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 upswell of people boiling out of my subway station means I have just missed a train. Because of the time of the morning, most of them are students at the nearby junior high school, a rough mob of tight shirts, baggy pants, gold fronts, big earrings. I press myself against the wall as they surge past, I know in their boisterousness, their youthful entitlement, their up-front attitude, they will take up the whole stairwell and block my passage. I could be irritated with this, but I hear something ricocheting against the tile walls, building as it draws near. Singing. They are singing. They are singing “happy birthday!” and as they turn the corner on the steps to ascend I can look down into their joyous faces.


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