The Beautiful Flight Paths of Fireflies by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu
—Stacie Cassarino, Summer Solstice
Sunday in the city | Neighborhood stoops bathed in early June sunlight, I forgot. The spring semester was long and cold.
Out of habit, masked as routine, I took the subway to the library this morning, but got off early. Quickly, without thinking. The lights on the train suddenly too dim, too much not-the-sun. Even the thought of the library too claustrophobic.
Lower Manhattan still empty, no lines for coffee, a few tourists wearing backpacks, and I thought I might be the luckiest. The shadows and the sun and the loneliness and the independence, and I might still be the luckiest, I forgot.
I followed the sun down the curved streets. The curviest streets in Manhattan? Through the park and found a bench in the sun. Beginnings and endings, I come here. A ritual now, the only ritual maybe, but almost two years old and very much mine. Lady Liberty, standing strong, always, with open arms. One year ago, I thought it was a beginning. But it turned into an ending, then looped itself into a middle. This year it is an ending, although I couldn’t tell you which one. I don’t pretend to know much of anything these days. I feel lighter this way, without the weight of the answers.
Pink shoulders pulled me out of the sun, and I meandered towards the subway. With a sharp right into the National Museum of the American Indian. Research, I thought. Instead, it was a deep reminder of the Saturdays I spent in the NMAI in DC from open to close. The hours I spent undoing the 9-5 and remembering how to breathe, how to live.
"It’s funny how life circles," I texted.
"Always does," came the instant reply.
Not research, I reminded myself. Deadlines, funding, summer job, I reminded myself. Finally got back on the subway. Walked the blocks to the library in the shadows of scaffolding. When I finally arrived, the security guard reminded me. The library is closed on summer Sundays. I forgot.
I remember now. All summer, I’ll be out in the sunlight. Beginning or endings or middles, I’ll be out in the sunlight.
—Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
Last night | A small piece of an almost-360-degree view of the city. It could have been someone else’s life, someone else’s NY. The midtown law firm, the mahogany cigar club, the leather-seated booth in a dimly lit restaurant, the rainy cab ride down the east side of the city. My New York has many more subway rides and pizza slices. I look up far more often than I look down. But last night, that was my life too, as much of a stranger as I felt to it. Work I’ve done for six years, I counted as I stood there listening to the acceptance speech. Faces I’ve known for almost as many. Official invitation because I am a “student” but those who know (those who are really on the inside) say only “how good it is to see you again.” After the applause, I left that world, the world where twenty-two year old me thought I’d spend my life, and walked alone, uptown a few blocks among the black suits to slip under the arm of a familiar black suit: “it is so good to see you.” We all left the smoke filled lounge for dinner around the block to talk about investments, but also to say again all the things we’ve said before, to pick it all up where we left it, to know which questions to ask and which to leave unspoken. To know and to be known. Last night was my life too, my New York too.
I went to Ireland a couple weeks ago to give a speech at University College Dublin. The students sent me a video clip from the portion of my speech where I took a member of the audience and demonstrated my approach and interview process. For those of you who are curious about such things, it’s a fun video and provides a pretty nice summation:
This is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. It has the reflective quality of a TED talk and has me thinking about a lot of what he says. In no particular order:
- how interactions with strangers on the NYC streets have become part of my daily life and how I react to the different people who approach me every day;
- the energy I give off and the energy I receive;
- how to create intimacy quickly and conduct a good interview (methodologically);
- the importance of stories; and
- persistence, failure, and lessons learned.
"Strong is the New Pretty" is a new photo series by Kate Parker which shows her two daughters and their friends "just as they are: loud, athletic, fearless, messy, joyous, frustrated. I wanted to celebrate them, just as they are, and show them that is enough. Being pretty or perfect is not important. Being who they are is."
Photos by Kate T. Parker.
—Iain S. Thomas, I Wrote This for You
Working on this, currently.