Thursday, December 10, 2009
#36 – JANET IN THE PARK
One day Janet from ACOA stops by my place for coffee. A sweet lanky girl from Alaska who uses no makeup. Her violent father is a failed Republican politician up in that godforsaken place. She is much younger than me though as well read and eager for beauty and experience, and it makes me feel not old but rather that we are coming into life together.
At this time we were each reading the Robertson Davies novels, and sometimes one of us would have a book to give the other before a meeting began. Lovely, and open, and I note the slight soft hairs above her upper lip, which has led me to flash on feeling uncomfortable with other imperfections intruding on scenes meant to be perfect in the past.
I talk about my new time in the parks. We decide to take the C train up to Columbus Circle. From there we walk all the way up to the park’s northeast corner, which is in Spanish Harlem, and where I have recently discovered an untamed body of water called the Meer, which is going to seed in this time when money is being g spent on parts of the park that border on where the rich people live. Like something in the deep South, on the Meer’s east bank grown men and women fish with worms, and on the north bank there is a ramshackle Greek temple structure scared from the elements and with graffiti.
Janet had a live-in boyfriend who worked, because he needed the money, in corrections, meaning prison guard, on Riker’s Island. It seemed to me that now I could be tolerant of anything. She said she loved to sing, and that she and her boyfriend were always singing, but they sang only out of season Christmas carols for these were the only songs they had in common. His work hours left her on her own much of the tine. We had met outside meetings once before when we went to eat in the West Village in a vegetarian restaurant – a place that related less to my New York past than did the Meer .
We found that as children we had both ridden horses – me one summer in Arizona and than taking lessons English style under the supervision of a leathery woman who had horses near the Sunset Hill House and a practice ring right down in front of the Sunset where the road falls off at a point just below a small viewing platform that had a copper chart with a movable pointer to show the names of the mountains. The Franconia Range that you see in front of you and the Presidential Range in the far distance.
The subject of riding comes up as we are passing the Central Park stables and making fun of the nervous faux Anglo young men and women coming and going decked out from head to toe in English riding gear starting with those derby-like hats. English envy gone wild. Janet tells me it is very different at the stables out in Brooklyn in Prospect Park.
So the next weekend we met out in Prospect Park, which seemed as carefully put together as Central Park but, unlike most of Central Park, looked like it had mostly been allowed to go to seed, like the Meer and like the small abandoned garden behind my small apartment building.
We used Western saddles on the two fat, elderly horses we rode that day. We sat on those horses taking in the warmth of winter sun as they strolled along an overgrown bridle path.