Friday, May 2, 2008

The Aqua Mustang 13 - FRIENDS?

And it was not just the addition of parks to my life that made everything so new and different. I hardly ever saw my friends of a lifetime who were still living in Manhattan. Which might have been fine with them, but I think was not for it but made one of them, the political writer Walter Karp, angry enough to call and shout at me as he was finishing his usual a six-pack on a Sunday afternoon, which was the time I had for years, when in town, been part of a group including Walter that often met at his apartment, which I had once used as mine in exchange for he and his striking wife Regina using an apartment I had had for time on Cheney Walk in London.

This time when I was moving in these intimations of counryside was when it began to seem to very strange to me that I never met by chance the many people I had known in the many different times and live I had lived in New York between my lives in the Balkans or the Middle East or Far East or Africa – lives that went all the way back, though I did not remember the city part of that first year of my life, just the chaos in a drawing room of an old steam train that was taking me in my first summer up to the White Mountains, which was supposed to be the place from which no one of my blood would ever escape.

I did not see the people from all those years in the city between years of travel, even when I walked on streets I knew they lived on. But I was meeting by chance, nearly every day, people I had come to know in the past few months , some of them from these new meetings where we were all attempting to unravel our lives. I saw them on the streets and on the subway and in the parks and in the lobbies of movie houses where the new Traufaut would be showing. Saw them in coffee houses I had never noticed before. Saw them in all these places just as I never saw the people – there must have been thousands of them by now -- from what I had thought had already been such a long and, though often discouraging, basically fruitful life. And what more recently I had thought of, as I entered what seemed like the ultimate and final depression, thought of as a life that could never change, no matter how often I went away – which was something that at one time had given me hope and a feeling of solidity, and by now made me fear that life would end without any of its possibilities realized.

But these new people. These new places. And always the pull of countryside, countryside even if it was just a single tree coming out of a square of earth in the sidewalk. This pull. And the pull of the museums, that I had nearly forgotten, as I had nearly forgotten my first time in Paris at the Jeu de Paume, nearly forgotten my first year in New York with my girlfriend Vannie, an action painter with whom I went over and over again to look at Franz Kline and deKooning and Pollack, and also Rembrandt. His deep sad self-portraits, and the silent but exciting Polish Rider. Nearly forgot what I loved even in the crushingly lonely times that I tried to edit out of life. And also Central Park, where long ago I had known what I honored. All of which might never have been retrieved if this present time had never happened.

And now I was going further afield. To the Bronx Botanical Garden. To Bear Mountain. To a small house in Sullivan Country owned by a photographer who, like me, had been with the New People’s Army in the Philippines. And on I went to Vermont – and this seemed a far bigger start and change than when I first took a freighter to Italy, a plane to Bangkok, a market truck into a place with no roads in Central Africa.

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