Yesterday was our ballet day, an annual spring tradition where I meet my mother at Grand Central Station in New York City and escort her to Lincoln Center where we join her cousin Robert for lunch and a ballet matinee.
Robert is seven years younger than my mother yet they grew up together (their mothers were sisters) and lived nearby, seeing each other often. Travels, work and life took them in different directions—my mother to Connecticut and farm life; Robert, an attorney, who lived and worked for many years in Atlanta. They’d get together at family events as schedules allowed.
Robert’s hobbled by illness and requires a walker, and my mother uses a cane to walk in public. This meet up is truly special. Robert insists on treating us to the day; he purchases tickets well in advance and also books the restaurant.
After a sumptuous lunch at Lincoln, we settled into our seats at the Metropolitan Opera House, awaiting the curtains opening to the American Ballet Theatre’s afternoon performance of three ballets, Les Sylphides, Jardin Aux Lilas, and Rodeo, featuring African American ballerina Misty Copeland.
Of course, the ballets were wonderful. Music, dance, costumes and sets.
I remembered how my mother used to take me and my sister to the ballet when we were kids. The trip to NYC by train from Connecticut was always an adventure. We’d take the subway and sometimes meet my mother’s Aunt Sylvia (Robert’s mother) at Bonwit Tellers, where she worked. She loved to show us off and we’d take advantage of her discount. While I don’t recall individual performances, I know the applause and copious curtain calls that brought the dancers outside the curtains impressed me.
After the performance, we attempted to hail a taxi. One driver stopped but when he saw that two passengers required assistance and extra time, he left us at the curb. We finally got a cab and the two cousins sat together in the back seat, talking the entire time as if neither years nor distance had ever separated them. Robert even asked the driver if he’d just drive them around a bit more; alas, it was the end of his shift.
I escorted my mother to the platform and saw her safely onto the train.