Having come from lunch with Victor Navasky, long editor of The Nation, and still holder of the most enlightened opinions and generous attitude towards those who are not as smart, one imagines he/she could live in New York. This POV prevails for about twenty-five minutes, half a shopping excursion, and part of a taxi ride trying to get back to where one habitats in New York, where one might have been tempted to stay to try and take it on, had not sanity returned within a few blocks, along with the inability to breathe.
I apologize for sounding stuck and/or judgmental, since one of the great gifts the universe has sent me in my visitation here is the unexpected friendship of this remarkable man, who approached me a few years out of our respected Quaker colleges, he, Swarthmore, I Bryn Mawr, the latter assertively uncommitted to any belief other than intellectual excellence, but it still was founded by a Quaker. "Are you Gwen Davis?" he asked me at some event. Knowing who he was, as wasted as my life had seemed up to that point, I waited for an attack. Instead, I received one of the major rewards of my life: being taken seriously by this brilliant, earnest (in the best sense) and unexpectedly funny man, who makes the world seem and become in many ways a better place.
This has been a less than joyful return to this city I keep imagining might work for me, which presents itself as ever more crowded, unloving, and unbreathable. If I were alone in this feeling I would dismiss myself as judgmental and looney, both of which I admit I am to an impressive degree. But if a person were a truck, he could die between 23rd Street and Columbus Circle.
Lunch with Victor, however, at the Union Square Cafe, inhabited by the remaining smartly coiffed white-haired people as well as the ghosts of Literature, Magazines, and Caring-About-the-Written Word past and what there is of the non-e-mailed Present, one believes by the end of the meal this might be what there is of the Future, with Careful Footing. But by the time one gets what is fancifully called Home-- that which Mama thoughtfully provided on Central Park South-- one realizes one has been deluded. Even those left alive who went to P.S.9, the Great public school when there were such things on West End Avenue, realize that is a bygone era, along with cheap theatre tickets. Spelled with an 're.'
So it is with sorrow in my heart along with an itchy left breast from the pollen that I plan to return to the lack of inspiration of Beverly Hills, the wrong side of Wilshire, which, though still overpriced, is plenty costly. First, though, I plan to go to Bryn Mawr, the right side of the tracks, to check out my beloved Alma Mater. It probably served me better than my actual one, except in the way of material provided, and this nest across from the horrible buildings that are going up all over for the people so rich they don't actually live here. What a world! What a world! as the wicked witch who was probably a good person in real life said in The Wizard of Oz, in a time when everything bad wasn't made into a musical.