The Pleasure of... Downs & Ups
Colds and flowers, bans and books, rain and anniversaries.
It’s been a week of extremes, celebrations and exhaustion. Sunday was Mother’s Day, followed by the ten-year anniversary of our legal wedding, which we marked with pulled-pork sandwiches and daytime margaritas at a cute Hawaiian place in our neighborhood, plus the arrival of a box of finished books. Here I am pulling a silly face while showing off the truly excellent spine. Don’t you want THIS on your shelf?
Those joys were interspersed with, well, another nail in the coffin of this country’s claims to anything to do with freedom or justice or equality. Sigh. (I’ve started contributing to Frenchly.us, a site about French-American culture, so I wrote this piece about international reactions to the Supreme Court draft, which went some way to at least organizing my rage.) I’ve also been sick for much of the week, foggy-headed with an aggressive sore throat that robbed me of my voice completely for a couple of days, always a strange experience but a good reminder to slow down.
On Saturday we went downtown in a ceaseless downpour to the stunning Faith Ringgold exhibition at the New Museum, and managed to see about a third of the show, including some pieces we’d seen at the Serpentine gallery a few years ago, so I didn’t feel too awful skipping out, given that X was hungry and not amenable to wrangling. He liked the lime-green walls of the elevator and the shiny concrete floors, and yelling out RED! or STAR!—like a good art critic, the gallery guard said to me. We escaped to Café Gitane, where X happily stood on a banquette and shoveled down an orange-blossom waffle piled with berries and banana. It’s a gorgeous place, and unexpectedly friendly; there’s nothing like turning up like drowned rats to a hip restaurant and being greeted as though someone is genuinely delighted to see you and your toddler, so a sincere shoutout to the staff there.
Yesterday I went to meet my former editor and her six-month-old baby in upper Manhattan, on the west side, high up above the river. It’s easy to forget how much there is up there, north of Harlem: an outer borough of its own. We sat on the grass in the sunshine outside her apartment complex, looking out at the muddy slate-grey sweep of the river and the span of the great grey bridge, and talked about change. I’d forgotten how light a young baby is, how small, how easy to entertain, how easy to adore, at least when it isn’t yours—when you aren’t responsible. I found pictures of X at that age, in August 2020: different grass, different blanket, different park, and how different I felt.
One thing truly making me happy this week: the 10-week local flower CSA T got me from Queens Perennial for my birthday. Last week he brought home an armful of lilacs, and today it’s a profusion of buttercups:
Here’s hoping your ups and downs are averaging out to an upward curve this week.
You can check out all my recent writing on my website, www.joannascutts.com. I hate the tyrannical hold that paid subscriptions have over our lives (but I love hyperbole) so I don’t and never will charge for this newsletter. The best way to support my writing is by buying my books, but if you’re so moved, a coffee would also be delightful. Thank you!