Warn the Geckos

March 6, 2012 § Leave a comment


I keep imagining last-minute miracles, from book deals to sweepstakes grand prizes, that will enable me to stay in New York. Even a few good freelance gigs would do it. But I haven’t made that happen, being too depressed this last year on top of all my many other failings, and now I have to deal with the consequences. So I’m leaving. I’m getting rid of stuff, sorting, packing a little. What I want to do is go to plays, museums and galleries, to hear jazz, and enjoy the flowers of spring that seem determined to come early. There were daffodils in Prospect Park last week, the end of February; Janet and I were enjoying the purplish brown glory of the naked trees—that glazed brown you see so often in Rembrandt—then stopped to chide the daffodils as one does to children who go outside without their shoes.

I’m sorry it forgot to snow this year. I like my neighborhood in the snow. I love it in a major snowstorm, when traffic vanishes from 5th Avenue, and a great white feathery silence renders each building separate and beautiful, each person out walking a column of bundled, radiant energy.

I know Florida will be an adventure and I’m already writing a book set there, a book that will allow me great latitude because, I realized recently, one can say anything about Florida and people will believe it. And since my imagination is full of snakes, swamps, guns, sex, betrayal and devouring waters, Florida it shall be, my next novelistic home. I can invite meth-addict vampires with crumbling fangs and dead Presidents to join the party. I can force those I love and hate through disfiguring changes and make them entertain my audience. I can dive into words and not come out until I’m 90.

No, I can’t do that. Writing is a respite; life is still what it’s always been, a slog with its ice patches of terror and glory. Charles and I are both going through emotional difficulties, and we both take solace in providing comfort to each other. My biggest fear is that it’s easier for us to do this now, living apart. I worry that living together will bring back all the codependent stickiness. But I know that doesn’t have to happen; we’re both smarter and kinder, and I, in particular, have far more appreciation for his loyalty, his talents, his imagination, and his lack of fear of my emotions and circumstances.

The last time I was in Florida, I burst into tears thinking of letting myself love Charles deeply again, getting that close again, when I know, as I always knew, that he’ll die. I used to fear it because death had a tendency to snatch men I loved. Now I fear it because the only thing that will stop me experiencing it is to die first. I didn’t fear Philip’s death because he left me every week and came back again; we played out the death/abandonment drama in miniature, with a “happy” ending, and this allowed me to surrender fully to love, as I can speculate he is able to do now with his Beatriz for much the same reason.

But enough about trouble. I’m thinking of the pleasure the cats will have in Florida, where they can go out in the sun and chase geckos. I’m thinking of baking banana coconut bread for Charles, of reading in the bedroom while he cooks fresh fish for me, of swimming in the moonlight. There’s a jazz joint in Fort Lauderdale where the cover is only $5, and the players aren’t the old greats, but new discoveries. There’s art and theater in Miami, and cheap flights to the islands. I’m thinking of not waking up alone, not going to bed alone.

The plan, for now, is to be back in the city several times a year, still working for the Cathedral as long as it’s feasible. Any of you who live here, who go out of town occasionally and want a nice animal lover to apartment-sit and attend to your beloved creatures with great devotion, get in touch. If we don’t know each other yet, if you’re a Facebook friend or blog follower, we could meet for coffee before I leave.


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