On the train in New York, Turkish newspapers rattled like loose bones, tattooed black girls conversed in German, and Hasidic schoolboys shouted in Hebrew. He discussed chess moves in Chinese and she gossiped about the Girl from Ipanema in Portuguese. That was Wednesday. The next day I read T. Corraghessian Boyle's The Road to Wellville, gassy from Chicago to Oakland.
I rubbed my eyes. I was sitting among friends, those dear girls, looking at the man-made peninsula of Albany Bulb disappear into the night. When I woke up in the Tropicana, an opera singer was practicing down the hall. The old habits were untenable, here in the new world. I wept.
Dry your eyes, girl! Dry those eyes brimming with thirty years of sorrows. You've had thirty years of joys as well. Ordinary joys. Cereal in soy milk. Eucalyptus scent. Love and rockets in Gilbert Hernandez's Human Diastrophism.. . .
I embraced Dipti on the steps of the Scottish Rite Temple. It was Sari Time. Rini swayed to her groom with banana leaves over her eyes. The priest cooled the fire with yogurt; there are always alternative solutions to these problems. Aunties squeezed my cheeks and uncles urged me to eat. I danced in black patent leather shoes until my feet blistered.
A great toasted piece of moon hung on a spoon over Lake Merritt. Was this the same moon that Jimmy had seen in Ireland? Gondolas drifted and birds, whose shapes I could still name after all that time away, took off on journeys private and mysterious. You believe in platonic lovers? Well, I have six or so of them, all of them beautiful and amazing, like young faery godmothers just coming into their powers.. . .
Did you get some sleep? Oh you didn't? Well, that's okay. Change your shoes. You must move, in one way or another, or else nothing will change. From daydreaming on BART to pumpkins and monterrey cypresses in Half Moon Bay to muscley conversation at teatime in San Mateo, with a stack of New Yorkers from my father-in-law in my lap.
There is a trope in faery tales where the young wanderer gives his or her loved one a flower or a knife which would indicate the wanderer's state of being. Blossoms, health; bloody knife, suffering or death. We gave his parents jade and hens and chickens; they thrive, even as far as we had wandered.. . .
Hello, Today. Here are my hands reaching out. Here are my eyes ready for the strange and the new and the difficult. Here are my lips that smile like Buddha.