Second-best thing to come home to: my shelf of #vintage #books. Soon to be displaced by on-his-way fiancé.
Another highly entertaining Deadspin Photoshop contest. This is my personal fave.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn. $1200.00
(with reliable electricity)
Tony’s > Carmine’s (taken from in front of Carmine’s)
Last Sunday, the sun came out. I spent part of the afternoon on my back patio, writing. Next door, my elderly neighbor G.’s son and grandson, begloved and diligent, cleared branches from her yard.
The branches were courtesy of the immense Tree of Heaven that arched over our shared outdoor space. (This type of tree, colloquially known as a “stink tree” or “ghetto palm” starred in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn — Betty Smith grew up the area). They had landed in G.’s yard, victims of Hurricane Sandy-force winds that had shut us in. My boyfriend has been away, visiting his parents, when Sandy struck, so G. and I survived together, alone, separated only by our row-house walls. On the day before the storm (also a Sunday?) we had greeted each other as the wind picked up, both of us standing on our back steps contemplating our vulnerable-looking patio furniture. “Irene wasn’t so bad,” she declared, her face masking a pain in her hip. “It’s probably going to be nothing.”
But it had been something, hadn’t it? And we lucky Williamsburgers (me, a decade into my residency, G., a lifetime) experienced nothing but a few downed branches and a momentary lapse in cable service. So, nothing. Except the anxiety, at first simmering, then acute as debris swirled in through our bathroom fan vents and the wind bent sturdy trees, then sadness as we heard of our fellow New Yorkers’ devastation. Our fellow Brooklynites. The people in Belle Harbor that live somewhere that doesn’t exist any more. Them. Not us.
So there we were, me and my laptop separated from G. and her son and grandson by an invisible fence. As he worked, carrying dead, grey sticks from the far end of the yard to a waste bucket nearer to the house, the grandson spoke softly to himself, letting loose an occasional vocalization. A dog bark or a whistle or a word. I don’t know why he did it; it’s just what he did. I sat and typed. Though of Sandy. Thought of spring. Thought of cleaning up yards and struggling shoots in the dark ground and waterlogged wood and rusty gliders with new squeaks. Why did it feel like such a struggle to regenerate this year? To get warm?
My landlady, M. banged out of her back door (we share the back patio). I glanced up, a hello ready in my throat. But instead of turning my way, she stood on her back step, arms akimbo, and surveyed her shed, her bricks, her just-budding garden that lined the back of the property. She bent at the waist, peered at something that lay in the center of the patio.
This is when she turned. “Hi!” I shouted.
“Ya see this?” She pointed to a small object bathed in sunlight. I squinted. I made out the tail first. Then the bright guts.
“Ew, god!” Gray, white, and red. An eviscerated mouse.
M. shook her head.
“Must’ve been a cat!” I yelled. My stomach quivered.
“Well, I’d rather these than a cock-a-roach. I hate cock-a-roaches!” She turned away from me, uncoiled her hose, and sprayed the entrails about ten feet across the brick patio. I turned away as the tiny corpse rolled toward the garden, and walked inside.
I didn’t sleep well Sunday night. I was uneasy and irritable. Almost, Monday, almost tax day, dead mouse day — whatever it was, it was happening low in my stomach.
I had forgotten it was Marathon Day. Back in college, it seemed like a national holiday, all of BU out in Kenmore Square at mile 25, mixing with townies in a beer-fueled mass cheerleading section. Screaming whatever was on people’s shirts, all of them pushing toward the finish, a strange happy suffering on their sweaty faces. What a wonder to run that far.
But it’s been years since Boston for me. The marathon becoming a headline in a Facebook newsfeed, marathoning friends heading north to run or support. Oh, right. It’s Marathon Day.
But then bombs. And all that blood. I, like a lot of other people, was struck dumb and more deeply sickened, stupefied, staring. The damn Internet wouldn’t let me go.
So who could care about the little dead mouse, that small carnage, dinner for a feral cat? That was nature, anyway. And what was this, children and dancers and retirees limbless and lying in the street. Lifeless? What was that?
Malika Favre “AFAR The cruise” Series of 3 illustrations commissioned by AFAR magazine for their luxury cruise feature.