I wrote this in February 2012 for my old writing group, and only got to read it last night as the group was meeting at our apartment - Krissa is still involved.
In Brooklyn and waiting to cross a street two women on the other side share a kiss and turn and smile out at the world and I smiled back, doubly happy to see love and its free expression, when there are places in the world where it would be possible but not prudent to kiss at a crosswalk when your lover is of the same sex. The taller of the two caught my eye and my smile and I held it , suppressing the fear of being thought a leering voyeur, but she smiled again and looked away and I was relieved at not breaking her out of whatever world they were inhabiting.
Sitting in a mostly empty subway car at twenty to seven in the evening and heading to the village, near me was a drag queen in a large curly wig and leopard print minidress adjusting her makeup with a jerky staccato movements that suggested a mixture of verve and nerves. Halfway down the car behind her, two men in white lace skullcaps and leather jackets were loudly discussing alcohol in Islam in the middle of the carriage and I realized I would be okay with living in New York for a long time.
I get a sort of mental tic from time to time, like I imagine some people get vertigo or flashbacks, of what it is I?m looking at or doing. Making coffee in a skyscraper made of hot-rolled steel and long-set concrete, three hundred feet above the ground. Sitting in a ponderous heavy metal canister propelled along rails by electricity at forty miles an hour, reading a book, under a river. Breathe in. Alveoli exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide at the gas-blood barrier, do nothing with the nitrogen. Breathe out. Stepping outside onto the office balcony for some fresh air and a view of downtown and the harbor, where a tugboat is buoyed upwards with a force equal to the weight of the Hudson river water it displaces, and moves forward due to the effect of differential pressure over the moving blades of its propeller like wings and described by Bernoulli?s equation which you can demonstrate by blowing between two sheets of paper... I have spent so much of my life learning how to isolate things...to recognize the systems in the world. When alone they can be simplified and understood. Sometimes things will ?click? into that isolation of perception when, suddenly alone on the stage, they embody a remembered fact or relationship that is completely and abstractly true but utterly irrelevant to the ocean of real movement and life in which we are immersed.
I stepped out of my office building, abrupt into streams of people and into the path of a blonde woman in a smart blue coat walking hard, crying, brushing her hair from her face and talking on the telephone.
?And now you?re trying to break up with me like this, when you?re mad at me, and you don?t want to talk. Let?s not do this now.?
Blocked by flow in both directions I was forced into an evasive intimacy with her as she listened, and a snatch of voice, digitized but unmistakably emotionally aroused in tone, briefly dopplered past my ear and I couldn?t help but turn as she passed me and heard her say, ?It?s not right to do this,? as she became lost in the crowd.
I thought of a boyfriend, an angry situation of no real importance any more and a sudden coldness of the heart like a blanket being lifted from the skin, and the ease and surgical finality of using the telephone to remove someone from your life, and how terrible it is.
I pursed my lips in sharp sympathy and crossed the street to the subway station by the church and thought that it might only be through the persistent application of humanity to time, day after day, that we ever accomplish at all. Just think of all the impersonality and restriction and structure we?ve made and have to deal with and how simple and sad it is to become inundated by it, or to withdraw into it, to be seduced by its ease or broken by its complications. It is near miraculous and bloody marvellous that we manage to reach out from behind all our thoughts and memories and ego and through our perceptions to find consensus on anything at all, let alone to love and share and risk...that we all take small steps - forward and backward - we progress and regress - deliberately, accidentally, and voluntarily for long stretches of time for a million reasons which occur to us from one moment to the next and even though we realize what we?re doing isn?t that tiring and inspiring at the same time?