Yesterday was sunny and not too crowded around where I live, so I went out for a walk in my two masks, past the Empire State Building and over to Madame Chrysler, who looked as if she’d had her needle completely sharpened and her platinum crown polished over Christmas, then up Third Avenue for some blocks and back over to what’s left of the Flower District. What’s left is a small bit of 6thAvenue and about a third of what was once the whole block of West 28thStreet between 6thand 7th. The reason I like to wander around there is the cats who live in the flower wholesalers. The King of these was always Tigger in the Holiday Flower Shop, but by now he very well might be in the next world because he was very, very old the last time I saw him, already a few years ago. 

Twenty-Eighth Street was very quiet, being Sunday and the Sunday after Christmas, and being also in the middle of everybody catching the dreaded new bug. So the block was almost entirely empty of people, even though some of the florists were open. And in a shop not too many doors down from Tigger’s old place I met a new rat catcher, a boy-cat, gray and white, who sat and chatted with me for a while from the other side of his door. His shop had a lot of tall, jungley looking things at  the back, and up near the front a big collection of potted cacti. I took some pictures of him sitting there, and complimented him on his whiskers, which are long and white and sprayed not just from either side of his face but from his forehead as well. 


And then I had one of those intense moments of missing my mother, after a fleeting second of forgetfulness when I thought, “I’ll send this picture to Ma.” It’s always a little shock when that happens, but like always, there followed a feeling that Ma was floating around nearby, if not actually inside the kitty. Because on her very last day, she told me that if there was any way to do it, she would come down now and then and ride around in Marykitty, probably in others too. And there have been moments when I’ve really wondered and said, “Okay, Ma, if that’s you—it’s not lost on me.” And if anyone could do it, it’s Ma. 


A few years ago, Ma told me on the phone that she’d seen out the window an old man riding on what she said looked like “an automated bathroom scale, operated by a device he held in his hand.” And at times, she said, “his long, thin body swayed like wheat blown on a breeze.” I'd jotted that down and found it today, having completely forgotten. 


On Christmas Day I made a drawing of my view out the window from where I usually sit and ponder. The big flock of pigeons that spend a lot of time parked on the ledges just above my windows put on a marvelous air show and I’m never not dazzled by that, no matter how often I see them do it. They have their tough times too, though, this I know because from the same spot in my house I’ve seen pigeons plucked right out of the air by hawks and eaten atop someone’s air conditioner across the street, and for a few minutes it snows white feathers. But I would take the risk, I think, if I could spend a few days in the body of one of those pigeons. I would fly up to the top of Madame Chrysler’s needle to see for myself how sharp it really is, and I’d fly around the top of the Empire State Building. I’d like to see what it feels like on one of the stormy days when the wind is a force to be reckoned with even for them. 


Among all the recent news stories about horrible and terrifying things happening everywhere, I read one about the tornado in Kentucky and how a grandmother put two babies into the bathtub as the tornado was bearing down on them. The bathtub was lifted into the sky and flew away, and the lady’s house was completely destroyed. The bathtub landed somewhere, upside down, with the babies beneath it, almost completely unscathed. There is always that story, it seems to me, in every catastrophe. I was thinking about my grandparents’ little house where I used to spend Christmases with Ma, and their bathroom. In the wall next to the bathroom mirror, which had a light over it that hummed, was a little slot. A lot of old houses had those slots, with no other purpose than for razor blades. Once a razor blade was used, it went into the slot where it would be trapped forever inside the wall. Over the years they must have added up to a ton of them, I always thought, when I would look at that slot. And later on I imagined how terrible it would be if a tornado were to open the wall up and send those thousands of double-edged razor blades into the storm. That thought comes back to haunt me at least every couple of years, so I’m not sure I haven’t written about it already. 


I was still on 28thStreet yesterday when my camera battery wore out, so I came home sooner than I would have otherwise. I don’t go inside many places these days because of the bug, but there is so much to see in this city just walking around the block that I don’t really feel disappointed by that. Yesterday I saw that the scaffolding around the Flatiron Building has stairs. From the bottom to the top. What I wouldn’t give, I thought, to be allowed to climb up those stairs. It wouldn’t be easy, but I’d just take my sweet time.

December 27, 2021


1 comment:

  1. Wow. And again, wow. You and Ma, and the city. What eyes you have, Miz Romy!