These Aches

There are lonely moments: cycling past the Fort Lauderdale airport on the west side, where only cabs and parking shuttles traverse. It’s calm going, few traffic lights to make you stop, lose momentum, and have to work your way back up. I like going by the airport. I like going by railroad tracks, thundering freight to far places, I like going by old warehouses, old armories, old storage sites. In the dark, they loom. They loom unlike things of ghost and dark and old. They loom like only industry can, half-sleeping.

And I was a ghost thing myself, trailing through the night, lit and shadowed with sodium arc oranges and airport taxiway blues. I whispered by, a tumble of leaves, a breath of sea wind taking corners wide, legs turning a cadence I could hardly feel, though I carried my heart low in my toes. I work my heartache through my limbs; to heal my sorrows, I walk on coals. My body thinks for me, surrounded by the saddest songs I know: “Et je reste là/ À t’attendre, comme chaque fois/ Toi, tu n’en sais rien/ Tu fais comme si j’étais loin,” sings Coralie Clément, and the jet taxis next to me, just beyond the chain link fence. Above, another roars in and drowns out my music, the air rattling my lungs.

I can only pause and think, “There! I want to be there! On that jet about to fly away!” aching with all I have left. I feel like I haven’t much left, but experience has taught me better. I can suffer long and well. I can ache on and on.

The jet taxis past its blue-lit path, and all I can muster is an empty place for New York or Boston or anywhere but here— here, where I know I’ll still ache. I can pretend I won’t ache in New York. It’s a pleasant thought. I want to be an old lady right now, want live in some obscure corner of Queens, want to walk barefoot in winter to Rockaway Beach holding a quahog shell, clenching my toes around the cold sand and dying in full lotus wondering who will take care of my cat when I’m gone. I want to be ancient and instead live alone in Red Hook, watch the reinvention of industrial decay around me as I slowly fall apart. I want to listen to the floor boards one last time in a particular apartment in Kew Garden Hills, the day before the forsythias decide to riot, and fold liver-spotted hands in my lap, done at last.

Wanting does nothing; I should be done with desire. The jet fires forward and away. It was probably bound for New Mexico. Georgia. DC. And I will probably stay here and ache, and it will be well. Time is marvelous; we perceive it passing. “J’entends les bris de glace/ J’ai perdu la face/ J’ai perdu ta trace.”

No Fear of Flying

Dear friends, dear loves, I don’t believe it’s a friend’s or lover’s job to catch you when you fall. I can’t. We don’t live in a padded world, and we can’t protect each other from it.

No. Fall. Fall and shatter. You need that. I need it, when I fall. Instead, I believe as a friend or lover that it’s my job to be there to sort out the aftermath, to be there with the first aid, and the towels, to sit vigil, to mend.

But the fall is yours. It has to be. How else are we measly humans supposed to learn to fly?

Comfort Food

There are few foods I liked as child that I still like today. That’s why the concept of comfort food is a bit strange to me. I can list almost everything that childhood me enjoyed: hot dogs with mustard, chicken, black olives, mac and cheese, Rice Krispies, chocolate milk, lobster legs, potato pancakes, and orange sherbet. Only in my childhood lexicon it was “sherbert,” rather like “spaghetti” was “basghetti.” I used to also like the presentation called “Cubic Scoops,” with the orange “sherbert” and vanilla ice cream stacked in blocks, and we’d go purchase it at Almacs instead of Ro-Jacks, for some reason.

And this list? Comprehensive. I’m not quite certain how I survived into adulthood with a diet like that, but I did. My palate has broadened since then.

There are very few of these foods I eat today. Foods that comfort me now are things like eel maki with a bowl of miso soup, or sautéed Brussels spouts with garlic and salt, or lamb served with peppers and olives and feta. They make me feel warm and cared for, exactly the thing one needs when one is sick or sad or hurting. Most of the foods of my childhood… just remind me of my childhood, which involved a lot of yelling, and the food, a lot of preservatives.

But I haven’t my own kitchen to experiment in, these days. Making these foods is involved. So instead, last night, I walked to the grocery. In the frozen section, I scanned the ice cream offerings, following my sweet tooth. That tooth, while still something to contend with, has shrunk of late. But there they were, isolated in the corner: the sherbets. I picked up the orange. Blue Bell, in a round plastic tub, not a box. That was okay.

I walked back to the house, lost in music and melancholy, and when I arrived, served myself of the melty mass. One taste. One taste and it was summer in New England. Milk and orange and cicadas. Milk and orange and Catwings at the Norton library, in the basement children’s section of the old building. Milk and orange and turtles in buckets caught by neighborhood kids down by the river, my dog with them, dripping with pond slime, her odd eyes laughing. So what did I do? Cry, of course. I always cry. I didn’t know a taste could capture all the escapes I had known as a kid.

But it wasn’t a comfort.

Grey Blessings

Because we are neither creatures of the light, nor creatures of the dark. Because I needed to refine it, and say it again. Because when we cry out, we seek a response. Because the ache will not be erased with platitudes. Because:

Blessed are the liars,
for they make room for what’s not yet there.

Blessed are the hypocrites,
for revealing paradox in its infinite glory.

Blessed is the dark,
not for balancing the light, but for being the dark.

Blessed are the endings of things,
for in cessation, differentiation.

Blessed are the suicides,
for there is choice, even in this.

Blessed are the wakeful,
for their thrift with small hours.

Blessed are the dreamless,
for at least their sleep will be untroubled by nightmares.

Blessed are the broken,
for in their agony, empathy.

Blessed are the guilt-ridden,
for they know harm, and fear to cause it.

Blessed is the night,
for only then can the stargazers use their gifts.