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Lions Roar : November 2012
68 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 McCullers had lived here with both Auden and Gypsy Rose Lee while Gypsy wrote The G-string Murders, although their house itself had long ago been sacrificed to the BQE. Around the corner from our new digs was an Egyptian cafe where for $4.50 you could get falafel with pita they cooked on the spot. You ordered, and the man rolled out the dough with a rolling pin. Down the hill was the new Brooklyn Bridge Park, where I found myself standing beside Mayor Bloomberg at a food film festival. I’d had a glass of beer at the fes- tival, and now the mayor manifested himself. “We love you, Mayor Bloomberg,” came the voice out of my pleasantly inebriated self. “You’re doing a wonderful job!” He looked deeply tanned, as if he’d just arrived from the Bahamas. “Wha’d I do?” he asked, with comic modesty. I said nothing in response, for I had reached the end of my euphoric ability to hobnob with the famous. Or had I? Because, although he was instantly engulfed by the bleaching lights of a news camera, his question kept rankling. “I wish I’d told him which of his policies I liked,” I moaned. I could still see pieces of him amid the throng that now surrounded him. “Get back in there!” exclaimed my husband, propelling me Bloomberg-ward. And then, a miracle! A very tanned hand came through the crowd. The mayor saw me approaching and hauled me in. “You asked me what policies of yours I liked,” I said. “And I wanted to tell you.” And I did (gun control, calories being posted, the trans fats work; Occupy Wall Street hadn’t happened yet or I would have tempered my endorsement). The moral of which is, I informed myself, that once you head off in the direction you want, unexpected allies often conspire to help you on your way. So why not head off with more lightheart- edness? Why pine, I asked as I zipped up my suitcase. And I was almost convinced. For by now the rhythm of going away and coming back had come to seem so dazzlingly quick that when I returned to the city, I was no longer disoriented. I picked up right where I’d left off, with just a slight amnesiac stutter in between, as if I were success- fully living in more than one place at once, both Texas and New York, both the past and the present and almost the future, as if I were a Piaget child who’d learned the persistence of the beloved even when the beloved is out of sight. And yet—would loss always evoke a tormenting pang? Would that never fully change? My next-to-last sublet was at the top of a brownstone in Clin- ton Hill. The owner of the apartment was a cinematographer, and everyone looked glamorous in his rooms. The light was diffuse, silky—no bulb, I soon discovered, was more than 40 watts. My first day I screwed in 100-watt bulbs so I could read, and the lamps remained beautiful but refused to part with their light: their shades were opaque chocolate-brown, although their brass bases glowed like Aladdin lamps. One shone up at a little book tucked on a shelf: Letters to a Young Artist, modeled on the famous Rilke book but with missives from contemporary painters and sculptors. I read it on a chair the cinematographer had set beside the window. “If you want to be a person who can survive on your art, you must clarify what can be exchanged with society before society will repay you,” said the installation artist Xu Bing. “I was fearful and panicked . . . but I did it anyway,” said Jessica Stockholder, a PHOTOSBYATISHAPAULSON