Thursday, March 17, 2005

New York break: Notes en route

Standing in front of the Business School, waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for my cab this afternoon, I encountered, separately, four people (it was a long wait):

1. a colleague on her way to the garage beneath the Business School (most law school profs park there) – we chatted, it was pleasant;

2. a neighbor who teaches at the Bus. School (he was hurrying to a meeting), and who, with the highest level of pity at my plight (a very real possibility of a missed flight) said this to me: “take my car and leave it at the airport, then call and tell me where it is – I’ll get it later” (saint! but at that moment the cab came ---“you should never worry with Union – we’ll never let you down!” yeah, cool, save that for the next rider; it was about as credible as his next comment ---“you didn’t have to lift that suitcase in, I was about to get out and help you…” and finally ---“I don’t have any change – sorry…” Keep it and stuff it, buddy);

3. a blog reader (“do you remember, we met once… I wrote you in Poland…”);

4. and finally, a woman who smiled at me, though I am certain I have never seen her before. Even so, this chance encounter may significantly alter the course of my life. Picture this: she’s dressed in a long woolen coat (too warm for today, I think) of a stunning deep blue-navy color. Her hair is yellow – the kind I suppose a literary type from a previous century would have called “flaxen,” but I associate with Scandinavian women, ones who maybe picked up an outlier gene (from an unexpected past dalliance between their Swedish relative and an interloper Pole?) that passed down a bit of a honeyed tone.

That honeyed flaxen hair against the royal blue coat was so irresistible (yellow against blue) that I seriously thought of calling my man Jason (who loves to talk about hair color, being rather an expert at changing it for people), right then and there, telling him we need to make some changes during my next visit.

When a woman talks about changing her hair entirely (I’d already discussed going short again, but Jason balked: he loves the idea of a 50+ person with long hair, occasionally done up in a pony tail; one doesn’t challenge Jason), you suspect that something’s up. She is redefining herself in some way.

Am I? I’m thinking about it. For the time being, I put aside thoughts of hair and concentrated on giving permission for my cabbie to zip through yellow lights so that I could catch my flight. I did. I am en route LGA as I type this.

Heading into a storm

Class is done. Another hour and I’ll be New York-bound. Or snow-bound. Because as far as I can tell, a winter storm and I will be chasing each other around the Midwest before I finally get closer to the coast. My immediate thought – if I get stranded, at least it wont be like Aurora, Colorado.

But actually I’ve been mulling over a different kind of storm – the one that leads you to create something that roughly can be cast into the domain of “art.” A blogger over at Home Sweet Road writes this about her painting: “My art has always come from darkness.” She muses if she will be able to sustain that quality of painting, now that she has hit a period of tranquility, happiness even.

Will I be reassuring if I write and tell her this: not to worry! People who have lived through a powerful tempest (or two. or three…) never shake it at the core. There is something nicely permanent about that level of sadness which is juicy fuel for all of us who use it to produce the next painting, or chapter in a book. Sweet bedfellows – despair and creativity, egging each other on. They make happiness look soppy and dull.