Friday, October 17, 2008

After my doctor’s appointment, I got on the train. (I had a biopsy done on my neck and now I must wait three days for the results.) I don’t want to get the call…find out I’ll have to get cut open.

Being open and exposed is a very difficult thing to handle.

“I can’t understand people who don’t help people. There is a moment when indifference turns into sheer psychosis,” says the woman, begging for change on the 6 train.

No one gave her anything.
I didn’t give her anything?
What did I not want to see?

I get off in Union Square.
The open market.
Bright sunflowers. Salvia in deep shades of velvet purple.
Organic tomatoes. Pumpkins and spotted gourds, like mini Pollock paintings.
The sun is soft, but still it’s a little cold. The weather is changing.

I think of my Brooklyn apartment. The Super has to control the monstrous heater in the basement. The heater that pumps out the heat, equally to all of us.

In Los Angeles I didn’t have to depend on someone else to turn on the heat.

No one wants to feel vulnerable.

I stop at a cider stand.
I wait. The line is long. Everyone wants a swallow of Fall.
A feeling of gold and red leaves. Apples and pumpkins in their bellies.
Do I want apple or pear?
I decide on apple.

Why didn’t I give the woman some money?
I don’t have a lot of money.
But I had something to give. Something to show I wasn’t sleeping.
A granola bar in my purse, at least.

A lady in a black lace dress plays the harp. Her arms are bare, exposed to the fragments of sunlight. The music is yellow and round. It captures and demands our attention.

People sip their cider while listening to the harp. I fish for a dollar in my purse, drop it in her velvet box. “Thank you,” she says.

I put my fingers on my neck,
feel the place where the needle went in.

No one wants to feel vulnerable.

The woman spit out her list:
Husband lost his job three months ago.
A horrible death in the family.
Dangerous nights in a shelter.

When was the last time she had cider?

What is reality?
What is Psychosis?

Obama and McCain debate macro issues,
while mothers with strollers lull their children, with the music of the harp.

No one wants to feel vulnerable.
Indifference leads to the denial of one’s own vulnerability.

I keep walking.
I see a Chasidic Jew with the lulav and etrog.
Four plant species you bundle together and shake in five directions for the holiday, Sukkot. A piece of palm. A piece of willow. A piece of myrtle. The etrog like an oblong lemon. They shake it to remind themselves that God is everywhere.

I walk up to the man.
I need to remember that life is everywhere.
I repeat the prayers. Hold the lulav and etrog.

Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.

I like that I’m not afraid of doing this.
That I am not embarrassed in a crowd of difference.

As I continue walking, a man dressed in white hands me a Bhagavad-Gita. I smile and say, “Thank you.”

Back on the Subway, I let the orange seats fly by, close my eyes and breathe.

What If I had needed the biopsy when I first moved to New York?
When I had no health insurance.
What if the woman on the 6 train needs a biopsy?
Was the deceased family member that she spoke of insured?

Neglect increases vulnerability.
Indifference is the denial of one’s own vulnerability.

“The number of uninsured Americans reached 47 million in 2006, and it continues to rise. For many of the uninsured, the lack of health insurance has dire consequences. The uninsured face medical debt, often go without necessary care, and even die prematurely.” (Reports from Families USA, March – April 2008)

When people are absent they are not there.
When people are absent they are not there.
When people are absent they are not there.
When people are absent they are not there.
When people are absent they are not there.

Being open and exposed is a very difficult thing to handle.