The theater was dark. There was a good feeling all around. A little girl, her father and sister were sitting in one of the seats near the screen. The blonde actress up there and her sunny smile were magic. With her, everything was fine. The world was a good and safe place to be. The little girl turned to her father. His eyes were kind and gentle. Yes, she thought. We are going to live in America. We are going to the land of the blonde woman and the swimming pool. Things are perfect over there.
It was a chilly evening in Manhattan. The calendar said it was the second night of spring, but it felt like the beginning of winter all over again. He was sitting on the bench outside the main library, with his chin on his chest. Sleep protected him. People walked by; someone glanced at him, others didn’t. A French tourist looked at the man and almost laughed. Someone observing him gave him a dirty look, silent movie style. A while later, a group of Italians went past the man. One of them turned back, and took a white bag out of his knapsack. He walked to the bench and placed the bag next to the man.
Places. Places here, places there. I carry my belongings, my books and my dear things from here to there and from there to here. I see rooms, one bedroom or studio places. I stay there a week, maybe two, sometimes a month. Then I move on. I don’t know where. I am tired.
I see the places where we were. I see them and I remember you. You were the important one. You made them matter. Without my darling, there are no places.
I live. I live out of my pocket. Everything I need for now, for today, is there. The key to nowhere, the subway card, one or 2 dollars–it is all inside the pocket of my dark blue jacket. I don’t know for how long. I care. I care too much.
He loved me. I knew that my father loved me. When I was 4 years old, he bought me an 18 carat gold and ruby watch. The rubies were beautiful and shiny. “It’s for later, for when you grow up,” he told me. My father had had a hard life; now things were good and prosperous for him. The watch must have symbolized being able to do something for me while he could. No one ever knew when things would turn the other way.Many years later, I lost that watch. Someone took it from me. My love for my father is in my heart, unchanged.
The Unsettled Feeling
Nowhere—she called it that. This is nowhere. It’s the feeling of not belonging, not being anywhere, not for long, not really. She carries it—it’s in her face, her clothes; her eyes. It is a curse.
He was crazy about it. The country had long fascinated him. Everything about it—the music, movies, the books—held a special appeal for him. When The Beatles went on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964, he applauded as the girls in the audience screamed and squealed. His face lit up like a little boy’s. America. That sort of thing happened to you when you went toAmerica. You got fame and women. America was the promise of a new home, a new beginning.
It was there, your chocolate brown body on the hard and cold pavement. Someone must have petted you, caressed you once, yesterday or the day before. I bent down to touch you. Stiff—you couldn’t feel anymore. Was that how it had happened? Had you climbed over a wall to play and instead death met up with you? I’ll never know. I petted you. Goodbye little animal.
Home is a place where I can boil water and make myself a cup of tea when I want to, at the hour that I choose. Home is a room (or rooms) for me to be me. I miss that—all of that. It’s been a long time since I felt I belonged somewhere.