Every once in a while, I have a flash of a geographic location. A corner in Manhattan where there was a bakery that was downstairs, behind an iron railing.
I had a dream I was in New York, and women were running up a hill naked, and we were trying to talk to them, make sure they were okay, because they were coming from some wild party, and we were not sure if they were okay.
I tried on a dress I love, and it was snug, and I thought, will this end? I have accepted being a slightly larger 43-year-old, but come on. I had a feeling of a string around my throat all evening, and decided I had digestive trouble. Then I started burping over and over. I went to the grocery store and bought a baby blue bottle of off-brand Maalox, as the internet suggested. Then for real I could not read the directions without my one-off pair of reading glasses, from back when I only needed them to read on some subway platforms.
I met friends at an art gallery. I had felt much weakness of brain, and had gotten some rest, forced myself out of the house, which made me rather anxious, but I persevered. My two friends were standing looking at a restaurant menu, wearing pants and jackets like people do in winter, two people who showed up to see me. And had been showing up for a long time. That made me happy.
I value longevity, almost pathologically. I’m still trying to prove that unlike my parents, I can maintain a relationship, in spite of them repairing and maintaining their relationship like fifteen years ago.
One must strive, I suppose.
I was feeling very middle-aged, I told my friends. They didn’t give a shit about that, we’re all the same age, and sometimes we feel old, for reasons legitimate or illegitimate, if there is such a thing as legitimate reasons.
We went into a room of gold painted headpieces, and another room where model ships were hung from the ceiling, making a river without a river, or boats without boatness. Or something.
I went to see an exhibit about Genghis Khan. This reminded me of an art show we had at the mansion, Marco Polo themed. A few friends accidentally came a day early, so we had drinks in the Venice room. There was a bridge to walk over, and there was blue fabric, with boats set on it.
My family watches this TV show that I think is insane. It is in HDTV, and it takes place in New York City. I watch and try to figure out from the too-crisp picture where they are filming. I can rarely figure it out.
I bought a package of cellophane on Amazon. I regretted buying it on Amazon. I took out square sheets and scotch taped them to my windows. I wanted color in the windows. It looked like a preschool. That was okay.
As we went into the place where the Genghis Khan exhibit was, I saw a stack of Sunday New York Timeses. I have a New York Times fetish. I bet you want to bring one of those into the car, and then I’ll have to fumigate, my dad said. I chuckled.
On the way out, I picked up one paper. There were like three others! The day was over! Who would notice! How dare they leave baby NYTs out in the cold!
I took it home and did not read it.
Genghis Khan was all for religious pluralism. His wife was a Christian. The Mongols had a big city, and a huge empire, but now they are footnote people. Quite ignored.
“I hope you get to hear some jazz while you’re here,” I said to the Mongolian musician. The white local guy said, “They do want to hear some music. They want to see a musical.” I was like, okay, then. Maybe he was protected by that guy, protected from feeling foolish. I wanted to talk to the Mongolian musician and his painter wife, but also I wanted to say something that would show how thoughtful and sympathetic to their situation I was, which limited things. I wanted them (and everyone I ever meet) to say, “She gets it.”
We stood and listened to a Mongolian musician, using a horse hair bow (of course they had horse hair!) and two long instruments that were between a viola and a cello. The droning unlocked my parasympathetic nervous system before I knew what had happened. hanting, organs, bagpipes. I had felt iffy, anxiety-wise, and then I blamed the darkness of the exhibit on its continuance. They make the area really dark, and they herd you by spotlights.
Image: an ancestor of Genghis Khan. Detail of “Tumanba Khan, his wife, and his nine sons,” ca. 1596. Public domain.