jolie laide

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.


The subway doors open and a toddler boards, pushed forward by her mother. I hop out of my seat, so they might sit, but the little girl, made much bigger by her puffy lavendar coat, does not want to sit. She wants to hold onto the pole with one hand, hold her half-eaten morning bun in the other, look up at me, blinking.

At my station the escalator is not running again, and so I run up the four flights of stairs to surface. Cross the street to say good morning to the old man who hangs out on the low stoop of a tenement in the mornings, sweeping and chatting. I tip my head to him, and he does the same, without interrupting his stream of conversation.

Into the corner store for a croissant and the man who says "Good morning, Beautiful." He does not know how much I need this today, both kindness and sustenance, kindness as sustenance. I cut through the little park by my office and that woman is there again, the one who takes off her shoes and walks on the gravel barefoot, the tiny cool stones crunching under her firm step. And now I start the business of this day.


Blogger Dr. S said...

Well: good morning, Beautiful!

11:56 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Good morning to you, you awesome and fantastic thing!

(and not to be worried...I always get funky when I have to do work with our homeless shelters. Not only is it so sad, oh on so many levels the failure is so dense, but I am also terrified of failing. This is a completely irrational fear, I am totally competent. But the weight of a possible $20M mistake must be respected.)

9:20 AM  
Blogger cherrydragonut said...

Nursing home have that horrible stench. It's not streety but medicinal, pissy. My father lives in one and I think it is doing more harm than good...kind of like being in a "special ed," class. Somehow being grouped by one's weaknesses, segrogated in a world of confinement, of wheelchairs, nursing, full time hospital stay seems to shorten the yardstick. When I am with athletes, I want to be fit, when I am the brightest bee in the class, I grow lazy, restless, uninterested. I need to be challenged--like that four flights of stairs you climbed. This morning I walked to work. It was rejuvenating. My dad tells me he wants to be where he is. And I feel resistance. Resistance almost did me in. I try not to resist people anymore, the boss, the decisions people make. I'm trying to soften up.

9:30 AM  
Blogger remue-menage said...

kindness as sustenance - I am shamed, as I have not always been kind to you

but rather fierce - the opposite of love isn't hate it's indifference

I'm worried about your marathon-ing - that sort of thing destroys the body over time. you need your body, please take care of it!

9:14 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

the marathon training is supposed to train your body to break down and build back up again. but I must say, at 40, the building back is not quite at the pace it needs to be, coming down to the final training miles. I can do 18 miles, 20 miles is pushing it beyond where I feel comfortable right now. re-evaluation is underway. thank you for being concerned, that is a concern being echoed all over and I would be foolish not to pay attention.

5:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home