i love this winebar (the Mystery-Science-Theater voice in my head says, so what else is new). Lorenzo turns every new wineglass into a story -- tonight it is about how my syrah is from the beaches near Anzio, dove sono sbarcati i americani...
he builds to the sky as i swirl -- c'e' anche una torre...
these are days i cannot complain about.
you are not the first to go through such a thing, and you are better able to handle it than most.
[Enoteca Pentagrappolo, Roma]
[mercoledì 18 febbraio 2009 ore 21:48:13] [¶]
several weeks ago i started writing something as part of a very raw response to an article i'd been reading -- over and over -- in the print edition of the December 15th New Yorker. the article itself -- which is by Roger Rosenblatt -- is not online, so if you would like copy, email me and i will send you a scanned pdf.
anyway. i've been conflicted about what to do with this piece of writing -- the piece that i wrote in response to Rosenblatt's article.
one part of the problem is that, while i wrote what i wrote in an incredibly personal moment (if i had a diary, this would be in it), what i wrote is as much about me as it is about the people that i think of when i read the article -- people who are in my present and in my past, and even in those difficult places in between. i stop at whole sections of Rosenblatt's story, and i want to pick them up off the page and wrap them around the different people in my life, around myself.
the other part of the problem is that, quite simply, this piece of writing is not even a piece of writing. at its best, it is barely a letter, to some people more than others, although maybe it's mostly to myself. at its worst, it is a series of soppily introduced excerpts from the article itself, neither here nor there in that you get not-quite-enough of me, and certainly-not-enough of Rosenblatt's article -- which is the kind of pure and simple writing that takes you to that secret place inside the human spirit that seems to hold pain and peace in equal parts.
i am not comfortable about sending it around in some kind of quasi-mass email. i am even less comfortable about sending it out in a series of individual emails -- for so many reasons that have as much to do with me as they have to do with those people in my present and in my past, and in those difficult places in between. i am not comfortable about putting it here either -- not at all. but there are some things about a blog -- i think -- that work for the kind of sharing-of-self that is not so easy (or in the case of facebook, even possible) in other places.
if you came here, it must be because you wanted to.
* for Antonio, and for anyone who has to watch helplessly, while a child misses its mother.
One night in February, Jessie and Sam had a meltdown as they were going to bed. Ginny and I sat in the living room, listening to Harris's steady voice in the intermissions of the children's wailing. Eventually, they were quieted. He came downstairs and sat staring vacantly at his laptop. "Look," I said, going over to him. "We're never going to get over this. That's a given. But the children will. I promise you. I've seen it elsewhere."
*for Hasan, Alia, Humayun, Auri, and me. for Nani. for Deenaz and Lynda and too. for all the others whose names aren’t here. for anyone who's been at either end of the chain of loss between parent and child.
Once in a while, Ginny is brought low by a photograph of Amy or by another artefact attached to a memory. I am felled more often by mundane problems and momentary concerns, such as choosing a shirt to wear or remembering to take a vitamin -- since nothing will ever be normal again.
*for Alia. for anyone who's had to be explain this to someone who should know nothing about death, yet.
He brings me a book to read, about a caterpillar. He brings another, which just happened to be in the house, called "Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children." The book says, "There's a beginning and an end for everything that is alive. In between is living." The book illustrates its lessons with pictures of birds, fish, plants, and people. I lean back on the couch with Sammy tucked in the crook of my arm, and read to him about the beauty of death.
*and again, for Hasan, Alia, Humayun, Auri, and me. for how it feels to watch someone who has lost a husband or wife. (for us, especially, when that someone is your mother or your father.) how when they go up a flight of stairs in front of you, or walk into the other room. they are so suddenly, so very fragile.
Harris's stoicism is undemonstrative. A strong man, built wide and powerful, he easily carries all three children at once in his arms up the stairs. But the sight of his back makes me sad.
*for all of us, in the face of the lost jobs, the depressions, the diseases that won't go away, and the grief.
No one outside the family could have felt Amy's death more acutely. Yet what she said to Harris, and to the rest of us, was dispassionate: "You are not the first to go through such a thing, and you are better able to handle it than most."
like i said. email me if you would like a scanned pdf.
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[giovedi 12 febbraio 2009 ore 21:23:13] [¶]
it is hard not to think of airports when you think of arrivals. of the blinking boards and the little stick-figure signs posted above disembarkation corridors -- suitcases in serif; a little man walking away from a large plane; that moment when you step out from behind the stage-like divider walls, or when the automatic door hums open as you push your trolley through, and you are where you've been heading for what seems like forever.
i have arrived in Italy so many times, that i am reluctant to work out how many. and what's worse -- i am not sure which time was *the* time. was it the first time? a day late for orientation at NYU in La Pietra, because the ground staff at Emirates had it in for Michael from KLM and they knew i was with him? was it the first return? two suitcases in absentia and the memory of a palazzo on Via Carducci, and not much else? i remember the day after, a first walk along the Lungarno in April drizzle (so very Room-With-A-View), with a very large coconut gelato and the kind of terror that comes with knowing there is nothing between you and what you've wanted to make real for the last three years.
pass the gangway, pass the line for non-EU citizens and other lepers, pass the oversize baggage and the leering customs officers in the green channel. arrival moves like a snaking conveyor belt through hours and days. the taxi ride. the new street. the feeling that is so unique to having been deposited on an Italian sidewalk (the taxi disappears with what you suspect is far more of your savings than required; the street is already closing upon you; you have to shuffle around so that the sixteen-year-old girl doesn't park her motorino on your toes). doorways and light switches, suitcases up-the-stairs, late-and-mostly-liquid lunches in places you've never been to, with friends you've never known. everything is a litany of firsts.
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[domenica 08 febbraio 2009 ore 23:45:34] [¶]
so many old and new words this month. the books (all ten boxes of them) have finally arrived, and my living room looks like the illegitimate child of an interior design liaison between the Library of Congress and MailBoxes Etc.
everyone recognises the meaning. i mention to Romolo that my books have finally arrived and he says wow, so you're finally home.
it is true. there is no other tangible thing left to do, to make this be more home. my degree is here. the picture of my brother and i, on the rooftop of my grandmother's house in Karachi -- i am two and curly-haired, sucking on the entirety of my fist -- is here. my journal from NYU-in-Florence is here, complete with Tamanna's multiple-paged, first-day post-it note -- "WE MADE IT!" the red Mead notebook that happened to be the journal i started on September 1st, 2001, the one that has an entry from September 10th, about jazz lunches on Tuesdays at the Winter Garden, and then you turn the page and find that the world convulsed. that is here. my leatherbound American Heritage dictionary from Lindsay ("because a house is not a home without one..."), my *first* copy of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations (heavily annotated and marked up -- so much is the same, so much is *identical* -- even i am surprised at myself). Madame Bovary and The Velveteen Rabbit. The Illustrated Hebrew Bible and A Popular Dictionary of Islam. The Bride of the Far Side and The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde. The Little Prince in English and The Little Prince in French (C'est tellement mysterieux, le pays des larmes!). Lady Chatterley and Lord Jim. the words to the singing happy-birthday telegram that everyone from tech-ny at Razorfish had delivered to me by way of a very large man in a gorilla suit. my letters unsent, my poems unpublished, my Venetian bookmarks and my R&B tapes and my little turquoise dress from Zara. it's all here.
it's taken almost six years. but i think i'm all here.
[Cafè Cafè, Roma]
[sabato 07 febbraio 2009 ore 16:12:43] [¶]