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.


In winter I will buy a new pair of shoes. And proceed to wear them every day, until they expire in the spring, when I will buy another pair of shoes. This biannual ritual has been the path for years, borne out of the necessity of poverty when one pair had to go with everything. I'm not poor anymore but still it's spring and I have not renewed my shoes. On the platform today I notice the heels are worn through. It's a little embarrassing, but won't be remedied any time soon.

A thirteen year old boy is doing his g-thang on a 2-seater subway bench, his knees spread wide, the crotch of his pants a sail in between. I say excuse me and he wordlessly shifts over to make just enough room for me. I say thank you because I want him to know his courtesy is appreciated. He folds his hands into his lap, once raising a finger to his mouth to delicately bite off a hang nail. His cheeks are smooth, his clothes are clean, he is fronting hard to hide that sweetness, and that has a charm to it.

The train at the connection downtown is slowed again, and in the aggregation there are people I recognize from other trips, people I work with. I know who is going my direction when we exit our station. I am going in the direction of the day lilies that are just starting to shout their orange blare, the long-necked pansies craning over the dusty hostas, that one, slow-growing climbing hydrangea with its long panicles still a set of tightly furled tease. It looks like it will rain again today and if it does I will not get to go running, but that means I will get more time for dreaming.


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