Wednesday, June 12, 2024

I’m Not Picky

The house manager of the Broadway show we’re attending has taken a shine to us, and after the show ends finds us to say goodbye. 

We joke about the wood-fire pizza places in Brooklyn Katie recommended, and then he gives us each a hug before we leave. 

Seeing the cane I’ve been walking with, after hugging me he fixes me with an intense look, and grabbing my shoulder with his bony hand, says, “Be whole and healed, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I take a beat to process this, then, with a smile, say, “Hey, I’ll take whatever help I can get!"

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tuppence A Bag

On the weekends, Grand Army Plaza at the north end of Prospect Park fills with white tents for the greenmarket, like mushrooms that appear after a storm. They make a miniature city, with little streets that fill up with shoppers and their dogs, their bikes, their strollers, all milling about, buying apples and cheese and bread and cabbages, arms full of flowers and potted plants.

Today, though, walking through the plaza on my way to the library, the plaza is empty, a vast expanse up the sky, criss-crossed by bicyclists streaking through the void, with a lone woman down by Eastern Parkway feeding a mob of pigeons.

The pigeons revolve around her, like worshipers around a shrine, or groupies around a pop star, circling as a single organism, parts of them breaking off and rousing up in a flurry of wings to settle on her shoulders and outstretched arms before diving back to the ground where she scatters sheets of seed for them to eat, and as I walk past I avert my eyes, somehow embarrassed by this naked display of adoration, the birds for the food, the woman for the birds. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Matthew 5:41

“You have to seek out the thing that makes you tired,” my mother tells me over the phone, “and just keep doing it.”

“Yes, I get it.”

“If you have one set of stairs to go up, you go up them twice. That’s how I’ve managed to live so long."

Sunday, June 9, 2024

If Music Be The Food...

 “Oooh, who’s this?” Katie asks as the music curls from the kitchen speakers like the scent of onions and garlic cooking in the pan, drums popping, horns all spicy. The fried rice she’s making sizzles like high-hat cymbals, umami like bass.

I do a half-assed quick-stepping dance across the tiles, then perch on the stool, phone in hand. “Buena Vista Social Club,” I say proudly, checking the playlist. 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

A Different Kind of Joy

You take the bag, that’s what it essentially is - a big, impermeable bag - and you run with it, holding it open to the wind you’re creating by running, until it fills up, and then you kind of twist it closed with this buckle thing, and you end up with what looks like an enormous split top hot dog bun, only you are the hot dog, and the bun is a remarkably comfortable couch/hammock kind of thing. 

Katie bought one of these magical treasures today and brought it to the park, and after she tried it out, she let me have a go, and let me tell you, it was worth looking like a big ol’ dork running with this bag-thing  to lie down on a literal pillow made of air and textile science.

When I was young, I felt my epiphanies in my gut, right below the solar plexus, with this sort of crazy, wild energy that would shoot through my stomach and down into my crotch, and it was half-way between lust and rage, and it would feel good but also kind of scary.

Today I lay in the Hot Dog Bun Of Perpetual Indulgence and I swear to you, as the tension left my body and I relaxed into the warm Brooklyn afternoon, I felt my heart open up with joy and something like love, and thought “Ah, I am no longer a young man."

Trash Day

My knee hurts, my hip hurts, and I’m tired, but the garbage needs to go out.

Walking down the stairs is just as hard as walking up, so I grip the handrail with each step, the recycling in my other hand. 

I look at the stairwell down to the front door, and I’m struck by the idea that I am alive, in this moment, and pain is part of this moment, and so too is the satisfaction of just moving through air, being in a building, the cool air outside, the satisfying thump of the door being pulled to, the trash bagged by the curb, the cop car with its flashing lights slowly following the ambulance down the street toward the hospital, in no hurry with whomever might be inside, and on and on and on, the entire world surrounding me and my tiny little body, every part touching every other part, all the way out into space.

I remind myself to take Advil when I get upstairs, and then forget again as soon as I go back inside.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Babies Don’t See Color

The sudden torrential downpour drove all the stroller-moms in from the streets, rapidly filling up the small cafe in which my friend and I chose to meet, and one of the babies has taken quite a shine to my friend, staring with intense, un-baby-like concentration.

“Ooooh, he must be an ‘old soul,’” my friend says, waggling his fingers at the fascinated child. I’m always embarrassed to make too much eye-contact with babies I haven’t been formally introduced to, but I smile gamely.

“Or,” he says, considering, “maybe he’s just never seen a black person before."

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Living On Top Of Each Other

 “We gotta just get the same amount of juice on each plate,” I tell the cats as I divide the can of rendered chicken between them for their dinner. “Don’t want either of you terrorists getting weird about it.”

I see some movement out the open window I’m standing next to, and look down to find our downstairs neighbor out on her deck, sweeping up the fallen flowers that have dusted it all in yellow, and she looks up at me.

“Hey there!” I say with a smile, knowing that she heard every word of the preceding. and she looks up with a smile of her own and waves.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Riding Home

There’s a part of my journey home from Katie’s studio, when I cross over the parkway and into my neighborhood-proper, when the character of things changes.

The trees have sheltered these streets for forty or fifty years, the houses have been here way longer than that. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s sunset, and I’m going downhill, slipping through traffic while the cars sit fuming at stoplights, idling murderously. 

I find myself praying in that sort of inarticulate way that sometimes happens, wordlessly grateful for the road, the tires, the traffic, the trees, leaves like stained glass, for standing, for moving through the world, like everything around me is a church, a temple, a shrine. 

Monday, June 3, 2024

Do Not Engage

“You got any change?” he asks, hoisting a blue plastic IKEA bag up on one shoulder. 

I start to say “Sorry, I don’t have anything on me,” but he’s already groaning angrily before I begin. “’Sorry’ doesn’t cut it, man - I need money!”

I keep walking, saying, “What can you do?”

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Make A Wish

I lean out over the rail of the 19th floor rooftop deck and look down to feel the nauseated thrill of gravity. To my left, the tall buildings shoulder their way up the coast of Manhattan to vanish in the shallows of the Bronx, while directly below me, scatterings of people play in the park or relax on the lawn as twilight creeps in from the east, shadowing the sun across the water into New Jersey.

Like the stars we never see, the buildings begin their glitter seemingly all at once, but sprinkled across the skyline so you couldn’t know which one you saw first to wish on.

Katie comes up behind me, puts her hand on my back, I turn and see her smiling, and I put my hand out to stroke her hair, smiling too.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Spare

Everyone and their dog came to the park today, and this guy brought his corgi. He decides he’s gotta check on something, and the corgi is like, “Absolutely, my man, let’s go,” but the guy tells him to stay with the group, he’ll be right back, points him back to where the group is sitting in the shade, with the fat bees humming under the shady trees and all the food is there, and it’s great. 

The corgi considers this for a bit, his head cocked to one side, and decides, nah, I should definitely tag along, just in case things get weird or whatever, runs after him, and the guy stops, tries to send him back, corgi isn’t having it, and this goes on for a couple rounds, with him walking away repeatedly, pursued by a small, willful dog, until finally the guy shouts to his friend/partner, asks him to call the dog, who, called by another person who has some authority, goes back to the group, albeit reluctantly and with deep misgivings as to the wisdom of this course of action.

Wonder how that second guy feels, knowing he’s definitely the spare human?