Someone said, “I read in church last week, and I messed up.”
“You didn’t mess it up, how could you mess it up?” I should have said. I had led the service that evening myself. I didn’t think it could be messed up. What I said was, “It’s not a performance.”
I hadn’t been to Brooklyn Target since I first moved here and I bought a too-big coffeemaker I didn’t use for morning work coffee but did mess up a pot for my brother last weekend, I did not move the arm so the water would trickle properly, I had to refill, repour. I was upset the apartment was without a coffeemaker, even though here we don’t, more people don’t, have coffee at home, a place is not a home without a coffeemaker. I was so grateful and happy to hand my brother a cup of coffee, black of course. You want to give things to people.
This time at Target I waited in the 10 items or less line, and a white guy walking back after checking out said, much too loudly and formally, “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, could we get through here?” he was what people would describe as white trash, we were all glad that was all he had said, he looked like he had some other things to say we didn’t want to hear, either.
Above the Barclay Center there is a Mobius strip with a screen in it, it shows advertisements, but it is one of the things I see and I think, I live in the future, I don’t mind that there are ads. I crossed the street, looking at it, with a woman in all black robes and covered hair next to me and I thought, be careful, these intersections are dangerous, Atlantic and Flatbush, this is where people get killed, be careful.
I got home and took the cardboard corners off the two frames I bought and moved the slivers that hold the back on the frame and removed the back and put in one of two prints I ripped out of books I took from the sidewalk in front of the poster shop on Eighth, they were in a box marked FREE. Then I did the other one.
But then, isn’t life performed? For someone? Those of us with narrative streaks pretend it is.
Not that someone was watching as you decided not to finish your drink, let it sit half full, and watched the window, two trees grown into and away from each other, instead, no one was watching how awake or not awake you were, on the street, how much you were or weren’t noticing the man who sat under the painted names of the people in the neighborhood killed, holding a rusted piece of metal and gazing at it, turning it, or how someone stops with her heavy bag at the bottom of subway stairs to lift it, making you think of how you do that, too, and other people take the side stairs around you, too.
What books you looked at and decided not to hold, to buy, to keep, to read.
Someone watching, someone acting; someone confessing, someone offering.
We had read the confession together. I had not read the absolution. I was, in the moment, unsure if I had the goods, the authority, to pronounce anything, so I did not. We confessed, I skipped over absolution and remission, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of His Holy Spirit, we went on.