Archive | Quoth the Raving

Still Growing in Brooklyn

Today, for the first time in 12 months, I went to my local library, which only reopened last week. It’s the branch featured in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and I love it so much that I’ve run a free cinema club in its basement for local retirees. (Lots of Fred and Ginger.) The setup is still bare bones–you can only return books and pick up ones that you’ve reserved in advance–but just stepping into its atrium was so joyful that I burst into tears as soon as I sniffed its familiar scent of paste and paper. “Our favorite patron returns!” sang one librarian as I took a masked bow. But besides bragging about my library celeb status (arguably the highest status of them all), the reason I am sharing this story is because I wanted to confess I pulled a total Grace Paley. Which is to say: dropped off Reckless Daughter, David Yaffe’s biography of Joni Michell–and then immediately checked it back out. Apparently a year is not long enough to absorb the beautiful mystery that is Joni. Hello, my life.

Valentine in Sundry Forms

Once upon a time I loathed this holiday and still think there’s more joy, communion, and revelation to be gleaned outside romantic love than capitalism suggests. But I am an enormous fan of intimacy and vulnerability, and have come to believe this is what St. Valentines is really about. David Whyte writes: “Heartbreak is an inescapable and beautiful question, not the cessation of hope but the closest embrace of what we have wanted or are about to lose.” It may seem odd to write about heartbreak today. To be alive to love is to be alive to loss, though, because love never goes away but it always changes form. The acceptance of that change—even as it hurts, especially as it hurts—teaches us how to embrace the essence of love. Today and every day, may your heart be embraced—especially where it’s been broken open.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy