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January 10, 2007

Everything comes and goes, marked by lovers and styles of clothes

Here I am, basking in the rays of my flatscreen monitor in the wee hours as I occasionally am, insomnia victim once again. When I was up at five a.m. a week ago, though, it wasn't due to insomnia -- it was because my lover was in town for seven hours. He'd called me a few weeks before and arranged a layover on a London-->San Francisco flight. I was to pick him up at JFK at midnight and drop him back off at seven ack emma. I worried over the course of those weeks that the visit would leave me upset, that it would seem tantalizing but not satisfying. I was deliriously happy to discover myself wrong. I've developed quite a taste for the ephemeral over the last several years, and this turned out to be the ultimate proof of that.

I've always been an impatient person. There's a photo of me at five years old, pouting because I'm in my party dress, but there is NO PARTY YET. When things finally do happen, I've often hung on to them hard, not wanting to let go -- I can't count the number of restaurants and parties I've closed down. Looking at all that from my current vantage, though, I can see that they're two sides of the same coin, and are both just me wishing I could control the flow of time.

Learning to garden eight or ten years ago started to change that. I got the hang of seasons; realized that winter wasn't simply a blank spot in the calendar for plants, but instead a vital, necessary downtime. I learned that although my beloved daffodils don't last all that long, they really will come back next year. It seemed intolerable at first, that some of the flowers I love most should bloom for such a brief period of time. But now I cherish the first sight of their buds, watch over their transition into flower, and clip the faded blossoms when they're blown so the bulbs will stay strong and store their energy for next year's growth.

Last winter, in February of 2005, Christo put up hundreds of orange gates in Central Park. I'd first heard about Christo many years before, and always said of him in my head, "Isn't He That Guy With the Islands and the Pink Stuff?". When I read about the Gates for the first time, I didn't really understand what the plan was; I didn't hate it, but I also didn't think on it very hard. He was just That Guy. But then the summer before the project went up I read an extended piece in the New Yorker and I GOT IT. There were conceptual drawings of the Gates, and I read what he and others had to say about the project, and I could see it, and I was very, very excited. In the fall the Met hosted a special exhibit on the Gates, with lots of the conceptual drawings as well as examples of the supports and the fabric for the gates themselves. I squee'd around the whole exhibit, vibrating and bouncing. As the date for the opening grew closer, though, I got nervous. I really didn't believe that the gates, in situ, could be as splendid as I'd imagined they would be.

I'd never been happier to be wrong. Somehow Christo knew exactly what they'd look like. As we roamed through the park, all over the park, the gates in place looked *precisely* as Christo had drawn them. But they were even more luminous and spectacular than he could possibly convey on paper. And throughout the two weeks that they were up in the park, an intrinsic part of my enjoyment was my understanding that they were going to GO AWAY SOON. Every time I visited them (and I went several times), I knew that I was seeing something special, something specific, something uniquely located in a time and a place. When I bid them farewell I felt like I'd really appreciated them fully, and would remember them always. Their very ephemerality in the tangible world tattooed their memory on my heart.

Just a few weeks ago I had another burst of appreciation for a once-in-a-lifetime art event, although it wasn't something I'd anticipated or even known about before the weekend it was happening. Down in Soho there is an abandoned building, 11 Spring Street, that's been covered in graffiti for years. It finally sold recently, but the developers gave the graffiti artists a month or so to do anything they wanted to the building, to cover it inside and out with art, before they start the gutting and rehabbing. The artists ran with this, and then opened the site to viewers for three days only. I found out about it just before it opened, but for various complicated life reasons couldn't get there until the last day. I'd known it would be popular, but I wasn't expecting a line that went, literally, all the way around a whole city block. There was no way to get in, and I'd never get to see the inside of the building. And yet? That felt completely okay. Francis and I spent about an hour wandering around taking pictures of the outside, and people-watching, and I knew that the folks who *did* get inside were going to obsessively document everything, so I *would* get to see it. The whole thing just felt joyous. There were artists still working on the building even on the last day, putting up pieces that would last for just a day or two before being powerwashed off the walls. Wheatpaste daylilies, as it were.

And so that brings me to last week. I drove to the airport with my heart hammering in my chest, full of desire and longing and pent-up excitement. But when we finally reunited I felt utterly peaceful. We spent the fullest seven hours I could have hoped for, and when I brought him back to the terminal and saw him off, I found that instead of weeping, I was beaming, filled with bliss. I didn't even have to remind myself of my practice while he was here, but if I had, I might have said to myself, "Listen: This moment right now? Everything is okay. Be here. Be in the moment. Let the future take care of itself." But I didn't have to say those words, because I felt them. I was there, in that ongoing present, and everything was right in the world and I was perfectly, absolutely happy.

Posted by Rose at January 10, 2007 05:00 AM


I got in! I took an INSANELY long lunch that first Friday it was open and made Jeff come into town and meet me and it truly was amazing. Come over sometime and see the pictures?

Posted by: Amber at January 12, 2007 12:20 PM

""Listen: This moment right now? Everything is okay. Be here. Be in the moment. Let the future take care of itself.""

Brilliant. Can I quote you on this my friend? I would love to use this in my "Box Of Blessings" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Wenchys_boxofblessings/

So glad I found you. :o)

Posted by: Wenchy at January 13, 2007 01:06 AM

A wonderful story and one I hope i will be creating one day too :)

Posted by: Dan at February 5, 2007 05:26 PM

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