On our third or fourth night in New York, when we were sleeping on air mattresses on the bare floor and the walls were unblemished and the children were still babies--everything so pure and new---a blimp flew over our building. We rushed to the bedroom window and watched as it slowly, elegantly approached----very low----and we marveled. The children could clearly make out the Snoopy on the insurance ad, and I remember seeing the people in the cab as the blimp moved toward us in its stately eminince. It lifted before it reached the window and slipped over the building, close enough to reach out and touch.
We said, "Wow, New York is amazing with blimps always flying over our bedroom window close enough to touch." It was amazing and we waited for another blimp to arrive, but so far it's never happened again.
Sometimes on the occasional evening, after the children are asleep and the dishes are done, the garbage taken out and the dog walked, when I've climbed into bed and I'm alone reading, I feel a certain tug pull at my heart. Something is hanging over me. It's him again, I know. He's out there, and I feel him. I pause, knowing I shouldn't pay heed to the distraction but inevitably I do. My mind wanders to the end of the street where Gus, the polar bear who lives in the zoo, is probably crying.
Outside my window, a thousand cities, a cruel world. And Gus, mourning the death two years ago of Eva, his one love and only friend. In his grief, he is drained of his magnificence. His fur hangs off him in massive blankets. Does he even bother to seek respite from the rain? He hardly cares enough to adjust his front paw and rest his head more comfortably. The swimming pools of his enclosure are stagnant and too blue. Are the nights worse than the days, I wonder, or does the stillness bring relief? His sadness is so heavy that sometimes on the occasional evening, when the traffic is quiet or the moon is full, when it's particularly still or exceptionally cold, I feel the weight of it in my heart.
But then I think, in his life he's never known the arctic tundras, lingering dawns, long treks. He's never still-hunted a wild seal or mated in the wild. He has no scars or broken teeth from fights with other males. But maybe not forever. Maybe he will be free one day. Maybe, like Aslan*, one day he too will stand up and when he opens his mouth to roar his face will become so terrible that no one will dare look at him, and all the trees in front of him will bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind. And maybe he too will say---his eyes bright, his limbs quivering, "We have a long journey to go."
Late in the first spring in New York---though it seemed by the spring that we had been here our whole lives---I was ill and the illness obliterated everything for three whole months. I wasn't in a basement pulling stones out of the wall to curl up in a cave; there was no blood. But the days were very bright, and the afternoons were long and jagged. It's hard to remember exactly, but when the birds start speaking Greek it's always a bit of a headache for everyone involved.
When a friend came from Italy, we went to the Armory a half a block away and walked inside the enormous acreage of space. It was a silent old sailing ship, abandoned, full of cool and shadows and a dusty smell of attic. The light was soft.
Ernesto Neto's installation silenced everyone who entered, filled the space so peaceful and delicate and ephemeral, billowy gauze, draping or taut. We entered the corridors of silky light; fabric pods of turmeric, clove, ginger, black pepper and cumin hung like stalacites. I did not feel better then. But later I did. I started walking and talking again and there was a transformation, and to me this visit was its symbol. I had entered a womb filled with impossible light.