I was going down the stairs of a non-profit in Harlem when a young boy of maybe four was being taught to walk down the stairs one foot at a time. This is a big deal, he says as he takes one HUGE step down—so huge, in fact, that he skips a step. He manages to stay on his feet however. Good job, I shout out with a clap. Hearing this, he snaps his head around and flashes the biggest smile I’ve seen in months. Like, wider than his face kind of big. He then continues skipping every other step all the way down, leaning way back to maintain his balance. Am I gonna get a star? he squeaks when he reaches the bottom. You sure are, his teacher replies. You sure are.
A Conversation About Love
What’s love? she asked me.
Love? I said. Love is in memory.
What do you mean?
In the memory of her. In the aftermath you could say. The clarity and brilliance of the aftermath. For example. There was a particular way she dried herself off after a long soak in the tub: she started at her feet and worked her way up, gently applying the towel in short counter-clockwise bursts. It’s good for the brain, she said. To work in reverse, to disrupt normality. I thought it silly at the time. Still do. Every time I saw her perform this ritual I would ask her the same question. But the question is unimportant. The point is that I remember and how I remember. I remember everything with a rare kind of calmness that, no matter how volatile our relationship was and would become, only exists in the aftermath of love. This leads me to a tragic conclusion of sorts. From my experience, I said to her, love exists in its purest and most affective and immediate form: after the fact.
On the Train
While I was waiting for the train I overhead two old geezers argue if they should go to the corner store on the way home or not. It’s the last day of a sale, says one. Two cans of shaving cream for one; I also want a Ho-Ho and a few other things. The train arrives and we get on. Pull out the book, says one. Let’s check it out. It’s a book on a Russian chess master, a name that I’ve now forgotten. From the early 20th-century I believe. His best 200 games, the cover reads. The owner of the book proceeds to tell his friend all that he knows about the chess master: something about how he rose from #37 in the world to #2 in two years. Oh this is going to be good, this is going to be very good, he says. The man’s hands shake uncontrollably as he holds the book up close to his eyes so he can read the blurb on the black cover. Neither looks like the type (if there is such a thing). They both have on hats with eagles embroidered on the bill. Both are wearing flannel t-shirts and faded jeans, their hair is dirty and ill kept. Two hundred of his best games! Now ain’t that somethin, says one. Gonna learn a lot from this.