Girl Talk



Last week, I got to see my college BFF’s.  We’re lucky if we get together but once a year.  Phone calls and emails are mostly what sustain us.  Still, I continue to feel close to these women, despite the miles that separate us and the years spent apart.

All of them are married, and most are mothers; I am the only single one – the Dolce Zitella of the group.  And while I can’t know what it’s like to be a mother, watching my children grow and learn, or to have a husband and partner, helping me weather the inevitable tough times, they don’t know how it feels to buy a house by yourself or to walk into a wedding reception, or a funeral parlor alone.  Yet, they KNOW me and I KNOW them.

We share a common history, full of memories and funny stories.  But we don’t reminisce about the past because we’re far more interested in what each other has been up to lately.  So we talk about what really matters – our families, our work, our future plans – always picking up right where we left off, as if no time has passed.  Because these friendships are solid, there’s no pretense, no BS.  Except maybe when my BFF’s pretend not to notice I’ve gained a few pounds and tell me that I haven’t changed a bit.

This time around, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch, a decadent dinner, and a sunny day at the beach.  Shared a few secrets, offered some advice, and took a lot of selfies.  Whoever said “old friends are the best friends,” knew what she was talking about.

How long has it been since you’ve had a heart-to-heart with your BFF’s?  Planned a girls’ night out?  Or even better, a girls’ weekend?

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Best of Boston

Boston’s North End

Polcari's CoffeeThe North End is Boston’s Italian neighborhood.  Salem, Parmenter, and Hanover Streets are lined with restaurants and shops, all celebrating Italian culture, and more importantly, Italian cuisine.  I often go there on Saturday afternoons and, as I make my way from the cheese shop, to the fresh pasta store, from Polcari’s Coffee (where I get my spices), to Bova’s Bread, I am met with smiles and nods.  None of these merchants know my name; they call me figlia mia (daughter), bambola (doll), or bellezza (beauty).  Recognizing me as one of their own, the second and third generation Italian-Americans who live and work in this colorful neighborhood treat me like some kind of Mediterranean goddess.

Whenever friends visit from out-of-town, they always want to have dinner in the North End.  Then after some wine and good food, we walk about, as I point out the Old North Church, the statue of Paul Revere, and St. Leonard’s.  Afterward, we stop by a café for espresso and pastry or gelato.

Despite all there is to love about this romantic and magical neighborhood, right now is the best time to go there.  The Feasts begin in June and continue throughout the summer, but the Feast of all Feasts is the St. Anthony Feast, in late August.

Locals, suburbanites, and tourists come out.  Italians, Italian-Americans, and Italians-for-the-day line the streets.  Vendors sell pizza, sausage-peppers-and-onions, cheeses, zeppole, cannoli and pastries of all kinds.  But not to worry because whatever you eat while standing up has no calories.

Sant Antonio

Music and laughter abound as generations of family members celebrate.  As the parade makes its way down the old and narrow cobblestone streets, the large statue of Saint Anthony leading the way, balloons and confetti are dropped from apartment widows above.  The crowd chants, “Viva Sant Antonio!  Viva!”  The faithful stand in line, waiting to pin money on the statue as they offer a silent prayer.  It’s quite the spectacle.

The Feast of St. Anthony takes place next weekend in Boston’s North End.  I wouldn’t miss it.

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Life Lessons

Hidden Talents

Watching the Olympics, I marvel at the athletes – their skill and dedication, their years of sacrifice.  These elite athletes are a special breed and their kind of talent cannot be denied.

By comparison, the rest of us might seem ordinary, but we all have our hidden talents.

When I stopped by my brother’s place the other day, I was immediately drawn to a new piece of art hanging on the wall in his entryway.  This black and white photograph of a subway platform was urban and gritty, but it possessed an ethereal quality that I loved.

Porter Square T Staion

When I gushed about how wonderful it was, my brother didn’t say a word.  He just gave me the nod.  It’s a subtle mannerism of his.  He smiles and then gently nods his head twice.

“It’s one of my shots,” he finally admitted.

So I examined the photo more closely, noting the contrast of light and dark, the movement of the train – he’d successfully captured a moment and created a mood.  My brother, the chemical engineer, had been dabbling at photography for a couple of years, but I never realized how good he was until I saw this example of his work.

As I walked home that night, I thought about the corporate communication coach I know whose real talent is dancing the Tango.  She has such a passion for Tango that she travels to Argentina regularly just to dance.  I was reminded of my cousin, a retired teacher, who makes beautiful stained glass.  With patient and steady hands, she’s adept at cutting the glass, grinding the edges, foiling it, soldering it until she’s created a Tiffany styled lamp, wall sconce, or decorative mirror.

We all have some hidden talent that we likely take for granted.  We consider it a hobby.  But it’s often much more than that.  And it’s rewarding when that talent gets acknowledged.

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Girl Talk, Pop Culture

Crimes Against Fashion

Blue nail polish?  Not for me.

“Why not?” a gal who was young enough to be my daughter asked.

“Well, I’d wear it if I were your age,” I told the twentysomething.  “But at this point in my life, I prefer a classic red nail.”

As the conversation continued, I admitted to having worn shades of chocolate brown as well as metallic jade green nail polish back in the day.  This led to a larger discussion about fashion as I recalled some of the crimes against fashion I was guilty of committing when I was her age – or younger.

Two words: shoulder pads.  In my defense, it was the 1980’s and the TV show Dynasty had convinced every woman in America that it was not only okay, but necessary, to look like Ron Gronkowski if you wanted to stay on-trend.

Two more words: Leg warmers.  Yes, I wore them.  And thought they were cool.  Blame the movie Flashdance for that one.  I hear they’re making a comeback.  Why, I don’t know.

And finally, I have to go way back for this one – polyester bell bottoms.  I’m embarrassed to admit I wore those cringe-worthy things with my platform shoes.  Oh yes.  Big, clunky, wedged platforms.  I was in junior high school, it was the height of the Glam Rock era, and I was going for a certain look.  Which I achieved with the help of Mary Quant cosmetics and that metallic green nail polish.

Audrey HepburnThese days, I try to use my common sense when I’m debating a fashion choice.

I whisper to myself: WWAD – what would Audrey do?

Audrey Hepburn, that is.


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