I’m really milking every last bit of summer out of this month. Today I had to read the wonderful book Tracks for a gig so I planted myself behind Red Hook Fairway and read the afternoon away on a bench overlooking the NY Harbor. As the sun dropped lower, more and more locals and Fairway workers came out to watch. I couldn’t stop grinning. When hanging out on the West Coast years ago, I’d been so touched that people would casually congregate on streets and in parks to watch the sunset. I’d never imagined we hardbitten New Yorkers would do the same (which goes to show you how much time I spend on the West Side Highway, I suppose). It all felt even grander since I’d spent the day with a loner in her Aussie desert, widenening into a wordlessness that she painted with the same voluptuous palette.
On the way home, I felt that sour apple feeling: happy to be nestled in a poncho and a long skirt, sorry the layers were rapidly growing essential. It reminded me of when I started back East on my road trip around the country. (My sweet auto Sadie was but a lass back then.) The first night the sun dropped in my rearview mirror rather than my windshield, I wept bitter tears. From then on, I understood manifest destiny not just as a race toward gold but as a race toward the glory of the sun itself. I felt that same grief tonight as the day exploded in the back of my now-geriatric car—and so early, too. Oh, oh, oh. A real lump in the throat. Anyway, apples and fire: that’ll be this fall.
It’s the last day of summer, unofficially at least, and only now have I tackled enough of the shadows looming over me to relax. That’s life, I suppose, and as much as I don’t mind work—as much as I love work, even—I’m aware a change of pace would do me well. My patience is worn to the bone; I can scarcely suffer anyone, let alone fools; and I’ve become a Grim Jim, a Prince Charmless, a true Pill-ar of the community. Still, it’s nothing a break wouldn’t cure, and when I pay off all my debts and refill my bank account, I plan to take one—a good one, a long one, a very, very quiet and briny one.
In the meantime I travel within my finely feathered city, orchestrating the sort of adventures that have been the mainstay of my existence here since I was but a lass. Yesterday I wandered through the flea market on 76th and Columbus, a neighborhood that typically gives me nose bleeds. There, among the throng of normcore nudniks and old ladies in purple hats, I excavated an art deco pocket watch, a spangled parrot brooch, and a tiny painting of sea and sky whose beauty was obfuscated by a homely brown frame. This morning I painted it white and cream while watching an old screwball comedy. (And after you shot your husband, how did you feel? I felt hungry!) Grace supervised, her tail twitching in my face. The neighborhood pigeon with a neon stripe yapped outside the window. And the wind blew in, setting aflutter the curtains I hung myself.
Small pleasures, all of them, but no less real for their scale and certainly no less mine. And thus this season comes to a bittersweet end. Here’s to a brilliant Fall for us all.