Thursday, January 27, 2011

città d'amore

January is a slow month for tango.

Maybe it's the seven varieties of frozen precipitation, or perhaps merely the post-holiday backlash blues and a general lack of funds . . .

Either way, I've danced a great deal less since new year. Unless you count the kind of dancing one does to Caravelli (in woolen socks on kitchen floors in Bushwick lofts, a pot of tea or else a skillet full of frugal food abubble on the stove). I say why not.

My mornings have come to smell of gasoline and truck exhaust, or else of deep fried duck, as now I pass the Peking Food Corporation and an auto salvage yard on my commute. My walk to the L is bright, white snow piled against stark, square buildings. It smells cold and the light almost blinds me under this black wool hat I've come to wear as much for Jack as for the warmth (because I like the way he moves it from my eyes).

I reiterate, at the risk of angering the Fates: I have never once been happier than this.

I work mornings, dish and dusting duties eased by NPR. I do yoga. I eat damn near the same Whole Foods salad every day for lunch (with bowl rebate, just under three dollars). I spend the rest of my day writing, with or without Jack, drifting from tea to steaming mug of tea. Evenings I dance. Or else the Ginsberg Group convinces us to join them for a film, projected on the big, white walls in their cold, white common space, sipping real good whiskey from a coffee cup.

We sleep braided together as if the bomb might drop, or the bed might plummet down the chute to the river Styx. His is a nightstand built of books. He talks me through his theories, he reads my drafts. I've worn the same pair of socks for six straight days.

Funny how easily we change. Nothing fundamental lost, just this new geography, the new routine. How soon Miss Lonely Hearts gets used to hearing 'we' without a flinch.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a barrel full of doubts. This mutually supportive, monogamous thing I've found myself in, with its two-way superhighway of communication—it scares me. But these slow dance moments, this tender—genuine tenderness—has me lit up like a hothouse lily.

New love is a gamble anywhere. It is impossible in New York City. The scenes of your reverie will turn to landmines after the fact, the city a treacherous field of pain for you to navigate alone. But what kind of romantics would we be without the leap? We do not care that certain delis, certain subway platforms, certain bits of park will be off limits when this thing ends in tears.

You might imagine I feel invincible. I'm sorry, I do not. And I do not mean to brag.

If anything, new love is like a terminal disease. But you accept your diagnosis and run naked from the office, ready to lick life from the gutters if you must. It only lasts as long as you let it flap around you like a flock of birds.

Friday, January 14, 2011

just in case the latest platitudes are true

New Yorkers are busy people, acclimated to the fiendish pace set by a zealously over-competent service industry. In no other city in these United States can you order a sandwich and already be holding up the line by the time you find your wallet. In bodegas, in coffee bars, there is an infrastructure to maximize efficiency; things happen fast. We are therefore soft on waiting.

Cue the inevitable anomaly: a tortoise-paced barista pacing from pastry case to cash box with all the expediency of a low level bureaucrat on lunch hour. The sighs behind me are audible.

Jesus fucking Christ. (Always the first comment overheard.) You try to ignore, hold your weight evenly between your two feet, balance your heavy donkey’s load of laptop, purse, and Whole Foods lunch, have patience with the questions in your heart and remember this is the only Friday, January 14th, Two-Oh-One-One we're ever gonna get. You watch this creature lumber back and forth and begin to fantasize about your own till proficiency, your bygone bartending wonder days. This is amusing for approximately seven minutes and then, just as your own impatience is about to pop, the dampening hulk of a man behind you mutters more—

Wow, lady, you are fucking slow.




Slow slow slow slow... fuck me. Wow.

I mean, he's right and all, but somehow the ugliness of his short fuse builds an almost beatific buffer between you and all the douchebags of the world. You start to think perhaps there's not a fire to run to after all. And, by the time your turn comes at the counter, you are able just to smile, order your latte, and say thank you very much.

That got me thinking. Breathe in, breathe out. Have a little patience, have a little faith.

My dad has been . . . unenthusiastic? About Jack? Mostly I think just to keep me from spinning off the road in eagerness to celebrate my relative domestic contentment. Meg, he said, you were just so desperate to have a boyfriend. And that might be true. But not as it applies to Jack.

You see, had I just inhaled and exhaled my way through the wilderness back last December then this July, perhaps I could have avoided the belly flop I took trying to get Gatz and the G.I.Q. to give two shits to rub together.

If I'm learning anything new these days, as a new woman and a New Yorker, trying to walk mindfully in this city of quick and dirty sin, it is perhaps that good things come to those who wait.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'd better nip off and embroider that on a couch cushion somewhere.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

the internet gaping before the great awake

I have become afraid of sleep.

It is the darndest thing: to stomp through my routine each night by rote—teeth, hair, toilette, leave daily socks on under pajamas, cocoon myself beneath flannel sheets and folded quilts. And here I am stalling, half midnight.

I am tired, running another fever, leaking from the nose. It was only Sunday I was quoting Sylvia Plath to Jack in bed. I am too pure for you or anyone.

Fact is, I'm not.

I'm not afraid of all that much anymore, be it death or pain or yet another broken heart. I like myself on the yoga mat, the dance floor, the far side of Saturday night. But something happens in the bower that makes the doubt start beating in my heart, flapping its ugly wings, turning itches into ailments. These moments I feel I am a cheat, that the big-winged birds are coming to collect.

If when I shut my eyes alone, I lose my grip, why should I sleep?

Monday, January 3, 2011

so this is the new year

The grateful train is leaving the station. Thank you, powers that be, for the following:

Bushwick rooftop midnight.

Champagne, fireworks, cold weather kiss.

Sweaters, topcoats, made of wool.

Funk music dance off.

Tête á tête with airplane scone.

Couch cushion movie theatre, single malt Scotch.

Early evening nap, macaroni and cheese.

Peeled grapefruit sections, avocado on toast.

Earl Grey with milk.

A day spent asleep.

Oh . . . and thanks for Jack. Being held by him is like lying in an airfield at the close of dusk, the world a quiet, windy blue. An eerie silent sound prevails, ocean to eardrum. Dim streetlamps in the distance twinkle in the darkness. Safely falling into unknown space.