Sunday, May 31, 2009

More Dust


What you see here is the last remaining 1/6th or so of what was for many years the West Palm Beach Public Library. A new complex housing City Hall, assorted offices, and the new library stands a bit to the west on Clematis Street downtown. I haven't been inside the new structure but am assured by many, including a friend who works there part time, that it is a vast improvement in functionality. Of that, I have no doubt.

But, practicality is never my top concern when it comes to appreciation of architecture (thank heavens I'm not an architect). Nostalgia is also a powerful thing. I have miles of memories of the old library, far too many to attempt to laundry list here. My father took me there many, many times in the 70s and early 80s. Many grammar school book reports were at least done in part at those big oval tables near the reference section. I think back fondly on the "basement", the downstairs area designed for the little ones. I remember sitting on the floor while a librarian or volunteer read stories of Beatrix Potter or such. Interestingly, I descended those stairs one final time just a few months ago. Things looked similiar, with a few indications of progress, but it still generally looked and smelled the way it did 30 years before.

I would go on to use that library to study for tests in high school, undergrad, and grad school. I sat on lazy days with an out-of-town newspaper and gazed through the giant east windows out over the Lake and Palm Beach beyond it. I rented VHS tapes and DVDs. I had a bicycle stolen from out front. I sat outside and fed the pigeons, who sometimes flew to their deaths into the structure's aforementioned huge windows. I sometimes avoided and other times conversed with the battalions of homeless folks who parked their shopping carts nearby. I shared ice cream and spoke in foreign accents with my eventual wife-to-be by the fountain.

But now that space where the library stood is flattened dirt, just as it was before the building was erected. I moan that another of the local landmarks has been pulverized to make way for something new (3 of my old public schools suffered this fate earlier in the decade), but I think back to what the reactions must have been when these places were originally built. Doubtless, someone complained that the developers were raping the earth to erect another structure to serve the masses. I can appreciate that point of view ("This was a Pizza Hut, now it's all covered with daisies....."), but as I get older, as I see the wheels of progress, of change, I get a little sadder as each brick falls. Each brick, a little piece of me.....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wedded

Another chunk of time has floated on by, more inactivity upon which my invisible audience can express imaginary frustration. "I've been busy" is my stock excuse/reason. It's accurate, trust me.

Got married. May 9th. Sailfish Club on a perfectly sunny day in Palm Beach, FL. I could not have asked for a more perfect day all around. My bride was breathtakingly beautiful. Our diverse guestlist mingled. The live jazz band played Herbie and Sonny. The food (what little we got to consume) was amazing. There is so much to say about this experience, yet so hard to put into words.

"Did you cry"? was asked. I got misty while we stood in front of the grand officiator, Rev. Jess Moody, yes indeed. I was more nervous, though, truth be told. I felt my breath escape as I recited the vows. I was in disbelief that it was all really happening. After so long. There we were. Not a dream, though it felt (and still feels) that way. Our prime desire was to have the witnesses to our union recognize that our marriage was to be a reflection of God's love. Everything else was frosting.

We had often spoke of a very small ceremony. At times, just the immediate family. At the court house, even. Neither of us are much for the pomp. Eloping was an option at times. We compromised, a lot, in deference to our relatives. There were some compromises that mildly irked us, but nothing substantial, and not worth nitpicking. I DID put up a fight over the music-originally considered to be a man, woman, and synthesizer. A pop song repetoire. We heard their CD. We heard them live. No chance. Nice folks, but this was our wedding, not a hazy karaoke night. We instead hired the aforementioned jazz group, and they were splendid.

We did a quick day and a half mini-honeymoon to the Jupiter Beach Resort. Romantic getaway package, complete with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries awaiting. We enjoyed nature for a change. We both live near the beach, yet found ourselves asking why we didn't go more often. It was the very definition of peace to be there. Man, I need to get out that surfboard again......

So. Married life. Best thing I ever did. Adjustments are always tough, but I can already see this will be very good for my stubborn 40 y.o. self. Reports as they happen.

Monday, May 4, 2009

THAT Other Half

So last night we went to one of those bastions of unadulterated societal glory, The Old Guard. A plethora of WASPs all clad in Burberry with oversized coats-of-arms. Of course, we are not members, something that was hammered home not a minute into the elevator at Trump Tower. An ancient gentleman cocked his head at my fiancee and me and wondered aloud, "Are you members of this club?" He asked this in a patrician timbre with more than a bit of condescension. His eyes were wide and suspicious.

When we reached the 9th (or was it 10th?) floor we were met with many more stares of unrecognition. I could almost hear their thoughts. We were dressed up but the bluebloods can smell an imposter. I loved every minute. A true sociological experiment. We went to the patio and gazed at all the plebians down on Flagler Drive, many of them stumbling drunks enjoying the last daylight of SunFest, an annual music and arts extravanganza that has grown exponentially since its inception in 1982. We were here to watch the fireworks. My father-in-law to be is a member of the Old Guard (well, not in EVERY sense; he is from India, after all) and got us in. Wasn't terribly thrilled about going, honestly. We ate a slightly below average dinner; they served fried chicken for cryin' out loud. The rice reminded me of my elementary school cafeteria. The salmon was pretty good. As we ate, we listened to snatches of conversations, all of them sounding like rejected New Yorker cartoon captions. Great fun. Beyond satire? Maybe.

Yes, I'm riffing a bit hard on these folks, but I just call it as I see it. I certainly am not feeling superior n any possible way. Call me the cranky observer. And I'm always seeking to be fair; we did spend some quality time with a randy gent who is making it possible for us to have our wedding in a certain local club. His genuine wit and personality made the evening quite a bit more platable. And the fireworks were impressive yet again. Surprising, given the economy and all.

But thank the Lord I am about to marry a lady who doesn't care a whit that I have no aspirations to be a part of any such "old guard." I raise a brandy to you all, though. But now if you'll excuse us, we'll party elsewhere.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Fond Farewell

Life as I've known it will shortly change. In 6 days, I will be a married man. Finally. Those who know our story will appreciate that last thought. It has been a long while since that Sunday morning when we smiled at each other across the room, later walking together to our cars, engaged in genuine conversation. I think I knew even at that moment that she was different. And she is. So am I. We embarked on a long odyssey of long distance correspondence, ill parents, lack of communication with same, apartments, bed bugs, hurricanes, grad school, pets, change of churches, and weddings. Sonia and I attended lots of them. Most locally, but also in Chicago, San Diego, and Scranton, PA. Now it's our turn.

And now I sit and ponder the last days of my bachelorhood. Almost done. And good riddance, really. Some have offered their condolences, stating that my privacy is done. Well, as I've stated before, I've spent significant amounts of time alone in my 40 years. I anticipate waking up with my bride, stealing a kiss on the way to work, cooking together, all of that. I've had years of living in solitude amongst my artifacts. I am someone who needs, craves alone time, but so is Sonia. We've already dealt with this. Certainly will be more challenging now that we'll occupy the same space, but we'll deal. Us only children can read the signals, mostly non-verbal. We'll know when to let the other be.

Oh, but the pondering. I can recount all sorts of bachelor stories-not necessarily raunchy ones but rather all those quiet nights I sat and listened to Sonny Rollins blow his brains out, right there in my apartment, with little regard to time or my neighbors. The many hours of film appreciation. The relentless consumption of ice cream straight from the carton. The Heineken and cold fried chicken, the piles of laundry. Well. I've gotten quite a bit tidier in the last several years (you should've seen my apartments in the 90s), but now we'll be an organizational team. Building each other up. Forgiving our flaws.

Maybe I'll miss being able to do whatever whenever. It'll be a fleeting longing, for I'm about to trade an abode of loneliness for a home. I can look back and remember drifting off to sleep many, many nights, thinking that in some unimaginable future I would have someone to gaze upon before the Sandman appointment. I look back on that younger self with some pity, and now try to somehow to convey to him that he just needs to hang on.....