Sunday, March 27, 2005

New York break: ...and you'll find that you're in the rotogravure (or blog)

An Easter parade? Of sorts. More like very many people walking. I did not know that this really took place: along Fifth Avenue, in front of St. Patrick's.
Hurry up, little one, we're going to see some cool Easter bonnets, just like yours... Posted by Hello
This is February and we're at the Mardi Gras, right? No??  Posted by Hello
Don't mess with my girl, I mean guy, I mean... whatever. Posted by Hello
Step aside, cat-in-the-hat. Posted by Hello
It's all in the pearls... Posted by Hello
Dogs with hats? strange world... Men with baskets -- now that makes sense. Posted by Hello

New York break: the Cloisters, 2005

Exactly forty years have passed since I last visited the Cloisters in New York. To the month.
I do believe the Cloisters contain the finest pieces of Medieval European art on this side of the Ocean. But that’s not why I went there – not this day, not forty years ago.

On a bluff, overlooking the Hudson River Valley, they are magnificent.

I never understood, when I was little and dragged there by my parents, that the Cloisters were real – that the columns and the art within were brought over from Europe.

I remember going there in my childhood on the off-Sundays: when my parents hadn’t the will to go elsewhere (Bear Mountain in New Jersey! Miniature golf! Coney Island! Please, not the Cloisters!).

My last visit was when I wasn’t quite twelve. My mother’s closest friend in New York was dying of lung cancer and my mother had gone to see her one last time – to say good-bye. Afterwards, we went to the Cloisters.

My mother wore sunglasses frequently (she liked to imitate Jacqueline Kennedy in this) and so it was not unusual to see her hidden behind the dark lenses.

But that Sunday, she was also unreachable. Baricaded in her own grief, she was unavailable. I have pictures of her then – I always carried my little Kodak with me – and even those little snapshots demonstrate this side of her that I was only then beginning to understand: when tragedy struck, she accepted no consolation.

Exactly fifteen years later, again in spring, after freshly moving to Madison, my own good friend died of cancer. I saw it coming: soon after we became close, she said to me: I did my research, I will be dead within a year. She was.

The Cloisters are the most peaceful spot in all of New York, of that I am certain. I went there yesterday morning, the day before Easter. I went alone, but I was not as alone as on the day when my mother drew boundaries around herself or when my friend faded away. There are good and not so good ways of being alone.

To my Ocean community of family, friends, bloggers and readers -- if you celebrate Easter, have a happy one. And in any event, may we all stay happily connected to each other, in the many good ways available to us.
Finding spring joy, in a Cloister courtyard Posted by Hello
in her other hand, a bird... Posted by Hello
the Cloisters on the Hudson Posted by Hello