love. week twenty eight.
city. new york city
I decided to go to Tompkins Square Park to write this afternoon. I had been planning to launch a summer project centered around the park. The idea was to use the park as an anchor, in an attempt to recenter myself outside of myself. How so? I would come to the park for an hour or two each afternoon with no other intention other than to read and/or write. But what would I read and write? The park would decide that for me.
Tompkins Square is such an insanely cool place. Every time I visit, I’m exposed to new kinds of people, new kinds of sounds, new kinds of cultures, new kinds of ideas…
Anyways, the idea was that if I would let the park guide me, my writing (and therefore my thoughts) would end up in really cool and wacky places, where I never could have gotten to by myself. In some ways, that’s exactly what love is. Getting outside of my ego, focusing on something or someone else, and then watching where that leads me.
While I’m on the topic, another idea I had was to write a book. Like, to just sit down one day and write a book. Like, wake up, sit down, and write. And keep writing until I had completed a book. How long would that take? A few days? A few weeks? Months? I have no clue, but at the end of it all I’d have my first book. I wouldn’t be a literary virgin anymore.
Of course, it goes without saying that I haven’t done either of these things. I haven’t even started them. And every once in a while, I’ll remember these projects and feel a bit guilty for not pursuing them. And then I’ll notice my guilt, feel it for a minute or two, and then let it go.
I can have a fun idea without being obligated to it. I’m free. Sometimes I do things and sometimes I don’t. Will I eventually carry out either of these projects? I’ll just have to wait to see. Your guess is as good as mine.
We need to talk about the sky. It’s insane. Wherever I go in the world, I can look up and see this fucking gorgeous neon blue sheet of perfection. Thank god humans don’t control the sky. Then it would be all grey and sticky. Like those nasty foam blocks that line the ceilings of every office building in the world. The front page of the newspaper every day should be: LOOK UP. THE SKY IS BLUE.
Okay, enough ranting. The topic of today’s post was supposed to be my grandmother. I went to visit my grandmother in Atlanta last week. Because of the whole covid thing I hadn’t seen her in a couple years, but now that we’re both vaccinated she finally relented and let me visit.
But to be honest, now that I’m sitting here, I can’t really think of much to say about it. One thing that struck me is just how slowwww everything was with her. Because she’s so slow, she can do like one or two things in an entire day. What would be a quick visit to the doctor for me, turns into a four hour ordeal that needs to be carefully planned and executed. Throwing out the trash takes 30 minutes, and another 30 to recover. She even talks and thinks slowly. What happens when your life is put into slow motion?
I’ve heard that love flourishes in stillness. I wonder if old people are better lovers. It doesn’t seem so. She seems irritated most of the time.
I asked her if she’s afraid of dying. She said not really. “I don’t really have anything to live for.” She hopes to fall in love again. Since that young soldier she met as a teenager, her love has never been reciprocated by the men in her life. That faceless soldier will forever be the one who got away. The one who could’ve been. Endless potential, unconsummated love. (Speaking of unconsummated love, I think that the sexual revolution destroyed romance. In a world where every love is consummated, and thereby destroyed, love has the half-life of an orgasm. I really do enjoy sex, but sometimes I wish I had more self restraint. If only I could restrain myself, then I’d have all sorts of beloveds. My imagination is far more powerful than my orgasm.)
My grandmother was married, and divorced, twice. Neither of her husbands really loved her. I’m taking her word on this, I’ve never met either of them. I guess it’s a bad idea to marry the person you love. It’s much safer to marry the person who loves you. I guess that would make you the bad one though. Okay then, I suppose it’s best if you both love each other.
That being said, she’s not unhappy.
She feels like a bad grandmother. I can sense it. But she lacks the energy or the willpower to be the grandmother she wishes to be.
She’s so proud of me. She paraded me around to her neighbors, the people who work in her building, the people at her synagogue. I’m a trophy. There is someone in the world for whom my simple existence is their trophy.
Family is a strange thing. I’ve always felt a very strong connection to my immediate family, but I only have one living grandparent and would only rarely see any of my distant relatives. I have absolutely no sense of my family’s history. Most of my friends growing up had grandparents who escaped the holocaust, giving them some sort of connection to the old country. But my family has been American for several generations, cutting me off from the old continent without establishing an identity in the new one. But on this trip, my first to Atlanta, my grandmother brought me to visit her parents graves. As I stood above them, I knew that I was their direct descendent, that my story was inextricably tied to theirs, that they had built the literal foundations for my life… but they were dead and I would never meet them. Their parents (my grandmother’s grandparents) were also buried in Atlanta, but even thinking about visiting them makes my head swim. They’re the ones who came to the US. They’re the ones who saved me from the Holocaust. They’re the ones who took the risk of leaving everything behind, and starting off into the unknown. I am their unknown.
I’m not really sure where I’m going with all this, so I’ll just end it there. One last thing. I’m thinking of doing a Leonard Cohen session. Like spending a day or two with his music and seeing what it brings up. Stay tuned.