Zina was our cleaning lady throughout my childhood and teenage years. She was from a Portugal and had a family to which my mother gave hand-me-downs and other extra and leftover things. She was kind and caring, and I am sure that I was a jerk to her.
I came home one day to find my bed changed and nicely made, as Zina always did, and then suddenly realized that I had left a Playboy magazine under the pillow. I figured that Zina would have thrown it out and probably told my mother, and removed the pillow to find it still there, neatly replaced.
And of course Zina never said anything to me about it.
Zina was also the only person I remember crying at my father’s funeral. She wrapped her arms around me and sobbed. Nobody else did that. We were a stoic family and didn’t do such things.
I wrote copiously, much of it drivel, during and after my cross-country hitchhiking trip in 1983. The only bits worth anything were my notes on what happened – car types, driver descriptions – as scant as they might be, and my expenses:
June 21: Joe Louis & Pepsi ($1.05), 2 milks & water ($0.70), Quarter pounder w/cheese & root beer ($3.50), Auberge des Jeunesse ($5.50), Bottle/red wine ($6.50), Smokes ($1.90) July 16: Donut & OJ ($1.60), Smokes ($2.00), Big cookie ($1.00), Apple ($0.18) , The Return of the Jedi ($5.50), Alphagetti ($1.00)
I met a hippie who everyone called The General. “So I came home last night and there was smoke everywhere, even out in the fucking hallway. So I went into the bedroom and kicked the bed and yelled, ‘Wake up, bitch!’ I asked her where the smoke came from and she said, ‘Out of my camera! Out of the fucking camera!’ Turned out she was cooking bacon and fell asleep. When she left for work the next morning, I yelled after her, “Goodbye, bacon burner!'” I found three commonalities throughout Canada: 1) War memorials 2) Globe & Mail Newspapers 3) An abundance of pornography. (Bus driver: “You writin’ a dirty letter?”)
And finally this…Contemplation of how extremely solid the earth is. Just try hitting it.