26 January 2007
It's kind of Cold Here
Understatement is an unheralded art form. Because it would defeat the purpose of the form, wouldn't it? Ironic. Actually, that's not ironic. It's somewhat self-fulfilling and wry, but irony, strictly speaking, is the statement of meaning opposite of the words one uses. The vilest form being emoticon irony, i.e. "I freaking hate you, you bastard. ;D " Actually, the emoti-wink eviscerates the irony too, making it more of an aside. It would be more apt to follow up the statement with something like " =D " Statements that are merely apt are often swiftly categorized as ironic nowadays. It makes me sad. It wish it were a more remarkable occurrence. Alas, it merits only the amount of remarks I have made prior to the period at the end of this sentence.
That emoticon's tongue is actually stuck there, frozen to the exclamation point, because it is SO FREAKING COLD HERE. Friend Adam made a good call a couple of months ago, when he predicted we would reap the whirlwind following the balmy start of our winter here in sunny Manhattan. Me, I've ceased to make weather predictions beyond that it will rain whenever I'm feeling depressed. And no, there's nothing Sophistic about that. Why do you ask?
I still remember my first winter in New York. I moved here on the second of January, 2000, an eager-eyed little 22-year-old whipper-snapper, and hardly realized what I was in for . . . in so many ways. One of those ways concerned the effects of a northern city wind. At that time I had visited Chicago, and so thought I knew wind, but the consistency of the winds in Chicago is part of their mythos. Not so with NYC's zephyrs. There should be traffic lights and crossing signals for the gusts that bide their time in The Big Apple during the colder months. I've turned onto avenues before and been mind-numbed by the sudden drop in temperature. It's fun to watch tourists do as I did that first January here, namely walk the steps up from the subway and run up the last three because a powerful gale has hit their backs.
When I first arrived here, I was still clinging to this notion that there was virtue in being colder than I had to be. In part, this was to justify the wearing of my grandfather's fall coat nine months out of the year. (The other part was that mentality so many of us come at a significant challenge with: "I am going to do this no matter how hard it is, and it better be pretty hard, so I know my efforts are justified!") I loved that coat. Love, I should say, because it still hangs forlornly in my closet, never again worn. It has, to be kind, seen better days. A light, gray-brown tweed coat that comes to knee length, it was actually refurbished by my father (paid for it--not a tailor) one Christmas, and still I've worn it into the ground. There are holes in the lining, and a one developing through the tweed itself in the seat. The button holes are ragged, and the tweed is also wearing away around the collar fold and seam. Yes, I am ridiculously sentimental. Or rather, I used to be. Few things I've acquired since about 2001 have held enough intrinsic reminiscence for me to think thrice about tossing them. Still, I consider it an act of great callousness on my part not to wear the coat anymore, so giving or (NEVER) throwing it away is not an option.
I started wearing the coat in my junior or senior year of high school. I can't remember why exactly, and it was an odd choice for me, since at the time I placed a very high priority on my clothing being as jet-black as possible. (Yeah: That guy. And you're reading his 'blog.) I remember I wore it in a show, which may have been the start of it. I also remember my girlfriend at the time asking me if she could have it to wear, and my deftly giving her another of my grandfather's coats, as though that would settle the issue. (And that one was the heavier of the two; see my supposed IQ in entry 1/6/07.) It rode across my back for years, and every year I would be eager for the temperature to dip so I had an excuse to wear it, regardless of how ineffective it was as a winter coat. That paragon of tweed traveled with me through quite a lot; more than I can reasonably sum up here.
I've shed a lot over the years since arriving here. It's an important and continuous life lesson--letting go--and nothing brings it to the pragmatic forefront quite like living in a city in which you're expected to change apartments bi-annually. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever actually learns that lesson, or if we just go through times when we're forced to accept its necessity, or choose insanity. That's a regular theme in shows I've contributed to the creation of here in the city, and with little wonder. In the resonance of 9/11, it was natural for Kirkos to create Awake, My Heart and Requiem, and for Joint Stock Theatre Alliance to continue work on The Torture Project. We've had to honor so much passing (though not the passage of irony from vogue, as so many were eager to report) that to say we're still grieving is an understatement. I know that I'm still learning about the effects that day continues to have on me as I continue to survive (and occasionally even thrive) through the losses then and since. And the lesson that keeps challenging me is how and when to let go. Because eventually, you have to. Life is growth and movement, and you can't move while clinging to one point, object, person, belief, etc....
Someday I'll give up my grandfather's coat entirely. I've already replaced it with something more suited to me as I am now (I swear to you, on my life, that I didn't intend that pun). My winter coat now is calf-length, and black, of course. It's still not the heaviest thing in the world, but I've learned to layer. I've had it a couple of years now, and the lining in the back has gotten torn at the seams (which I consider apt). For now, I continue to keep my grandfather's coat in my little New York closet. I still need it, somehow. Some part of me identifies with it more intimately than I do with anything I've worn since.
But I'm not really sentimental anymore. ;)