VP.

To: valentine.piaggo
From: arieltheresedavis@gmail.com
Re: What is hip?
July 1, 2014 at 23:24

Val!

It’s so nice to hear from you. I was just thinking of you the over the weekend. It’s such a good coincidence; there is so much to say.

(Where is your next stop? What time zone are you in? I hope these emails come at a favorable hour.)

Without consuming the content of this email too much with my own problems and concerns, I’ll try to be brief. Of course, you may follow up this one with an equally long email about yourself. I won’t complain, I promise.

Dear Valentine, you know how I am. I’m a sort of pitiful little waif, susceptible to trying too hard and failing to quickly, prone to long delays between fulfilled dreams (and though it makes the juice sweeter, it’s still, years late). I know, you say I live in a speed trap. Maybe it’s partially true, but the tortoise, at some point, envies the hare. You know about my most recent plights, my goals for the year, the goals for my life. Even as I write that I shake my head because they are so small in comparison to any issues of the world. But they make me sigh heavily and shake my head.

I suppose I should really wrap up June. Already it’s July – “The summer is already over!” – isn’t that what you said last year? So June. Yes. The curtains parted with a lot of promise. Sunday, June 8, a friend was having a “boozy brunch” birthday party. It’s a New York thing that I’ll explain to you, someday. One of the guests retold a dating story to get the opinion of the all girl guests. The birthday girl, sliding up close to her, smiled. “You should hear Ariel’s stories, she has a collection, let’s just say,” she said. The comment amused me, because it amused her. But it had the sort of foreboding feeling, the constant reminder that the older I get the more obscene emails, off-color comments, texts without replies that I receive from men. It’s funny.

I could laugh only because I’d spent the Friday night before painting New York City red on a date, kissing a boy under an awning of the St. Regis. You know how superstitious I am when it comes to dating, how cautious I am telling dating stores. But, it's now old news, the ball has already paused at the bottom of a hill, the momentum lost, the recovery alcohol consumed. So I can write about it. At least there’s that resolve. (Denial is a river…)

During the week I had decadent dessert with L. at The Modern (my favorite). It drizzled and was raining but sun came for the weekend. I went to The Cloisters and brunch. In my living room, he pointed up at my Eugenia Foster, gifted to my parents as a debutante gift, a depiction of my debutante ball (God, I sound insufferable).

“I bet you like Fitzgerald,” he said.

“I love Fitzgerald,” I said. “Some days, I feel like Zelda.”

I brunched with my Aunt B. on the 15th. She had good news to share, so our meal was a small celebration of sorts. We now have a defined path through West Village and into Soho, marked always by a pit stop outside The Mercer Hotel to sit-easy on their welcoming benches. We diverted to Washington Square Park. I hadn’t been in ages, a jazz duet started up at the benches near us. Sheer heaven proceeded the minor pitfalls -- L. stayed over and stepped on a piece of glass. The moment was straight from the scene in Bergman’s “Persona.”  As the host, I was mortified. On a Friday night, settled and cozy on the couch, I was interrupted by a mouse. My first mouse! A call was made to the 24-hour exterminator. He arrived the next morning and I wrote a large check, and bought myself some peace of mind.

That ball reached the bottom of that hill over the weekend. In a bought of malaise, I wandered aimlessly through Central Park. D. invited me to LUMEN Art Festival in Staten Island. Knowing nothing about it, I jumped at the chance to escape for a bit. We boarded the Staten Island Ferry at sunset. Pale pink, yellow and deep purples skirted across the horizon, shading the Statue of Liberty favorably. By the time we got to the Atlantic Salt Co. the sun had set and fireworks were popping. The festival featured performance artists and video artists and installations and a lot of the artists chose to make use of the available salt mounds (white, like sand but more pleasing to the touch). We saw a woman in a coconut bra making Caribbean food, a band play and a man dress a set as a graveyard with felt stuffed animals and toys.

I saw a woman wearing a graduation gown.

“What does that say?” I asked her.

“Well, I am a healer,” she said. “I’m taking people’s pictures and having them write a wish on it, then tonight, I’ll go home and I’ll project positive radiant energy on them so that their wishes will come true.” She pointed to a bag slung around her shoulder, where a pile of Polaroid’s were gathered. I smiled happily, I wanted to tell her that I really could use a wish.

“But I ran out,” the woman said. My face dropped. “But, you can email me, and I can do something for your wish someday.”

“Thank you,” I said, taking her card.

We left the event at midnight, and took the Staten Island Ferry back home. D and I sat at the front of the boat.

“This is the best part,” she said, “because Manhattan comes to you.” The ship was facing the skyline, and she was right. The buildings grew closer and closer, and closer. I leaned against the back wall at the front of the ship, hands folded behind my back, the wind hitting my face, never breaking my gaze with the city. In my head I heard Blossom Dearie singing “I’ll Take Manhattan” and I agreed with her. With every single word. It was a very beautiful moment.

I woke Monday with my eye blood red. I know, again, the millionth time I’ve burst a blood vessel this year. I must say, though, that I like it today. For the first time I feel like my insides are on the outside. Gross, I know, but it makes me feel fearless.

Do tell me of life. Specifically, what is growing in the garden.

 

Sincerely,

ATD