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.


On the black rubber handrail of the escalator, someone has tagged “Vicious” in silver paint pen. The i’s are dotted with friendly open circles. Someone has a delicious sense of humor, or is tragically clueless.

There is a cab stand outside the station, where the Chinese drivers can stop without getting a ticket, go into Golden Carriage and get a dollar bun, pee, chat with the counter girls. The ad on a vacant taxi says “Necessary Objects” in candy bright letters, and I wonder what the marketers think those might be.

When I got back into the country, to my house, the New York Times was waiting for me. The weekend edition, with a big story on the new trend of “real-estate enabled divorces,” people cashing out on their houses and their marriages when they benefit most. I can’t read further than the first few paragraphs.

She says “you don’t call him your boyfriend.” And she is right. I don’t know what to call this thing made of words and carefully avoided promises. I don’t know how to bridge the expectations of my well meaning friends and what happens in my sedimentary layers. If I had to, I would spread my fingers over my ribs and say I hope he would consider that home.


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