Middlefield 3 an imperfect section but still I want you to see this

Starting Now

 

 

 

 

There is something sentimental at the heart of any museum, whose reason for being is to celebrate the affection we feel for objects that were once part of everyday life.

Paul Goldberger

 

 

 

 

 

 

What We Wanted Here, Redux

 

When We

Are Looking For Somewhere

When We

Are In A Lucky Position

To Be Able

To Look For Somewhere

To Leave Where We Are

To Change Where We Belong

 

 

When We Consciously

Not So Consciously

Un isn’t Right

Begin to Search For Some Place

Not To Belong Exactly

But To Feel A Certain Way

What Way Is That

Asked Martha a Policewoman

When I Told Her My Theory About Why

She and I

Both Chose This Place to Live

And I was Guessing It Was

To Feel A Certain Way

I Wanted Something Different She Said

Easy To Clean Ranch

Where I Wouldn’t Have

To Walk Up and Down When I Got Old

I’m Old Now And I’mv Walking Up And Down

I Didn’t Know I Had Knees

Until I Turned Sixty Five Said Martha

Why Did You Come Here

I Asked  Martha

I Fell In Love She Said

You Wouldn’t Think I

Was The Love Type Would You?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Catskills is a hoary place, wirey and old, eternally

 

vacationed, a draw for so many of us, year after year

 

after year: Communists, Hasidim, Macy’s workers, fire

 

fighters, Irish musicians, poets, historians, iron

 

workers, police, housecleaners, teachers, builders

 

and electricians have all been drawn to these very same

 

hills, for beauty, for respite, for summer hamburgers

 

made on a simple grill. For hamburgers that

 

absorb a lot of ketchup. Unlike the Berkshires, lyrical,

 

manicured, well-landscaped, well-scrubbed, where

 

Yo Yo Ma’s renditions become an unexpected part of the

 

daily landscape, these hills hold a different song.

 

The Berkshires, on both sides, New York and

 

Massachusetts, is liberal and forgiving, one of those

 

places full of used book stores and passable restaurants.

 

Not so our side, where opinions are vociferous and

 

flinty, and where neighbors don’t agree about too much.

 

In between the East and West sides of the well-painted

 

Hudson River, right on top of the river itself is the odd

 

town of Henry, a first name town where Henry Hudson

 

himself sailed, in his Half Moon boat, and settled, at

 

least for a while.

 

 

What makes one place more appealing than another?

 

Places could be are just like people that way. Maybe it’s

 

all just a question of taste, and class, and culture, and

 

the books you read, as well as the books you didn’t.

 

 

A woman came to dinner last night and because her

 

name was Sophie I assumed I would like her who

 

wouldn’t like someone anyone named Sophie but as she

 

entered when she walked in I knew I didn’t like her and

 

wasn’t going to either.

 

 

We liked Henry in the beginning. It could just be a

 

Question of mood, or season. One person’s paradise is

 

Of course another’s hell. We loved Henry even, loved

 

It from the start, years ago. It was too poor a city for

 

urban development, for beautiful old brick buildings to

 

be knocked down. Years ago, it was a small city in

 

disarray, shabby and chaotic, more poor than rich,

 

fried fish, cheap liquor stores with four dollar bottles

 

of wine. Nobody used the word varietal. There were

 

no hipsters or small straw hats on men.

 

A big Salvation Army sat next door to a Burger King.

 

There were one or two outsiders in town, but very few.

 

We visited an interior decorator once, in a spectacular

 

old house, 1790 is what he said.

 

He’d painted the outside a memorable pink. A difficult

 

man with a beautiful eye, I know not one of us even Zen

 

masters who espouse simplicity as a credo not one of us

 

is simple. His relationship to Henry was non-existent.

 

Although Henry was his address, where he was and wasn’t.

 

He lived inside his bright pink house, eating big meals

 

With city friends, who’d visit all the time.

 

 

Over the years, Henry changed, from Salvation Army to

 

high end furniture, to 50’s modern emporiums, to wine

 

shops with vintners. The old Main Street, still charming,

 

no longer shabby or disgruntled, has become a

 

destination: restored, preserved. There’s even a spa

 

and an expensive downtown hotel.

 

 

My friend Mitchell, a legal services lawyer who works

 

with poor country people calls us seconders, people who

 

have second homes. He said that last Saturday he was

 

in an Italian grocery store with beautiful bread and

 

home cured olives. Many people were waiting in line.

 

Mitchell walks between two worlds himself. A well-pressed Pilates looking mother who used the word abs

 

In conversation with her friend was annoyed, Mitchell

 

Said, because of the crowds so she announced, “why

 

don’t some of you come during the week.” The crowd

 

In line for olives looked unhappy, but no one answered.

 

No one moved over either.

 

 

 

 

When we started it we were four adults and two very

 

small children. Two adopted boys from Paraguay

 

and Guatemala. Adam and Eli. One year apart.

 

Nick and I live with

 

the boys in a very small apartment that could be

 

described as charming if charm means small and

 

picturesque. It’s a long thin line with rooms down

 

the middle and windows on the western wall.

 

The boys have

 

always shared a room, and their room has a window

 

facing a courtyard, a city courtyards with a

 

tree smack in the center. The tree looks a little like an

 

art object: some famous conceptual artist’s idea of what

 

a city tree might look like if it weren’t quite a tree. The

 

title easy to imagine: Maybe A Tree.

 

 

 

All four of us are anxious nervous city types.

 

We aren’t a hiking camping family. We have never

 

Canoed and my guess is we probably never will.

Kayaking either.

 

 

 

 

 

We are happiest walking around, just walking.

 

 

The house impulse was not in our DNA. I have an

 

aunt who told me years ago that you need a house

 

to have a life. I never wanted a house. Nick didn’t

 

either. A house represents so many things that neither

 

of us know. Plumbing for instance. Even the word

 

makes me nervous. To plumb sounds ominous, as

 

in plumbing the depths.

 

And yet. There is always an and yet.

 

 

We each have a very good friend, a friend we talk to

 

every single day.   Nick and I went to different

 

colleges, but our every day friends are from that time

 

when we were young, when we had time and when life

 

was more or less unpredictable.

 

 

Nick plays guitar but he earns his living working on

 

music in movies. He’s a sound editor, and sounds are

 

his life. His life has always been well-scored, which may

 

be one of the reasons why I loved him in the beginning.

 

Can you love someone’s soundtrack? Maybe yes.

 

His college friend Aaron is a labor historian,

 

one of those thin mustachioed men with earth colored

 

clothes who is infatuated with the past. With workers

 

struggles and especially workers victories, with

 

Wobblies and all the speeches of Emma Goldman and

 

Clara Lemlich.

 

My oldest friend is Manuel Clemente. Oddly enough

 

that’s exactly how he looks. We met in Milton class in

 

college. Neither of us liked Milton all that much.

 

Not liking Milton bound us together. For life.

 

 

When we four decided that we wanted a house, it

 

Was a half-hearted decision. One of those decisions

 

you don’t realize until many years later could change

 

your life.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: