus home. I insisted on waiting. She insisted on taking the bus. I'm not one to argue with a Russian Grandmother so I said OK. As I watched her close my car door and walk into the bank, dressed in a pretty blouse and skirt, I experienced yet another MOMENT. Inessa is 80. Her husband died recently. She must work to stay in her home. She is 80. She accepts her life. She smiles, she bakes, she takes care of her tenants, and she inspires me to be "she" one day, if I'm lucky. The little moments in life are so wise. The simple person, so important.
With Gratitude for Inessa and Angels ~L~