Dear Sugar Pumpkins,
In early February we took the kids to the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. Year of the Rat. It was badly attended. Marchers carried signs that said “Stay Strong Wuhan.” A woman waving the flag of China rode by standing up in a bright green Jeep Wrangler. The Jeep had a red “SUPREME” sticker on the side. It was extremely American, down to the posters with cartoon rats telling us to love Jesus.
Afterwards we walked over the Manhattan Bridge. The kids complained the whole way. I saw a barge pushed by a tugboat and took a picture. It was trailing a robe of foam. The sun jumped into the water. Joy. The East River is only 11,000 years old and is actually a drowned valley. Glaciers. They first proposed to fill it in in 1916, but as of yet, nothing.
Further along the span of the bridge I saw a bouquet of flowers, left against the railing. Usually these are memorials and I hurry past. Ghost bikes, memorials, plaques, and murals—if you’re not cautious the entire city becomes a graveyard. But then I saw this bouquet had a letter on top, addressed to, “For when I tried to jump.” The air went out of me. But soon joy rushed back in.
Celebrate with me, just a moment, something good and alive that we may never understand, one decision out of seven billion—this stranger leaving the flowers, then walking away from their envelope, hands empty, as light as the wind off the river.
Happy New Year!
P.S. Wikipedia, doing its part, has a list of the gods of the winds. Feng Po Po is a crone who rides on the back of a tiger. Huitztlampaehecatl blows from the south, and Silap Inua is the breath of life and motion—but he lures children onto the tundra. Hausōs is the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn, dawn of dawns. She lives with the winds, her fingers are rosy, and she opens the doors of heaven.
It is a profound failing of American life that we do not worship our winds, which we would name Britany, Ashleigh, Lucas, and Lowell. We would be expected to sacrifice to them, but they would accept an Impossible Burger.
This is my useless opinion.
P.P.S. From Popular Science, 1916, “A Really Greater New York,” by Dr. T. Kennard Thompson.