When we met on a temp job, Barbara and I were starting over from zero. Both broke, we went from one free art gallery to another, telling our divorce stories to each other. We included our Fathers in the list of Men Who Had Not Understood Us. Neither of us had brothers. We knew that we had been disappointments in not being born male.
In this seesaw of amateur therapy, we found real jobs and success. Eventually her company was downsizing and Barbara took a nice lump sum “buy-out”. Now a sophisticated San Franciscan, she was returning to
Ohioin triumph to realize her dream of a career in the Arts.
That Easter we decided to dress up and brunch. Sight unseen, I suggested Thiggy’s Restaurant at Lincoln Park Golf Course so we could visit the Legion of Honor Museum nearby.
The worn and timeless look of the 1940’s clubhouse reminded me of Recreation Golf Course in
Long Beachwhere Dad had taken me as a child. He would “hit out a few balls” and I would bask in the atmosphere, pretending I was one of the bronzed women striding past in visor caps.
I went to Recreation’s clubhouse after Dad’s death. I wanted to be with him in the way he had been on the golf course when I was little – before our differences emerged in my teens.
Powdering my paleness at Thiggy’s long bathroom mirror, I listened as cleats announced the entrance and exit of tanned non-brunchers. Hearty greetings to each other echoed across the black and white geometry of tiles.
A novice waitress filled our water glasses with champagne. We toasted the repeated stories of our emergence as independent women. We vowed never again to lose our self-respect in bad relationships. We described our imagined selves in five years’ time when we would meet again, more gloriously successful than either of us dared dream.
As we left, I watched a slow putt dip into the hole on a verdant green and a foursome comment encouragingly: “Nice one.” “Good shot.” How civilized it all seemed! My ex-husband’s game had been football. Each season I heard shouts of “Kill him!” directed at the TV.
Climbing up the hill to the museum, we paused to look at the rolling greens, smelling of damp eucalyptus. I found myself talking of my Father as I remembered him at the golf course – describing a patrician rather than an autocrat.
Off the path a bit, a perfect white Titleist Golf Ball was sitting in a circle made by tree limbs lined with dried grass and leaves. For all the world it looked like an egg in Nature’s Easter Basket.
We made much of this synchronistic symbol and reassured each other that our friendship would not be lessened by distance.
Last Easter, the jewels of Cartier were on view at the Legion of Honor. I wanted to arrive early to see these beautiful treasures without the crowds. Wearing gloves and a down jacket against the fog and wind, I watched tan legs in Bermuda shorts squat to line up putts, oblivious to the weather and the world.
Looking through the cypress to the bay and hills, I thought of my feelings toward my Father that had come out that Easter. I had been proud of him. I had wanted to be close but could never breach the expanse between our personalities. I wanted that feeling of being in Dad’s world again.
I had passed Thiggy’s several times over the years but had never gone inside again. I thought of the champagne brunch and the Golf Ball Easter Egg each time I passed. I went down the hill at once, realizing the memory of my Father as I wanted him to be was only present for me on the golf course.
Inside the clubhouse it was still 1947. The smells of grass, leather and men’s cologne lingered at the oak paneling of the trophy case. Childhood recollections of Dad flooded back to me. I had grown older, but in that atmosphere my memories were in situ.
I have learned to spend a little time once in a while on that path to the museum. I have healed the aches of many misunderstandings that my Father and I had when he was alive.
I see him now as a contemporary, not an elder, and I think I understand more of the world from his perspective.
Although she often forgot my birthday, my Mother gave me an Easter basket every year until she died. It was her favorite holiday. A Baptist, she said everyone could have a rebirth at Easter if they would only take the time to begin again.
I like to think the Titleist was Mom’s little reminder to me.