Sunday, March 6, 2011
Quick Takes, March Madness Edition
1. I can't help it. This is the time of year that makes me miss my old place, and my old place in the world, more than I do at most other times. The grayness, the bleakness of late winter, punctuated occasionally by the nearly-forgotten sound of bird-cries, the dirty patches of snow at the curb, the wind that rages and at the same time brings the barest hint of cleansing freshness with it -- all of these make me recall New York at this time of year, and walking through it, walking for miles, which is one of the most wonderful things one does there. Today in my mind I am walking and walking in the neighborhood Madeleine L'Engle described in my favorite of her YA novels, The Young Unicorns. I'm walking up Riverside Drive along the edge of the park as the wind whips the bare trees and the river sits like a dull strip of lead down below. If you're a poetically-inclined young girl on this walk, the wind whipping your coat and hair around you will evoke all the sorts of things you long for, even though most of them are things with no names, but after the walk you will go to the Hungarian Pastry Shop (whose facade is pictured above) and have something hot to drink and write, no doubt, in your journal.
2. Nonetheless, I have it on good authority that the present moment is the one in which God dwells, and that to allow yourself to sink into the hot bath of the past -- one of those baths that feel heavenly at first, but soon grow ice cold, but you fear you'll be even colder if get out and dry off -- is to turn your back on God, to deny Him the gratitude that's His due for the abundance He's pouring into your life right now. This is probably true. And yet, I am thinking right now of all those dirty patches of snow by the curb and that biting wind, which seemed, in my beautiful former city, to presage so much more than their counterparts, here in Northern Appalachia, seem to do.
3. I wonder to what extent I'm a prisoner of my past, and to what extent this is neurotic and unhealthy. There is something perverse, perhaps even decadent, in constantly turning your mind to something that's gone, even if it was where all the excitement was, and where all the beauty seemed to be.
4. I'm glad that Lent and Easter come so late this year. As usual, I don't feel ready for spring at all. If snow, to paraphrase of the great Tommy Wolf-Fran Landesman song "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," will not be returning to hide the clover, at least penance will keep me from overweening lightheartedness at this time of year.
(By the way, I recently found out that "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" is from a forgotten musical about beatniks, The Nervous Set. Here is the show's poster, designed by legendary cartoonist Jules Feiffer.)
5. March can really hang me up the most. I'm usually a stressed-out nervous wreck this month, for no reason in particular. Though it's true that two dear friends of mine died in March, a year apart, and that the year the second dear friend died, I had a painful and difficult pregnancy loss a few days later. And I just realized the other day, after many years of mistakenly assuming that it would have been in April, that my first, lost child would have been born in March, twenty years ago.
6. Here is a sad song which some of you may recognize, and which I don't dare post until February is past. No matter how bleak and saddening March can be, perhaps it's not quite so much so as February.