18 April 2016 – Without alarm a fire truck pulled up to the curb across from the museum. Three burly men in night blue uniforms hopped out and languidly conferred on the sidewalk. A woman with a phone to her ear rushed toward them, flailing her free hand. The firemen huddled around her. She animated to whoever was on the phone that she had to go. The woman’s hands were everywhere. A fidgety small thing in the company of huge men. Yet, after a short briefing, she got them hustling into the donair shop a couple doors down. The woman approached the door but hesitated, as if she couldn’t bare to go in. She turned away. Brought hands to head and clutched hair. I had a clear view of her face but couldn’t see her eyes (big sunglasses). Still, for those few seconds she looked the picture of helplessness. Then an ambulance blared onto the scene. A small crowd had begun to form, phones at the ready. Even around me, across the street, a number of passersby stopped in their tracks. I lost sight of woman when my bus arrived.
Before coming home I stopped for a coffee. At the table beside me a featureless man was taking photographs of Philip Roth paperbacks. He made arrangements of the books (stacked, fanned out, fallen domino, side by each, etc) and from various angles took photos with his phone. I was engrossed. Not in what he was doing but by the books. That I’d never read Philip Roth. At one point the man placed the books on the seat of the chair nearest me and asked if I wouldn’t mind that my feet were in the shot.
While at the cafe I wrote in my phone:
That the oddities of others are their normal. Just as your own normal may be odd to others. That perhaps we should feel grateful for being able to choose our oddities. And that, in general, we can do so without a license. However passively or actively we incorporate them.
On the way to catch the train I passed a billboard. Head-on upperbody shot of waif-ish girl, strap of top off one shoulder having fallen to expose upper arc of areole. The ad was for a bigname in fashion but I couldn’t see beyond the sickly thin girl. Who could’ve been 12 or 25. She had the haggard look of reckless substance abuse and, on a passing glance, no breasts to speak of.
Aboard the train I listened to PJ Harvey’s ‘Community of Hope’ on repeat and tapped into my phone:
Life as spectator sport.
Crawling all cars.
Rules governing ocelots.
Diplomacy: that little word bigwigs like to drop when they either want or don’t want to give up something.
Tact: another little word many bigwigs don’t seem to have.
An open bar with no one in it, not even a bartender.
In the park, on my last leg home, something in a tree caught my eye. A blue pinwheel. Hanging upside down from a branch. Spinning wildly, though I felt no wind.
Such was the stuff of my day. None of it quite as significant to me now as the discovery that my favorite towel is going to bare threads.
The towel once belonged to Marcus and is among the few items I still have of his.
Remembering writing him a letter some weeks after he died. To tell him why he was no longer with us, how it happened etc. Framed as a letter it let me get the ordeal out of my head. Stumbling upon this method of communicating with him was huge for me. We were always texting each other and writing emails (for the longer material). That was one of the most difficult things to get used to—no more off-the-cuff remarks about whatever, no simple words exchanged, no emails, no phone calls, no knowing.