The Book of Laughter and Remembering

Metropolitan Museum, Sculpture Garden, NYC

The sculpture garden at The Metropolitan Museum, New York

(For Kay, who wanted me to post a review of my cry-fest locales in NYC, as they say you’re not a real New Yorker until you’ve cried in public here).

The other day, I walked by a coffee shop in my neighborhood, in which I had cried my eyes out some time ago before going to a day-time orgy. I had buried my face in his chest, trying to avoid eye contact with strangers, but of course they noticed, and either tried to look at what was happening out of the corner of their eyes or to avert their gazes uncomfortably. I didn’t say many words at the time, or at least not many coherent ones. I didn’t need to. He knew what had happened.

“Do you still want to go the party?” he said.

“Yes….I do,” I squeaked out amidst some more sobs, not being one to admit defeat.

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This time, I walked by the cafe and I laughed. I laughed at how ridiculous it was to cry uncontrollably and then go to an orgy. How ridiculous it was to break up with a long-term partner, spend the night with another lover, go cry on yet another lover’s shoulder and then still go to a sex party and get my brains fucked out until the noise and pain in my head would stop. So I walked in and got a latte and sat at a table by myself, drank the coffee, and laughed and laughed to myself at just how absurd my life and the crying and the orgy-ing had been then. People still looked at me strangely, but now it was because I was laughing all by myself.

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And then there was the Met Museum. Where I sat in one of my favorite sculpture gardens with M and cried again about everything I had thought I lost.

“Why are you crying?” she said. “Do you want it back?”

“No,” I said.

“Then why are you crying? What do you want?”

“I don’t know,” I said, and then cried some more, and also laughed through the tears because I knew I was being ridiculous and because I knew I didn’t know anything anymore. Here too, strangers would sometimes notice my tear drenched face and then gaze towards something else. Nothing to see here, guys, there is art to scope out.

M, as always, told me some profound things about how I’m better off, about vessels for change, about how there is nowhere to go but up, about how everything was going to be better from now on, about some spiritual staircase she was trying to show me with gesticulations of her lovely pale Transylvanian hands. I either believed her or wanted to, but I still cried. But she laughed at me. She laughed and said, “You’ll come back here and you’ll be happy and you’ll laugh at yourself.”

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And so I did, I came back with Anne, whom I met while traveling in Spain. Spain that saved me from the depths of my pathetic-ness and introduced me to so much history and love and art. Where I found myself and the ghosts of my ancestors again.

This time, I sat down in the same place I had cried in before and I remembered sitting there with M and I started laughing at myself, as she said I would. But mostly I smiled and felt calm. I watched Anne as snapped pictures of the stained glass windows, taking notes for her own work. And I smiled. Smiled at how beautiful she was. At how much art and history and friendship and inspiration was all around me and how much bigger they all were than anything I ever wanted to cry about.

(These are, of course, not all the places I had cried in in New York, but it’s a the beginning of a list.)