Two years ago, I was performing at The Punchline in San Francisco, and Robin came to the show with our mutual friend, Dan Spencer.
This particular batch of material was the first time I had touched upon my then still-fresh divorce wounds, and big chunks of it were pretty dark. The next day, I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize. Whoever it was had obviously been to the show and knew my number, so I figured they would reveal themselves at some point and save me the embarrassment of asking who they were.
The Mystery Texter asked how I was REALLY doing. “You can’t fool me. Some of those ‘jokes’ aren’t ‘jokes.” By now I knew that whoever this was had been through what I was enduring, as no one else would know to ask, “What time of day is the hardest?”
He wanted to know how my kids were handling it, all the while assuring me that the storm, as bleak as it was, would one day pass and that I was not, as I was then convinced, a terrible father for visiting a broken home upon my children.
I am not rewriting this story in retrospect to make it dramatic. I did not know who I was texting with. Finally, my phone blipped, and I saw, in a little green square, “Okay, pal. You got my number. Call me. I’ve been there. You’re going to be okay. - Robin.”
That is what you call a human being.
Floor to ceiling doors coaxing the breeze off the Mississippi to join the dinner table, for morning coffee, an afternoon nap. Even closed and shuttered, hiding the modern convenience of air conditioning, still luring the same steady breeze from 1910, 1820, 1730, carrying history with it. Green, green plants thriving in the humidity so high even dry hair becomes always damp and always, always curly. Engulfed and damp and swamp, words that became of a singular meaning, worn as one wears a cloak, wears a rain cloud, wears a slight glow.
[New Orleans, June 2014]
(Source: Flickr / emilykatherine)
you’ll become known for doing what you do. it’s a simple saying, but it’s true…the only way to start being asked to do something you want to do is to start doing that thing on your own.
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.