Sunday, June 8, 2008

9 PM from the Big Apple

I am in New York, again, this time on a business trip. The weather is brutally hot. I ate lunch at a small expensive sandwich shop on the SeaPort, the restaurant was crowded, the server sat me on a corner of an already occupied table. My dinner mates were from Ireland, but I was weary and not in the mood to hear tell of their family vacation so I opened my computer and did an impressive job of acting occupied through lunch.

But there was one thing I couldn't help but notice. The young girl (she was probably 15) was wearing a shirt with her bra showing in the back. The straps of her bra were twisted. It looked painful to the point when I couldn't stop myself from offering to straighten her out. "Would you like me to untangle your bra strap?" I asked her. She laughed and said yes. It was a strange thing of me to ask, and a strange thing for her to accept. But it didn't seem to bother either of us, as two women who have to deal with these inconveniences in life. I fixed it, she was grateful, I paid my bill and walked out onto the boardwalk.

Along the way back to the hotel, I stopped in Borders bookstore on Wall St and Broadway to get out of the oppressive heat that had settled over New York. I ordered a Dean and Deluca large ice tea, I drank the entire cup without stopping to breath. I would have asked for another but there were no free refills and the tea had cost 4 bucks and tasted old and filmy.

Borders was a fitting place for me to spend an afternoon. I collect books in the manner that some women collect shoes. I adore books, but more like a piece of art, rarely finding time or patience to read more than a few lines.

For this reason, and because I commute 40 minutes each way to work, I greatly enjoy books on tape. My all time favorite is a delicious little novel … Eat, Pray, Love.

Though I obviously own this book on cd, I like typography, oh and cracking book binds. For months I've wanted to buy a paper copy of that book, for a specific purpose that might make some cringe, cover your ears at this part, I want to own a paper copy of this book so that I can cut out pages and post them in my journal. Really I need two copies, in case I cut one side but needed the text from the other side of the page too. Throwing myself in front of the morality book train a little more forcefully, I admit to you that I have already cut up a number of well written book passages that have made my heart patter, including, sigh, a couple of passages from Genesis out of two gently used Bibles.

So I'm looking at Eat, Pray, Love, and it's $15, no discount. And I'm thinking about my favorite passage in which she describes a beautiful Venetian woman who fell in love with a man who left her with three children and a broken heart. The author describes the woman as saying "He was powerful, and I died of love in his shadow."

This passage makes my intestines wiggly. It moves me profoundly into a state of sad irrepair. I want to cut this passage out and paste it in my journal so that I can mourn with this woman, in an emo trance I'll call poetry.

But $15 just to mutilate this book for a passage… is that sound commerce?…. I pick up the book, fan the pages against my palm, (this is a strange habit I have which allows me to feel the energy of the book without reading it, quacky I know, bite me), and then I bend the paperback up and down looking at the cover. I opened up the book somewhere in the middle of the tale, and am baffled to look down at the words "He was powerful, and I died of love in his shadow." By dumb chance I'd turned right to the passage that I'd been mulling over for the last 15 minutes, and honestly I'd been mulling over for the last 15 months since I initially heard those words.

I don't need to tell you folks, that's some kinda magic.

Nevertheless, I didn't buy the book. Instead I picked up 2 books on graphic design and the latest Chuck Palahniuk novel.

I opened the 15 foot high doors, with relative ease, and walked out on the Manhattan streets, shoving the Borders bag into my massive yellow tote. And then I realized it was raining, pouring rain, and the road was steaming from the days heat. Street vendors quickly wrapped up the watches, t-shirts, and handbags on their tables, and replaced them with umbrellas and rain ponchos. Witnessing this efficient crossover of goods, I concluded that New York street vendors have perfected the art of opportunism. Wall Street indeed.

Back at the hotel I ordered an overpriced Margareta pizza from a local pizza oven, and cuddle under the covers to review my new books and tomorrows agenda. It's fairly quiet here, just the hum of the AC units, and distant murmur of traffic. I miss my kids. I call Chris for the 4th time today but he gets annoyed so I leave him alone and decide to live here in this hotel room for the next 2 days easing into my loneliness… After all, I've been away from home before. I can do this.

I'm still in bed now, next to an empty pizza box, trying to hack into some locals wifi so that I can post this blog. I haven't hacked in yet, but I did find out that Microsoft Word can spell check Palahniuk's name…impressive, eh? Goodnight everyone.

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