The French anthropologist Nastassja Martin described her encounter with a camchatma brown bear in the Siberian wilderness as: “A meeting, an implosion of boundaries, a melding of forms.” The moments she spent within the bear’s jaws, she writes, were “intimate beyond anything I could have imagined.” The experience cost Martin much of her face. A face in exchange for unimaginable intimacy. I would not give up my face (yet) but – what a click!
The other week, an old friend texted me a link to a story in one of the local papers. The pool where we’d spent so much of our childhood would be closing, permanently, at the end of the summer. The engineer who’d been called to do the evaluation determined that the structure was, essentially, irredeemable.
“I wonder if they’ll fix it or let it fester,” my friend wrote.
“100% fester,” I replied. The other scenarios – that the five towns whose budgets fed into the technical school would come up with the five million needed to bring the pool up to code, or that it would be drained, filled in, turned into something low maintenance, like a rock garden, or a handball court – were not so much unlikely as they were impossible to imagine.
Easter, 2014. I put on a chartreuse dress and lilac suede sandals and Brady and I go uptown to my great aunt’s where we eat mille feuille from Lady M and drink probably too much white wine out of small, weighty hock glasses. On the way home I get off the subway two stops early and walk through Boerum Hill. It’s one of those slightly hard-edged robin’s egg spring days and I’m cloudy from the wine and a dread more existential than the standard sunday scaries. There’s a Quaker meeting house on the corner of Shermahorn and Boerum Place, a handsome red brick affair I’ve walked by countless times without registering its purpose but on this day I do. It cheers me immensely because Quakers don’t believe in god but they do believe in good and I think that if I concentrate more on trying to be good I won’t feel as bad about not liking my job and not knowing where and if my writing is going.
One of the great, enjoyable mysteries of any pregnancy is what the baby will look like. How strange, then, to know my daughter’s interior so intimately months before I saw her face.