Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bowl 28: Alex

Sometimes it's smooth sailing!

In New York for Thanksgiving weekend,
I need to go from Yorktown to Levittown
then into the city
I anticipate gridlock. . . and find none . . . 
then, driving 'cross 21st street a free, on-street, parking spot emerges. . . 
the gods must be with me!

I grab my bag with bowl and camera
with little hope of an encounter on a chilly day in chilly NYC
but turning the corner, outside a cafe,
a man sits singing to his toddler,
"cold, cold, cold it's cold," he chants . . . 
and she giggles.

We chat for a while, then his wife emerges from the cafe,
a tiny infant snuggled against her chest . . . 
I do a quick calculation.
"She must have been born right around the time of the storm," I surmise . . . 
A week before, they say . . . it was pretty tough living without power for a week with a newborn.
But they are smiling . . . like everyone I've talked to who weathered the storm . . .

This human life . . . so fragile, so resilient, so unpredictable. 
Sometimes we weather the storms,
and sometimes it's smooth sailing.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bowl 27: Barbara

I've been carrying this bowl for weeks . . .
the weather's turned cold . . . 
a hurricane
a snow storm,
all in all, difficult days for finding someone sitting on a park bench
open to a conversation.
I go to the library,
to the cafe downstairs near the shelves of the used book sale . . .

A woman browses, wrapped against the weather
although it is quite cozy inside.
She carries books and books on tape.
We smile, pass each other as we browse, pass and smile again.
She moves to a table with a bowl of soup and removes her wrap.
 Conversation feels possible, but two artists I know are sitting nearby . . . 
I feel intimidated. . . what will they think? do they know my project? will I look the fool?
 . . .so much doubt!
I am tempted to abandon the entire project.

I swallow my pride, and my fears, and say hello.
In her pile is Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving . . . 
an audio book I've listened to . . . and a place I've been.
She tells me she is going to Spain in the spring
and I recall being in the Alhambra many years ago, 
my eyes glazing over as I wandered through rooms covered with lush pattern and texture --
floor to ceiling - and floor and ceiling.
then coming upon a bath in muted blues and greens,
and being stunned by the beauty and the simplicity of the space.

We share our relief that the weather has broken
and at the outcome of the election -- 
we'd both worked on the same campaigns but hadn't crossed paths.
She says she's driving to New York for the weekend
something I'll be doing as well only a week later.
Her mother-in-law is packing to go to Florida.
My mom lives in Florida and I'll be going too next month.
Fear is long gone and I am warmed by the many small connections we find.
The exchange of a bowl and some conversation . . .
so simple, so satisfying . . . 
and almost abandoned in the face of emotions that dissolved, like the storms, a just few moments later.