Monday, June 25, 2012

The summer

It was the summer of "Call Me Maybe," a song that I didn't know but seemed to like anyway.  There were downsides, of course, like the drug-related triple-execution that took place in a car parked a few blocks away from our home, but the evenings were so long and sweet that we could often stroll through the neighborhood after dinner, taking note of the flowers that had been duct-taped to a tree in memoriam of the three murdered drug dealers.  As the days multiplied the flowers began to wilt and droop in the remembered heat.

I would leave work on Fridays at 1 and then head to Lincoln Center to watch movies and eat popcorn in the solitary dark.  In the afternoons at work I would take a break to walk down to Chipotle to buy a Coke Zero, a concession to time and metabolism that I told myself I enjoyed.  Each day we waited for our nanny to give birth to her baby, but she usually didn't and so life continued normally. 

One Saturday I had to work for much of the day, and when I was finally released into the weekend I went to Five Guys to eat a burger and drink a real Coke and read a New Yorker article about the President's early years.  As a college student he had been no less self-serious than any of the rest of us.  Later we all went to the playground, where Alice enjoys dangling from any horizontal bar she can find, holding her feet in front of her.  Sometimes she and I hang simultaneously from the bars, myself well aware of the embarrassing effort required to maintain the position.

We all went to a Thai restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue, testing fate by actually dining at a restaurant rather than scurrying home with our meals cooling and congealing in their styrofoam.  The menu featured text in Thai and grainy photos of Thai markets.  Looking at it, smelling brief pockets of aromas from other people's entrees, brought me close to the memory of what it had actually been like in Thailand, those four years ago.  I was on the verge of remembering something real about it -- the sweat, the confusion, the happy blind confidence, the age -- but it disappeared before I could grasp it.

No time for reflection.  On the way home we stopped at Columbia so that Alice could clamber among the steps and the fountains, resolutely independent and insistent that we keep our distance.  As the day dissolved around us we returned home.  When we walked by their street I thought of the men who had been murdered there weeks earlier; the street where their ghosts remained, where their ghastly car was long, long gone.  

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