I’d say the greatest luxury of My Summer of Reckoning so far is the Midday Nap. I get up with the birds and the sun, do all the work that requires bona-fide brain power, expend my buckets of nervous energy at the gym, and then, around 2 or 3—right when the heat is at its stroppiest—I take an hour-long snooze. Once a cup of lavender-earl grey tea nudges me back to the land of the living, I’m markedly more relaxed and present with other humans for the rest of the evening. Pleasant, even. Granted, this is one boon of my intensely freelance life but I think everyone would benefit from a little catnap. Listen up, Amerika: It’s time to institute the siesta as a nationwide tradition.
And so, I suppose, my Summer of Reckoning continues. Woke with the sun and the birds and my cat with the great gimlet eyes. Meditated, plaited my hair, and hightailed it to the Grand Army Greenmarket, where my friend and I oohed and aaahed over big bushy fennel and chard and sweet bumpkin lettuces before buying as many as could fit in our earnest canvas bags. Over avocado toast and iced almond espressos we counted our blessings and sins even if he’d eschew such Christian-derived language, never mind the neotheist intent. I got back to my car just in time: I’d read those pesky Brownstone Brooklyn parking signs incorrectly—it’d take a law degree to master their myriad mastipulations—and the tow truck was already digging its talons into my Sadie’s fender when I arrived. (So No-Park Slope to tow when it wasn’t even a tow zone; can their officials find nothing else to do?) I cajoled, I cried, I bribed, I prevailed. And thus Sadie and I ducked back home together, howling along to Aretha as the city came to its inevitable boil.
Yesterday, my friend B and I were having a long talk at Chelsea’s Cafe Grumpy. Because it had just rained, we had the backyard to ourselves and were using that rare private outdoor space to discuss topics that basic NYC etiquette prevented us from inflicting upon others: healthy grieving, ethical dating, spiritually conscious fucking, the heteronormative construct known as marriage, the queasy fundamentalism known as atheism. We were going off. If you saw us through a window, you might have concluded we were on a date, and a good one at that. A man and a woman of roughly the same age, talking animatedly, not touching but paying close attention to each other. She in a sheath dress; he in a tweed jacket.
In the middle of our second coffee, a man poked his head into what by then felt like our turf. “Helen?” he called out tentatively and looked at me. Rather than shaking my head, I grinned, and he raised his eyebrows, mistaking my glee at not being Helen for interest. After a beat B began talking again, and the man—who was peaked but not bad-looking, with a lanky frame and a long, pale face that bore the scars of a rough adolescence—disappeared. A bit later, while standing on the bathroom line, I noticed him again, this time looming over a woman placing an order. She was wearing a brown shirt and what we used to call slacks when we were mocking our parents in the ’70s. The outfit was so drab that it took a minute to register her bright face and surprisingly good figure. “You have nothing that is dairy-free that also does not have nuts?” she was saying with a grave, almost scholarly precision as the barrista searched the pastry case. Continue Reading →