Friday, April 25, 2008
The Aqua Mustang 11 - AMAZED
I’m still amazed that I can wake up in this sinewy girl’s big not quite fully furnished shared apartment, New York City summer air wafting over us from wide open windows that have coal soot on the sills, and we have no clothes on, so I wake up celebrating, for I know it is another of these new moments to remember. I am still amazed to have this sort of history that I had dreamt of, not the ultimate love story yet but so much else. That I can wake up and we have a history, me with Rae, who studies design at Parsons and has that look. Lovely Rae, short for Ramona. All this so amazing for this is still the fifties, the awful Eisenhower time in history where my small generation – small because people took precautions and did abortions in the Depression – is supposed to be the silent generation, and you rarely fuck outside marriage except in whorehouses, as I was doing well two years back in Cuba, and hardly use the word fuck for anything except swearing. But I have lived experience now that proves this new time in America does not have to be this way, for now I am actually living in New York and it seems clear that in New York the fifties never took hold, the same way I would find places the sixties never hit, such as my family’s places in New Hampshire, which would be as innocent of the sixties as places like Indianapolis – as innocent of the sixties as, thank God, this Manhattan I know was innocent of the fifties. I do not know that a time would soon come soon when I would would look and look to find Rae again and could not find her.
Barely awake with Rae and there is someone calling out. Rae's angry landlady has appeared and there are not supposed to be people whose names are not on the lease sleeping in this quite large apartment way over east in the 80s. The landlady goes from room to room inspecting, looking for anyone Rae or her roommates might have let in. The rooms open onto each other in a circle, and I stay just one room ahead of the landlady, my shoes and socks and jockey shorts in one hand, my shirt and khakis in the other. I quietly exit the circle at the front door, dress in the hallway, dash down the stairs.
I stop in for a beer on Third Avenue, sitting on a stool beneath a string of dusty red and green cutout letters spelling Merry Christmas, though this is August. I have a beer now, I think, not so much because I crave it, though I do, but more because the man I mean to be would have a morning beer now – like Humphrey Bogart or a tragic figure out of Fitzgerald.
And then I realize I am very near Carol’s red brick building where Carol has an apartment paid for by her family.I ring her buzzer, even though she is really Harvey’s girlfriend and I had recently slept with her roommate B.J. – B.J. who is so amazingly Southern clever and pretty that when I slept with her I gave no thought to the fact that she had been born missing a hand. And Carol is home alone, and so she and I go the park together and rent a rowboat and the air smells of flowers.
I can go anywhere I like. Another girl who is neither Carol nor Rae nor B.J. is out of town. This wonderful city life. This city that I love. And I am pulled into the park with Carol, this city life now combined with the nature I knew even before I read Keats and Wordsworth. This nature is drawing me almost out of the city.
I think of that late fifties morning I outran the landlady and took Carol to the park now in this time, 30 years later, when everything in my life has changed. It seems like such a big thing now to have headed for the park – something I knew then and am just remembering in this time just before Vermont and the aqua Mustang, this time that I am already on the hunt for what happened in New Hampshire in the dark distant past that led to the violence that is killing my cousins today. I think of the city and those girls from the past where the fifties had lost its power. And I think of how I am drawn physically now to countryside, though as interested still, after all the affairs and a just ended marriage that did not start until I was in my forties, in finding the right woman, the right girl. I put myself back in the time the fifties were dying and I was with Irma whom I met in the Corso, and Anne Marie who arrived when I was staging a show of art I brought up from Haiti. I think of them all now in the eighties these many years after the fifties, now still interested in finding just the right woman to love and to love me. This part about finding the woman, the girl, is something I never forget.
And it seems, 30 years later, like I had somehow lost most of the other part, the part about countryside – countryside drawing me in again now in 1986 to such a degree that, much as I like the world’s cities, I know I will stop breathing without the woods and fields and streams and lakes and mountains that for so long I have avoided.