Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A view from a bench.

It's voting day in New York, and I was one of the 12 or 17 New Yorkers who rose early and walked down the block to a 1950s-era public school and cast my ballot.

As a registered Dimmy-crat, I had a choice between our long-time congresswoman, Carolyn Maloney, and an opponent I had never heard of, last name Patel.

"I'd love not to vote for Maloney," I said to my wife, "She's been in office for decades and I can scarce think of a single thing she's done."

"Patel's a liar," she answered knowingly. "And besides, if nothing else, she votes the right way."

And so, with no one else in the cavernous elementary school where we vote, I ticked the box for Maloney. The poll-watcher then dutifully handed me a little sticker that said "I voted," that I suppose is part and parcel of the notion that you have to announce to the world every insignificant thing you do, from having a glass of rose, to seeing a movie, to, perhaps, battling a case of flatulence. How far are we from "I farted" stickers?

In any event, I arrived by my office a good two-hours before the opening bell, and decided to write this slim tale in a small park that runs from 47th to 48th between Ninth and Tenth.

The park is small--about the size of a Goldman-Sachs partner's pied a terre, but a fountain is going, the indigent are collecting plastic bottles, two tow head kids are shooting hoops and a young couple, with apologies to Robert Frost, are literally playing tennis with the net down.

It's another surpassing beautiful morning in New York. The sky is as blue as a Hollywood starlet's eyes and the air is balmy and cool thanks to a gentle breeze out of the north.

When I was a kid, parks like this were called "vest-pocket+ parks and were the result of slum-clearance and knocking down a few old tenements and paving over the old brick. Vest-pocket is a good name for them, because that's about their size. Sure kids can play in the fountain, and impossibly fit men play four-on-four on the basketball court, but no baseball or even soccer could be played. It's more a park for reading a book, brown-bagging your lunch or just having a moment off when the world is too much with you.

The world, lately, has been too much with me. It might be a bite by the Black Dog. The fact is, every time I begin to, after four years, feel settled in at work and secure in my role there, something infects my head, and I turn to the Times and look for small houses in the exurbs where I could wind up my remaining days.

I had a premonition over the weekend that I would cash in my chips prematurely at the age of 68. Lugubrious, I know, and unlikely. Even my old-man, victim of eleven heart-attacks, kidney cancer, diabetes and more made it to 73. And my old-lady, termagant as she was, lasted a decade longer.

It's like that for me sometimes. My demons, and they are many, are never far away. I feel alone in the world--downcast and downtrodden. Fortunately, these feelings, as sensate as they sometimes are, don't last long. 

I'll snap out of it soon, I always do.

But for now, I'm sitting in the park, and against all of my dark, scarred soul's impetus, enjoying the splendor of New York on a perfect early summer's day.

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