Five Four and a Quarter

Questions, confessions, experiences, and inspirations of a twenty-something-year-old

In Loving Memory March 16, 2014

Filed under: bad experiences,Family,Life — Arianna Bolotin @ 5:31 pm
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March 6, 2014. A day that started out as a normal Thursday and quickly escalated into the day that I lost my first grandparent and the world lost a great man.

I never knew the young Sidney. The oldest memory I have of you is when we’d spend summers on the shores of Marblehead riding bikes and going crabbing on the rocky ledges of Devereux Beach. That’s the only way I can differentiate “young” Sidney from 80-year-old Sidney; your ability to be more active and the greater forgiveness your knees used to be able to give. But your wit, your humor, your knowledge, your love, even your sharp memory, never missed a beat from the younger version of you.

That’s partly what makes me so sad. You weren’t ready to go. Sure, your body hurt like hell and was constantly acting up in pain, but a body is just a body. As you proved to be true last year with your hip replacement, a body can be replaced and repaired. I know that if you had gotten to the point where you were hobbling around with a walker and you couldn’t drive or play pool anymore, you would have been miserable. I’m glad you never had to experience that. And I know that you died exactly how you wanted to and in the most peaceful way possible: in your sleep in your own bed. But there’s a happy medium and you weren’t there yet. We weren’t ready to say goodbye. That’s what makes it so hard.

As our family all discussed last weekend during your funeral and Shiva, you were our rock, sturdy as always. You were the force holding so many things together. You were the glue in the world that you had always searched for. You were, in our minds, dinosaur-like, adapting to and living through all of the tough obstacles that life threw in your way, and we just assumed you would always be there. I never even questioned that my visit to Florida over Christmas would be the last time I would see you.

As I said, I never knew the young Sidney like a lot of people did, including my dad and uncles. But what I do know about you, my Zaydee, is that you truly knew who you were, in a way that I can only hope I achieve one day myself. You were a spiritual man. Not religious, but spiritual. Through meditation, you found a way to connect your mind and body in such an incredible way. You were the son of a strong single mother. The proud father and grandfather, or patriarch, as you always like to say, of quite the clan of 17 and counting. You were a fixer, a problem solver, a do-it-yourselfer. You were an artist and a writer. You were a nurturer of both animals and hospice patients. You were active and athletic, for as long as your body let you be. Most importantly, for the sake of all of us, you were a bold seventeen-year-old who swept a young girl off her feet and never looked back. Now here we are, fast-forwarded sixty years.

What makes me happy, is that I know none of your family have any regrets. We so thankfully got to see you frequently and talk to you in between visits, and there is nothing we could have possibly done better. We carry with us pictures, writings and memories. But we also all hold a piece of you. For me, it’s your love for the written word and your dry sense of humor that shows through the most. For my brothers, I see your engineering mind. Your charisma and sense of caring. Your incredible intellect. In my cousins, you also shine through. Whether it’s your dark skin that those lucky ones inherited, your spirituality, your humor, your sense of purpose and love for family—it’s all there. So no matter where you are now, with us, you’re still living. We will always hold the Bolotin name and pass it along down the generations. You will be greatly missed. I hope that wherever you are, your joints don’t hurt you anymore.

 

Love For Boston April 17, 2013

Monday afternoon, I was sitting in my apartment in Brighton when I got my first text message from a friend telling me that there had just been an explosion in Boston. Immediately after, my brother called me from Vermont asking me if I was all right. The next fifteen minutes were spent immersed in multiple group text messages from all of my close friends and relatives, most of which I couldn’t respond to, since my phone wasn’t working properly. I had people texting me from both in Boston and also those living in Vermont, New Hampshire, and even California, making sure that all of us in Boston were OK. It wasn’t until a while after these initial conversations that it really started to sink in.

Holy shit. There was just a bombing in Boston. Two blocks away from where I work.

The office emails started to go out. Teams tracking down all of their teammates. Leadership and Security ensuring that all our people were safe and accounted for. Me talking to co-workers individually. “Are you in the office?” “Are you safe?” “Is everyone there OK?”

Two blocks away is just too close for comfort. Luckily, it proved to be all we needed, and fortunately no one had been in the danger zone of the explosions. Now, two days later, I still constantly find myself thinking about all the what-ifs? One of my close friends was two blocks away from the first explosion. What if she had stayed put for ten extra minutes? A coworker who was running the marathon was on the same stretch as both bombs. What if she had run two minutes faster? My roommate was at Fenway for a Red Sox game, with the plan to walk toward the finish line after. What if she had left the game early? A year ago on Marathon Monday, I took a break from the office, went out into the blazing heat of last year’s marathon, walked the two blocks to the finish line, and witnessed some of the runners crossing the final 26.2 mark. What if I hadn’t worked from home this year? What if, once again, I had been in Back Bay and had decided to go watch the Marathon at 2:30, as most of the runners were nearing the finish line?

On Sunday, the day before the marathon, a few friends and I walked all the way down Beacon Street in Brookline and Boylston Street in Boston. The last four miles of the Boston Marathon. The exact route on which Monday’s bombings took place. On Sunday, I stood at the corner of Exeter and Boylston Streets, on the block that these bombs were placed. What if I had walked this route on Monday instead?

Today was everyone’s first day back in the office since the horrific events of Monday. We started off the morning with an all-team meeting. 150 people gathered to listen to my bosses share their thankfulness for our camaraderie and our safety. They thanked everyone for our quick emergency responses. They encouraged us to all talk with each other if we need to, to show compassion, to take as much time as we needed to ease back into work. We spent the next few minutes looking at a montage of funny, happy pictures from work events and team travel. We were all smiling and laughing as my boss discussed where we’ve been over the years together, how close and friendly everyone is, and how we all spend more time together than with our own families and we really have a sense of all being family. I quickly went from laughing to tearing up as we had a moment of silence in honor of Monday’s victims and my boss once again expressed his gratefulness in everyone’s safety, saying that “I spent Monday trying to keep my eight-year-old away from the TV on the same day that another eight-year-old was killed.

I read an article today about things people forget to be grateful for. In addition to having food, water, the internet, growing up in a war-free country, and the eight other points listed in this article, after Monday’s events in my city I feel more fortunate than ever for everything else I take for granted. Having all four of my grandparents still alive. Growing up in a happy –yet crazy in a good way– family. Having a successful job that I love. Having the greatest friends, both those in Boston who I see or talk to almost every day and those farther away who I see far less frequently, yet it still feels like it was yesterday when we were last together. Having relatives nearby who I can easily see for holidays or “just because we need a girl’s night.”

I think the last time I had a true reality check like this was a year and a half ago, when I was hit by a car. It’s funny how bad experiences will do that to you. It’s made it clearer than ever that you need to be thankful for all the good things in your life, live each day to the fullest, tell people that you love them, have fun every day, and remember to smile. Because the harsh truth is, you never know if there will be a tomorrow.

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The Meaning of a True Friendship October 14, 2011

It was early January of 2008 the first time I met Kathleen. Her favorite time of year –snowboard season– and my least favorite –so cold and windy!– We were paired up in Marketing 110 for a class project that involved promoting the Battle For Burlington, an annual ski and snowboard competition between Burlington’s three colleges Saint Mikes, UVM, and Champlain. Although I saw Kathleen in class twice  week, it took some time before we really got to know each other. Our first –of what became many– real bonding experiences occurred at the end of March, the day the Battle For Burlington took place. We trekked to Jay Peak to help promote the event on the mountain. What could have easily been a beautiful spring skiing day turned out to be 25 degrees, so we bundled up and froze as we stood outside the base lodge, telling mountain skiers and riders where to go to watch the event.

While Kathleen had been smart and brought her snowboard, I had left my skis in Burlington, thinking I would be working the event all day and wouldn’t have time to use them. Because of this, I hiked up the mountain to where the event was taking place rather than taking a chair lift, and after the event was over, I had no choice but to hike back down. Or so I thought, until Kathleen suggested that the two of us sit on her snowboard and ride it sled-style to the base of the mountain. As we took off down the mountain, we quickly gained speed; too much speed. Part way into our ride, we bailed off the snowboard, tumbling and rolling a good distance before coming to a stop, hearts racing.

As I said, this was my first epic memory with Kathleen. Since this day, we went on to be roommates my sophomore year of college and randomly ended up getting apartments in the same building the following two years. We’ve shared birthday gatherings, holiday parties, Halloween extravaganzas, heartbreaks, laughs, and way too many pieces of sushi and bottles of wine to count. We hit it off as  friends and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll stay in touch forever. Kathleen even loves Disney almost as much as I do!

People enter your life every day. Whether they become a part of your life and leave an impact is up to you.

We recently experienced our first truly horrible memory together.

At the end of August, Kathleen’s mom, Jane, passed away from cancer. I’ve come to know Jane –and Kathleen’s whole family– over the last few years. Jane was the most active and healthy woman I’ve ever met. She ran more than I do. She worked as a trainer at a gym. She lived a healthy lifestyle and had a healthy mind. She was always a present and supportive mom, similar to my own. Not only was she Kathleen’s mom, but she was also her best friend. Read Kathleen’s beautiful post about her mom’s passing on her blog, Wamser and the World.

How do you support a friend who goes through the pain of losing a parent? It’s not like I can relate to this tragedy. Fortunately for me, I haven’t even had to go through the loss of a grandparent yet. Do I tell her I’m sorry, words that at this point probably sound empty to Kathleen, after she’s heard them from so many people? Do I go on with our friendship like nothing has changed? Knowing that Kathleen is the type of person who shares her feelings, ignoring the situation doesn’t seem like the best answer. But where is the line? When is it OK to talk about her mom and when will it only stir up sad feelings?

It’s pointless to ask Kathleen “Are you OK?” Of course she’s not. she’ll say she is, just like anyone would, but the truth is that life is not the same anymore without her mom and it will never be again. However, you have to go on. You don’t have a choice. Kathleen knows this more than anyone right now and even mentions in her post that “if there was one thing she made sure I knew it was that there was more life to live and I had to get up and do whatever would make me happy.”

Jane’s memorial services took place the days following my move to Boston at the beginning of September. Because of this, I was unable to attend and provide Kathleen and her family with the support that I would have liked to. On Kathleen’s recent visit to Boston, I told her that as much as I wish I could have been a part of her mom’s passing, I’m so happy that all my memories of Jane are so positive. The last few times I saw Jane this past spring we were having a fun night out in Burlington, celebrating our graduation and preparing for Kathleen’s summer departure for Europe. This is how I will always remember her; not from somber funeral events.

As hard as life will be for Kathleen without her mom, I know she’ll keep living life to the fullest, just as she has always. This is one of the reasons Kathleen and I get along so well. We’re both go-getters that constantly surround ourselves with  friends and things to do.

The future is unpredictable, but what I can confidently is that I will continue to be there for Kathleen no matter what obstacles there are to overcome, just as I know she will be there for me.

“Life is not fair. Occasionally the bad guy wins, people do play favorites, some good people die young, some people will let you down and not everyone is honest. While we can accept this, it shouldn’t stop us from dreaming big, working hard and doing what is right.” -Corey Wells

 

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Night June 11, 2011

Filed under: bad experiences,Life — Arianna Bolotin @ 9:49 pm
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WARNING: This post does not share the same optimistic, inspiring, and insightful tone of most of my former posts. It depicts a negative situation that I experienced two days ago. Hopefully, I will not have to share news like this again.

Thursday afternoon I walked out to my car to go to work. My car was not in the spot in which I had parked. Very quickly, I came to the conclusion that it had been towed. I called the towing company and they told me that yes, they had my car. Although it was parked in the lot for which I have a parking permit, it was in a spot that apparently belongs to a different property –how I was supposed to know this, I have no idea.– After a 10 minute conversation in which I became very frustrated and the towing company apologized but said that the property manager had called it in and there was nothing they could do about it, I unhappily came to terms with the fact that I could call the company later that night to get my car back and I would have to pay them $70.

At 10:30 p.m. when I got out of work, I called the dispatch phone number for the towing company. They got in touch with the driver who was on duty and I was told that he would call me back to let me know when he could meet me to get my car. After I spoke with the driver, we set up to meet at 11:30 p.m.–since the towing company is also the automotive station that I’ve been going to for the last two years to get my oil changes and car work done, I knew exactly where it was.– My roommate drove me to the station and the driver was waiting for us in his tow truck.

“Your car’s in our lot a few blocks away so follow me there,” he said, and held out his hand. “It’s $70.”

“Can I pay you when I get to my car?” I asked.

The driver responded, “What’s the difference?”

“I just want to get to my car first,” I said.

So, off we drove. The man was driving like a maniac and my roommate had to go 15 miles an hour over the speed limit just to keep up with him. We followed him to the lot –which was deserted, dark, and scary– and he got out to open the locked gate.

“Here we are,” he said. “$70. Now go find your car.”

As I glanced into the unlit lot, I asked him, “Where’s my car?”

“It’s in there somewhere,” he responded.

“Well can you find it with me?” I asked.

Aggravated, he replied, “I have other calls and other places to be.”

“I don’t feel comfortable walking into the dark lot at midnight alone,” I explained to him.

So, reluctantly, he walked into the lot with me and shined his flashlight on the cars.”Honda Civic, right? There it is.”

Looking at an unfamiliar license plate I replied, “That’s not my car.”

After a few seconds of determining that my car was nowhere to be found, he became enraged.”What the f*** those dumbasses told me to go to the wrong lot!” he screamed. “The other lot’s on the other f***ing side of town!”

Terrified by his rage, I walked out of the lot, jumping as he slammed the gate shut violently. “So I’ll follow you to the other lot?” I asked him timidly.

“I have other places I have to be,” he said angrily. Just give me the $70 and I’ll tell you how to get there.

As scared as I was, I was not about to give someone $70 in cash when I didn’t even know whether or not my car was actually located in this other lot. “I need you to show me where to go,” I responded.

After a little more yelling, he got into his tow truck and drove off, leaving me and my roommate clueless as to what do do next.

As we got back into the car, I emotionally broke down. Between the fearful situation I had just experienced and the anger I felt at not having my car and no longer knowing where it was or how to get it, I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. I called the towing company’s dispatch again and explained to the person I spoke with what had just happened. He said he would call the driver and get back to me. I then called my brother, hysterical. Honestly, I’m surprised he could even understand what I was saying. Assuming we were going to eventually get my car, I asked my brother if we could pick him up to come with us, since two girls alone in this situation felt very unsafe. We drove to his apartment, which was a mere two blocks away, and he got into the car. I told him everything that had happened in the last half hour. He came to the same conclusion that I already had: the whole situation was crazy/sketchy and thank god I hadn’t paid the driver yet.

We sat in the car for a few minutes waiting to hear back from dispatch. When they called me, I was told that “the driver said he needed your money before he showed you where your car is.”

“Well clearly that’s not true, because he brought me to where he thought my car was without being paid,” I responded.

With much more sincerity than the driver had expressed, the dispatch person explained that he doesn’t have any more information, but the driver said he would call me soon to get my car at the other lot. However, I was done with dealing with this man. He was mean and scary and there was no way in hell we were meeting back up with him later this night –at this point, it was already 12:30 a.m. Understanding that although the person I was talking to was nice, his job was to answer the phone and he couldn’t be much help in getting me my car, I asked him –through tears– “If I wait until the morning and go the the service station to talk to them, will they have more answers for me?”

“Yes,” the dispatcher replied. “It seems like it makes sense for you to speak with them in the morning.”

So, that was that. I would have to pursue the matter further in the morning. My brother got out of the car –and, although I doubt it, hopefully went to bed since he had to be at work in six hours– and my roommate and I headed home. The next morning, I woke up to three voicemails from the driver. They were all received between 1:15 and 2:00 a.m. How he assumed I would have a ride to meet him at 2 in the morning I have no idea. Regardless, the messages all explained that if I didn’t get my car before 7 a.m. I would be charged additionally for an overnight storage fee.

I then went to the service station to sort everything out. Luckily, one of the men who was working is someone I’ve spoken with in the past when I brought my car in for service, and he had always been very nice to me. I started off the conversation by saying, “I’ve been coming here for the last two years and I’ve always had a great experience. However, last night was one of the worst experiences of my life.” I then told him the entire story of the night before, starting with the fact that we had to drive 15 miles an hour over the speed limit to keep up with this guy to him getting angry and violent and stranding us at the deserted lot. I was upset, and he could tell, but –surprisingly– I was not crying. The man I spoke with was very concerned and understanding. ” I have kids your age and I would never want them to be put in a dangerous situation like that,” he said. “And there was no reason for the driver to require your money before you had your car. This guy’s an asshole. I’ll talk with him later. And he’s an idiot, because the invoice for your car says the name of the lot where your car was towed. For now, let’s get you your car. And don’t worry about paying anything.”

I was very appreciative for how nice this man was and, of course, for not having to pay for the towing. I retrieved my car and my life is back to normal. I guess everything has just been falling into place so well, like me finding somewhere to live all summer, that something was bound to go wrong.

On an optimistic side –if there is one,– this situation made me realize that prior to Thursday, I can’t remember the last time I had cried. That’s a good sign, right?

 

 
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