Jogging up along the river today I took note of the ice and enjoyed the snow and loved the power of feeling perfectly comfortable—warm even—in just a fleece and a vest. The sun was shining. No wind.
Then I received a call, several texts, which brought into focus the unusual number of sirens, unrelenting, police cars rushing along the West Side Highway, five helicopters overheard. The strange, unbelievably crowded subway ride just an hour before. A pipe bomb detonated in the subway at 42nd street; suspect in custody. Thank God it sounds like no one was seriously injured.
Do we continue on with the day, simply continue on with the run, sirens all around, choppers hovering?
Is it a day when someone tried but failed to blow up Port Authority? A day when we all have work to do, dishes to wash, appointments to attend?
This is a different question from how one acts at a safe distance from a mass shooting, the kind of day called “just another day in America.” In NYC, if it’s true no one was seriously injured, a pipe bomb detonating early isn’t a major event.
It’s a day when we’ll try to focus as best as we can on the work we do we hope will lead in some small way to a world where kids don’t have to be afraid of guns or bombs, of not having enough to eat or being denied a seat on the bus or chance to get an education.
It’s a day where someone decided to treat themselves decadently, to buy a piece of cake from a Chelsea bakery for breakfast, but dropped it.
A day where someone is shocked their neighbor in Brooklyn tried to blow up a subway station.
A day where we can’t help but admire this lovely scene.
A day when you stop in front of an art gallery and see reflected the lovely hotel where less than two weeks ago you brought the kids to an old-fashioned tree lighting with caroling and hot toddies. Where behind that hotel for two years you brought your younger child to nursery school each day, greeted each morning by Sister Louisa with a happy, “Como Estas?” Where up the block you’ve found many treasures at 192 Books192 Books.
Where down the block from the bookstores 6 and half years ago in June you spent every Thursday evening with wine and friends and kids running and happy and free. Where one block up from there you went with Jim and Hein and Kara to the Empire Diner in its first iteration when you all first moved to the city. All those stories, and a million more, all on one little island.
Back in the apartment, looking out the window with snow on the ground, “Winter Song” comes on the radio. Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson singing:
“They say that things just cannot grow
beneath the winter snow
or so I have been told.”
In the song, they ask again and again a question they don’t answer: “Is love alive?”
Since we know the answer is always yes, maybe that is enough of an answer to all of our questions.