We’re traveling. To a lot of places, on six out of seven continents.
The itinerary? First question everyone asks. We’ll let it unfold for you in real time, as it will for us — unless one of my two coauthors decides otherwise. Such is the nature of family coordination, which does indeed happen — not always in perfect harmony — and which characterizes both the essence of this blog and the inevitability of our journey.
This week, we’re adjusting to the reality that that jet plane takes off , with us in it, in six days. Ready or not! What’s occupying our minds — or at least mine — are things quotidian and existential.
The quotidian: we’re frantically trying to organize everything, financial, virtual, physical. Transfer responsibility for bills to a virtual bank. Prepay maintenance fees, due in January. Who’s going to shovel the sidewalk this winter? Water the plants? Will the vacation override from our health insurance come through in time to allow us to secure needed medications?
And: Cleaning out shelf space; tossing expired prescriptions and never-opened mouthwash from bathroom cabinets; jamming brick-like, window-sized vacuum-sealed bags stuffed with decades of clothing under the bed. Our home’s temporary residents need space too! Finishing reading other people’s manuscripts: friends’ novels, screenplays, an estate plan.
The existential: all this planning and arranging — planning the trip, arranging what will happen here when we’re gone — impresses upon me (again) the intricate, but not at all fragile web of friendships and everyday decisions that ordinarily steadies an ordinary life.
That web steadies also me. Friends visit over dinner, but as to decisions, they stream without end: How to get rid of those wretched plastic bags from Key Goods, which are so dreadful for the environment? How to set the (needlessly complicated) thermostat? How to get rid of the ants in our plants? Over hours and days, decisions were made: by me, by Danny, by Danny and me together, by Danny and me in conference with Gideon and/or his elder sister, Veronica.
East Harlem has been home for only four years. Yet I’ve discovered fragile shoots growing from the soles of my feet; thin, tapering roots, and they are ripping, slowly ripping out, covered in the dirt of East Harlem’s vacant lots, the dust of corner bodegas, haunted by the specter of threatening tattoo parlor signs, murals like the “HOME” one on Second Avenue around 101st Street.
Here are photographs of the neighborhood, things I’ve noticed about where we live, before we go.
Until soon, bye — Sarah, July 9th, 2017