The stairs up, up two stories, metal stairs, open, a little scary, and the High Line once I’m up there makes me a little agoraphobic. It makes the city zoom up around me. It gives me a little of the deer-on-savannah feeling. I like the treed corridors, short as they are, tiny forests. I like to live tucked-in, mostly, tucked-in and where I can see the vista without it gulping me.
Near the river, a big raft of wood, enough for four or five grown adults to lie peaceful, much better than a bench, I sat on the end nearest the city and lay back. (Mrs. Winston, 8th grade English, “green gloves” alliteration in “Evangeline;” lie, lying, lay, lain.)
The sky had room for every cloud, and a sea gull alone. And one airplane. And Philip Glass. And what have I done. and is it really, now, everything that has happened. And the Empire State Building, straight on, and tucked to the left, north, the Chrysler Building, which is dull without the sun flicking it, the sun did, on and off. I felt open-hearted, for a minute, and my eyes welled, I wasn’t sure why.
No one else was there, though, just me on the raft, without Huck. Or without Jim.
The High Line was a full-on railroad line originally, not elevated passenger rail, as I thought. Then it fell apart. Then it got fancy. Someone was repairing a scratch on another bench, and I wondered how long this would be kept up so nicely, how long would people pay for that? Living in New York in boom times, building times, everyone crowds in times. When I was first in New York, that was not the time it was. It will be not this time again, some time. They are building many towers in Manhattan now, and one of them was there, closest, being climbed by one of those cranes that climbs the side as it builds, it makes itself a way up.
I had been to see these nudes that were Manga-faced, classical and assertive and round and magical without being exactly mystical, the more I looked at them, the more I liked them, their commercial taste, the way their genitalia suffered, not quite real, almost dessert, hardly reproductive. (Mrs. McCue, European History, people are naked, art is nude.)
After standardized testing, I had decided the kids would play Jeopardy. Instead of me spending an hour asking, begging, bitching, sighing, because they would not work on their essays. They were loud, but that was because they were into it, they believed in my promise of extra credit, though I am known to make extra credit, even in its rarity, mathematically insignificant. I used to work in research.
One of the questions was what is the name of my cat, and the kids did not know, but afterward they said, oh, you told us that once. I used to use my cat more in grammar examples. I go through phases.
Ten years of teaching. Every one of them has been hard. In different ways.
I took a quiz to see how much “grit” I have. I think I scored too high. I am trying to be smoother.
The sun was on me, that is still one thing to miss here, the sun, the vitamin D full blast sun you must seek out, it won’t happen to you, but there I had it, better because my sleeves were black, they drew the sun deeper into my arms.
Pictured: Kris Martin’s “Altar” on the High Line. The nudes I referred to.