Between Third & First

2018.05.12-third-and-firstSeventh & Fifty-Ninth to W Ninety-Third 10:30pm

It was one of two things he couldn’t stop thinking about. The red of the Essex House sign fell out of the buildings at the top of an IMAX screen above them — somehow taller than its letterbox, an illusion of the optics and canvas and curvature, and full of the transitions of a Killion blockprint — ocean and sand against cliffs and sloping hills. This was rock and concrete and glass and wood and light.

How could something man-made evoke that grandeur? Improve upon natural wonders of scale? And it was odd that this noise-less, pure screen of buildings swept up motionless, looming, taught, a wave of creation, all designed yet unintentionally grand at the precipice of the base of the park. As if he’d descended to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and translated up into a kinesthetic climb. But this was architectural, landscaped, planned, achieved over a century. With the trees and the twilight, he knew that a photograph would only ever diminish, turning around instead to blue eyes and embarrassingly reaching arms up and then out. Awestruck and dumbfound in a renaissance of impression.

It hung above stretching forever but very much right now — as if he had never seen something so tall and so close at once, and never would again. The path behind the outcropping in the Park some perfect golden ratio between height and distance and scale, the two of them, the round rocks ahead, the tree line inkjet black layering further, blooming jasmine, blooming edges hewn before the isomorphic angle of the buildings in relief, everything proportionally larger and larger and taller and taller.

It would never be this tall again.


 

Fifth & Amsterdam to Flatbush 12:30am

They hadn’t crossed a bridge or a tunnel yet, the driver racing up the FDR, and the two women talked turkishly. The back seat a chemical engineer working hospitality at a wine bar, the passenger seat an artist — best friends, surviving, struggling. His head hurt and — now that he’d been veering out the window at the East River — remembered it had been throbbing for hours but that it didn’t matter. It would stop hurting later, and it hadn’t made any real difference, whether it hurt or not. The artist struggled, tired of it all. The chemist wanted to study further but it a masters, if you aren’t a citizen, is very expensive. She hated how people were rude when they lost their phones. Studied English in Alaska two year ago.

Chemist shares that the artist bawls her eyes out after two pitchers. Artist proclaims their oppositions of creativity and science, that the chemist “she never cries.” But he questioned whether those were actually differences, and that science requires intuition and art requires chemistry. Like the father and his best friend, fighting over the search for the soul and its buried treasures of the head and the heart. He questioned the premise of the search entirely; maybe they were both right and both wrong. The soul was between the two.

How were there so many bridges? Had he ever seen them all yet? Did he know all of the names yet?


 

Flatbush to Thirty-First 2:13pm

I haven’t meditated yet today and, yes, it’s now the afternoon on a Saturday, and so this is the the first time in fifty-eight days I’ve been this flexible and unmoored. But flexibility within a discipline is still a discipline. And while it’s still morning on the west coast, the jetlag handicap expired on the 5th green. The traffic before the bridge begins to question the wisdom of taking the last ten minutes in the apartment before I left to WD-40 the interior entry door’s squeaks away and properly re-hang G’s untracked sliding closet doors. But I’m in the car now, and I feel the gate closing panic increase with each bridge pylon. I had an hour, the train at 3:13pm. But what seemed like it would be thirty minutes was looking like forty or fifty. There’s nothing to be done about it now. So maybe I should just write, start now, on my phone?

Or I could wait for a minute and see what arises if I stopped fretting.

So I do.

What’s actually the top of the list? I try the parable of the thirty-third sitting when it started to rain and the car was a quarter mile away with the hood up and a dead battery trickle charging. We’ve made the turn heading north and I ask the driver to turn off the radio. I take my glasses off and close my eyes. Maybe you don’t have to be sitting motionless? Maybe even that sitting is form of motion, against everything else? Maybe it doesn’t have to be quiet? Once you’re en route you can’t change how you got here or when you’ll get there.

I feel the gravity of the car, the abrupt transitions of streets and potholes, the seat against my back like a slow roller coaster, I feel it pushing me forward, the sirens, the gentle chiming and swinging back and forth of the driver’s guru’s shrine in red and gold seismographing the peaks and valleys of the route. The phone in my pocket buzzes, once. So not a text message. I open my eyes and reach into the pocket to check. A notification:

“Update your destination to speed up your arrival time.”


 

Thirtieth Street to Mountain Street 4:45pm

The car is full but quiet. No radio. The back plays a racing game on his phone. The front listens to Eminem on her headphones. I meditate again.

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