You may, when placing an order through Amazon.com, elect to have Amazon.com deliver a package to a "second location," i.e., an off-site Amazon locker so your shit doesn't get stolen while you're away at your day job committing capitalism. I opt in to this selection when I'm feeling skeptical of the intentions of the world, although in the eight years that I've lived here I have never had a package go missing. But a girl's gotta stay on her toes in this big cruel impersonal city and not get complacent. Trust no one, etc. C'est la vie. Vive la France. Word.
Today after my nap I went to collect a book from my locker and then walked home via an alternate route—the road less traveled—which took me past a school I'd never seen before and a large playground complex filled with small packs of preteens playing at various sport in the late afternoon light: baseball here, racquetball here, basketball over there. There were no adults to be seen. There was no traffic and the only sound was kids yelling and laughing and the occasional bounce of a ball. It was, as I say, a street and a setting that were new to me, and yet—"Heavens," Elizabeth Bishop once wrote, describing a scene from her childhood that she found in a painting: "I recognize the place, I know it!"
And so I knew this scene, knew it with my eyes closed, felt it in my lungs, in the back of my throat, buried somewhere deep in the reptilian recesses of my brain. A hundred November afternoons exactly like this one, a million years ago in a small town thousands of miles away, when my friend Meredith and I would play basketball for hours in the driveway of my house. We would play until our hands got too cold to grip the ball, without noticing the sunlight dying away, while my mother made dinner and the front porch lights up and down the street began to shine. Once in a while we would drag my father out to play us—two against one—although he played dirty and liked to cheat. (Where did you think I learned to trust no one?) On those long endless days, there was nothing else to want and nowhere else to be, nothing but the sound of us laughing and the relentless bounce of a ball ringing through the air.
In the end of course it was a little thing, the two minutes it took me to walk past that playground, just a blip in the day—as a single adult there's really no way to stop and watch random kids on a playground without feeling weird—but even though everything about the place and the people and the year was different and I was standing alone in the middle of this big cruel impersonal city, I thought, there we are. There we still are.
+ I finally listened to this epic Marc Maron /Terry Gross podcast. I've been lukewarm on TG in the past because I have an irrational beef against certain voices that strike me as "too radio" (Ira Glass being another), but this interview really marked a turning point for me and my new best friend Terry. The part where she talked about how she and her jazz writer husband just sit around in the evening and on weekends reading and listening to music was a real beau ideal for me, in terms of aspirational living. Then I realized I'm basically living that life already, only when Terry Gross describes it, it sounds glamorous and adult, while to me it just feels like a regular old life. So I am my own hero, I guess. I'll try to remember that the next time I chase a centipede into the closet or roll a cockroach up in the window shade: glamour! It's all about perspective.
+ Semi-related: lifestyle porn of the highest order:
+ 10,000 Maniacs:
+ this delightful tumblr: michellelee.is/online