jolie laide: Commuting 5-10

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


Commuting 5-10

At the subway station in Brooklyn: this morning and there is a line of four people in front of me and I can hear the train coming. I won’t make this train. Three people in front of me, and the train enters the station. I won’t make it. Two people in front of me, it is a short train and pulling ahead to the far end of the station. I won’t make it.

Finally I am through the turnstile and it is a clear shot down the platform so I make a run for it. A real run, not a jog, not a quick-shuffle fast walk, a sprint, chest up, stride long and I do make it. Not just to squeeze into the last car, I take that joy of movement, that thrilling, competent release to the second car and long before the doors shut on the shufflers and joggers behind me. A teeny goofy joy.

On the platform in Chinatown: there is a pinched and hobbling man arranging pieces of garbage around a bench. Moving around and around with great deliberation, placing a flyer here, a wrinkled tissue there, touching touching touching, patting into place. I watch him for a moment, sad, he is what the Chinese social workers I work with call “out of harmony.” As I leave I hear the rumble of an oncoming train, feel the rush of air I know will destroy his work, his world, his attempt at balance and part of me aches for the destruction he is about to endure.

On the street on the Lower East Side: One lone enormous bearded iris rises and unfolds its white wings over the greening underplantings and groundcover in the park I pass every day. I hope that soon there will be others to join it, a flock of cranes bobbing and nodding on their long stems.


Blogger slickaphonic said...

Ah, the middle paragraph won some part of me...

2:53 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

the fragile little constructions we build to stave off chaos, uncertainty, fear...this man and the oncoming train broke my heart in an instant.

and so I am that much more grateful for a full throttle sprint, a single glowing iris.

this is how I strive for grace, I fight for this, and often against myself, every day.

and how are you, who carries scars under her hair like a hidden garden?

4:05 PM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

Oh, they used to be hidden; now I wear my hair short, so that they can "get some sun."

I am constantly amazed at the ways in which humans strive to order the chaos in which we live; acceptance of it seems to be an admission of insanity...

It's always seemed odd but beautiful to me that logic is so intuitive--an intuitive faith, but faith nonetheless. We find comfort in the strangest of places: numbered lists, false dichotomies, repetition and routines...and a gust of wind to carry them all away--

But to answer your question, I am on pills right now--because I am a woman and today, my muscles remind in the only way they know how...

4:45 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

bleck. sorry.

12:19 PM  

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