Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three Moments in NYC


My train stops at Harlem 125th Street, mythical location of Langston Hughes poems, James Baldwin stories, and so it is that I find myself on my journey. NYC is so foreign to me. All of it. Fabulous, bewildering, exhilarating and foreign. Tenement housing whirs by as we lurch forward again, red brick landscape slips across tempered glass like text-less microfiche. Next stop, Grand Central. Upper West Side. Noe. The visual birth of Inertia. Another way to be in this life.

I sit in a coffee shop called Utopia where Broadway and Amsterdam meet in a criss-cross intersection at 72nd. The subway station rises from the sidewalk like an Upper West Side mini-Louvre. The busboy keeps passing my table and speaking very sweetly in Spanish. Signed head shots smile or smolder from frames on the wall--Susan Sarandon (smile), Sandra Bullock (smolder), Lisa Kudrow (big smile), Dennis Quaid (smile), Mariah Carey (big smolder). Christmas decorations dangle from the ceiling, and I listen to the small talk at the counter. A fall at 93 is different from a fall at 40. Cat sitting? I'll watch your cat for $200 a week! Allergies even in snow. ATM idiosyncrasies. The man at the register knows everyone's names, and I think if I lived here (God forbid I should live in this wonderful, terrible, godforsaken city), I would come here every day for the tastiest $1.37 worth of coffee 'in town' and for the kindness of these strangers.

A few moments with you, P, and all of the grief of these past years breaks open like an egg in your heart. You have been left defenseless. Wet hair and without my panties in the ER room, you repeat indignantly. Hapless combination of vision and poetry, drugs and fear, and alas, the wildest kind of hope. This is what has left you reeling--a whirligig off its axis and tumbling up into the ether. No way to collect yourself, littered across the sky in delicate, iridescent fragments. I love this city, you intone, and you mean it. You hug yourself as your fanciful eyes follow the slim lines of tall buildings that make a landing strip of a secretly limitless sky, and I wind my arm through yours as we go, hoping that my love will find its way in to where you are.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Kim. Your writing just gets better and better all the time.