There are times when I look at this city from within itself and see nothing but a ghostly empire—luminescent, haunted, already fading. The views of grand palaces that dwarf Versailles; the limpid ponds and vigorous squirrels; the dancing sunlight; the autumn coolness in the air; the lethargic tourist families, collapsed on each other, eating hot dogs and ice cream, nestled under subway maps.
And something in me leaps a hundred years ahead, or back, and I become a traveller from a different time—some kind of cosmic voyeur. And to see leaves turn red from the tips as though dipped in blood, to hold chestnuts, smooth and fragrant, in the cool cup of my palm. And to watch an endless procession of persons marching past, all missing the view; I am alone here, hidden in the dappled shade, hidden in the notebook on my lap, hidden from the day and the night in this middle kingdom of evening.
There is the vascular restriction of life
as it stands
the heartache of waving goodbye to yourself
putting yourself on the bus
the tail lights red and sad
as you pull away.
And letting go in this moment
walking home from the bus stop
into your home, where everything is
strange again, as you feared it would be
the last time you did this.
As we come to the close of another Restaurant Week here in New York City, I realize there are a few points that ought to be made to the general public. These points operate along the lines of getting along better with the people you come across, by accident or design, every day. They’re also designed to inculcate a deeper perspective on your own actions, however minute they might appear to be, and how they affect others, particularly those who are in your power.
I realize that this is a big city, with a long and exotic tradition of ruthlessness; that minor indignities are suffered by everyone in every job; and that one can go only so far to be gentle with the feelings of others without sacrificing the possibility of meaningful expression. All that said, however, there is far too much discourtesy shown to people in “service” industries. Everybody has his or her own equivalent to what I’m about to say, so you shouldn’t feel left out, or attacked. Instead, consider this a brief memorandum outlining a few basic ways that, without sacrificing any quality of experience, you can create quality in the lives of others.
(Deliberately omitted are childish lessons like “say please and thank you.” You know to do that. If you aren’t doing it, pay close attention to the following.)
The first is the most important, and it regards tipping. Continue reading
This place, a living palace of comforts and solitudes,
Which yet describes for me an arc,
somewhere beginning, nowhere ending,
which I suppose is my story to follow.
As yours is of the fine lines, antique modes, steam,
The geological disaster. And his is
Of the curved city, the expression of pleasant surprise,
The wheel, locomotion.