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.


I am waiting at home for the roofer to come and give me an estimate for the leaky roof and spewing gutter amelioration. I am trying to squeeze this in before going to work and when he arrives, I show him out to the fire escape. We go up one floor to inspect the gutter, then he scrambles two more flights all the way to top of the house, nimble as a monkey, and when he gestures me to follow him, well, I do. When I get to the top I am considering how to swing my leg from the straight ladder over the parapet, when it hits me. I am wearing heels. Mules, no less, jesus. And a dress. With a slip, yes, but no panties. The breeze four stories off the ground is significant and I realize that the urge to put a hand to my billowing skirts is a nearly irresistible reaction to the cool morning air hitting my rump. I look back over my shoulder, to the cracked concrete of the back yard, a killingly long drop, and know what a fecking idiot I am, because now, with flip floppity shoes and functionally bare-assed, I have to get back down.

The moment when you realize you have imperiled yourself needlessly makes the danger that much greater, for creeping panic can cause worse mistakes than just blithely going forward. This instance on the ladder at the top of my house flashes me back 20 years to Austin, when I found the windy meandering street I was riding on suddenly turned into a highway. And the bad possibilities of Texas highway, underpowered motorcycle, and lack of exoskeleton are nearly endless and nearly always fatal. Today was exactly the same kind of shock. You have simply wandered into a position where you could actually die. Now, find your way out.

I did take a moment to understand the gravity of my situation, explain to the guy that I was not really dressed for climbing and therefore would not be joining him on the roof, then carefully negotiated myself back down the ladders. What this reminds me of most of all, in the spike of fear I felt looking down, is the great, simple desire to live. And, like 20 years ago, I still don’t have an exoskeleton. Jackass.


Blogger oraclemonkey said...

oh, yeah.

i was not expecting a morning like this to remind of so much. why should i?

being jerked around by images of Pickle Meadows or upright treed in Lexington with a helmet, or heading south coast highway three am eighty mph flat to the roof of a ford wagon, that parking lot in nyack sunday shining early brass knuckles and tattoos faced and fisted shirt.

all that blew up in about fifteen seconds. maybe less.

so this passes and then i'm surprised at myself because all those recollections were so one sided.

and that was when the aftershock kicked in :)

sorry, i really resisted that emoticon but fell in the end.

2:23 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

you are most forgiven. If it is at all my place to forgive. ;)

8:50 PM  

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