History of World War Two Told Through Letters
Well, I forgot to mark the 1 year anniversary of this blog. I think that the most appropriate way to commemorate the blog’s birthday is to meditate a little on community – the community, for instance, that has kept this blog going. Looking for clues about Alex and Sylvia’s communities gives the letters a purpose other than simply delving into their private lives. The ways private and public get jumbled together is what I find most fascinating about New York. Sometimes it is difficult to separate the two, and sometimes it’s a privilege to have your private moments interrupted, interpreted, evaluated or even cheered on.
Alex and Sylvia’s different communities enter the letters in a beautiful way and help fill out a rich image of their world. From the sailors who help a drunk Alex to bed, to Adrienne befriending a rabbi on a train, to Sylvia relaying the neighborhood gossip, all of the people who enter the letters give me a glimpse of what they were like as people not interacting with their families.
On a run through Prospect Park this week I went through an empty tunnel where a man was practicing saxophone. He wasn’t playing for money. He had just found a private/public (and echo-y) space to play. As someone who only practices instruments when I know my roommates are not around and when I hope that the rest of the building has gone out, I can understand this man’s impulse. Sometimes a public area affords more privacy than one’s own home. This got me thinking about other public displays of private lives (hmm… like writing a blog). As luck would have it, there was a totally charming NYTimes article about crying in public and the anonymity (sometimes labeled “privacy”) that the city affords its residents. Check it out here: Look at Me I’m Crying.
Like many New Yorkers (dare I say most New Yorkers?) I have cried on the subway, in the park, on the sidewalk. I have gotten on the wrong train, tripped, been yelled at. I have laughed at a funny thought while I was by myself and done a number of other embarrassing things that one might prefer not to have an audience for. (To be fair I’ve also watched people trip, judged their crossword puzzle skills over their shoulders, and been freaked out by people who are smiling on the train for no obvious reason.) I don’t think that, as the article says, crying in public happens for a lack of private space. It’s just something that happens when public spaces and public transportation are a constant presence in the daily lives of 8 million people. And life is tough. Sometimes you just need a community of people to ignore you and New York is great for that. I think that crying in public is a little bit like writing a blog – you are kind of scared that people will see, but at the same time you hope they might tell you its alright.
So here’s to a year full of those moments that range from glowing to cringe worthy, and the people who witnessed them.
A card from Adrienne’s 1st birthday. (I don’t know who Al and Vange are.)