mercredi, septembre 28, 2005

Who's that Pretty Blogger in that Mirror There? (The What Mirror Where Remix)

I’m giddy today, and I don’t care who knows it.

I just deplaned after a very short trip to NY/NJ (how short? No suitcase short). I flew into JFK because the ticket there was $400, and the ticket to Newark (much closer to where I was going) was $1400. And my '05 T & E budget is starting to dry up, friends. Anyway, I had a nice, scenic trip from my hotel to the airport; the city just charmed me (again).

At JFK this morning, a young man, fully regaled in Raider gear (top to bottom, and it was so clean there is no way it has been washed) came out of the McDonald’s in Terminal 4, showed me a Styrofoam cup with dark brown fluid in it and asked me:

Him: “What is this”
Me: “Coffee?”
Him: “And what is this” – showing me a paper cup with small frozen blocks of ice in it.
Me: “A cup of ice.”
Him: “Can’t drink this (lifts coffee). It’s too f---in’ hot. That’s how come they got sued.”
Me: “And that's how come you got ice.”
Him: “And that's how come I got ice. You’s smart, but I’s smart too. What's happenin? How you livin'...?"

And then we talked for awhile. I made no pretense about being cool or hip, and he seemed to make not notice of the fact that I am totally square (is that what the kids say these days?), though I'm sure he did notice, he didn't betray it. And I really enjoyed our conversation.

After we took off, we made a loop over the water and then circled back to give an amazing view of Manhattan from about 10,000 feet. It occurred to me that after all these years, all my trips to NYC were either by train (from D.C.) or brought me in under cloud cover, so I had never seen that particular view.

And it was amazing to me. I got a sense for how big Central Park is (from the ground it's huge - from the sky, expressed in proportion to the island itself, it's unreal), and it really made my heart sing. Seriously, it has to be the most expensive stretch of single-use real estate in the world. And realizing how long it has stood undisturbed, and how long it has existed without being developed, I was suddenly filled with this sense that our human race might make it after all. Man, we’ve blown it plenty of times (and my giddiness will ebb if I start to think about it), but every once in awhile we get it just right.

Other things contribute to my giddiness.

I was upgraded on the way home, which I don’t really care about, but I had lunch (and I was hungry and, amazingly, the lunch was vegetarian).

A man, a few rows up studied the Talmud, and I wanted to talk to him.

An AfAm man one row up read Welch’s new book, Winning, and I wanted to talk to him.

An AfAm woman across the row from me worked on her laptop. She looked like an AfAm Carly Fiorina, and I wanted to talk to her.

An Asian woman had two seats and spent the time composing music (with headphones, and what I wouldn’t have given to hear her composition) on a synthesizer.

On the way to NYC, I read “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and happened upon what is, in my view, a single paragraph that displays Capote’s genius (for a single story that displays his genius, read “A Christmas Memory”). It is excerpted here:

“Mag Wildwood couldn’t understand it, the abrupt absence of warmth on her return; the conversations she began behaved like green logs, they fumed but would not fire. More unforgivably, people were leaving without taking her phone number. The Air Force colonel decamped while her back was turned, and this was the straw too much: he’d asked her to dinner. Suddenly she was blind. And since gin to artifice bears the same relation as tears to mascara, her attractions at once dissembled. She took it out on everyone…”

Anyway, the funny young man, the view, the park, my fellow passengers in all their rich diversity and excellence, the horrible tease of seeing music composed but not hearing it, re-reading the Capote section and writing it in my Moleskine…well… it all made me feel really good about people. We are so different and so the same. We do phenomenal things sometimes. We make machines that fly and parks that exalt. We make art. And yes, I’m tempted to counterbalance it with all the horrible things we do, but today, I’m not gonna do it.

I’m giddy today. I don’t care who knows it, and I hope that, as you read this, a small little dash of happiness finds its way to you.