I know this much is true

It’s true: New York still feels like home. I tried to unstick myself, but in the end, I guess it was not the city, but my life in it which had become “koyaanisquatsi” – which, in case you’ve never seen the film, means (in the Hopi language): 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life disintegrating. 4. life out of balance. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.

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It isn’t as if I hated my life here before I left – I can’t claim to be anything but fortunate when it comes to the path that my life has taken – the opportunities I have been given, all my life, to explore, wonder, wander, dream, love, make mistakes, try again, learn. Though it is true that I can sometimes be caught wishing that life were more of a fairytale with a happy ending, I know in my soul that it is true that it is all about the journey. There is something about my journey through this time and space that lends itself to philosophy – philo meaning lover and sophos meaning wisdom: I am enamoured of both love and wisdom, and I have so far had the sort of life that has allowed me to pursue both, to be a student of love. Perhaps one of these days I may even be wise on the subject. But somehow it seems that just when I think I’m getting the hang of things, the universe confirms, in no uncertain terms, that holy shit I got it all wrong. Luckily for me, broken hearts write the best love songs – at least the ones I’ve always liked the most.

All that being said, the truth of a broken heart, at this stage in the game, is that nothing is really broken. Bruised, perhaps, tired and sore, but not at all hopeless – such has not always been the case for me. I think most of us can have a hard time maintaining equilibrium, especially when circumstances are beyond our control, when hopes are dashed, when we come to believe we’ll be be seeing nothing but pairs of cherries, just to find a line of lemons instead. Maybe it is just a philosophical coping mechanism, but I think there is truth to the statement that letting a thing go is the only way to see if it was ever yours to begin with.

Then again, there’s a chance that, once you let it go, you’ll realize you didn’t love it so very much after all.

Not so with New York, at least not thus far. There is something about this city that just runs through my feet like a current and races through my veins and fills my lungs, makes me drunk as I walk down my new street, smiling in the springtime sun. Yesterday I donned my only outfit that passes for evening-wear, since most of my clothes are still in storage or packed into my car in my grandmother’s carport, and took the train to the Gansevoort Hotel on Park Avenue where I was meeting my beautiful Italian friend Sylvia and her Dutch boyfriend Robert. There was an Italian happy hour, full to the gills with be-suited and smiling Italians drinking Peroni and eating hors d’oeuvres. Robert and Sylvia came on their bikes, so when it was time to head up to Sylvia’s office for a fashion show/ fancypants event, Robert let me hop on the back of his cruiser and gave me pretty much the best ride through midtown I have ever had. It was warmish despite the onset of evening and I rode sidesaddle, like the women in India do in their saris, as Robert remarked. I was grinning from ear to ear as the towering buildings slid by like cards, shuffling memories through my head and Sylvia looked so elegant in her Dr. Scholls platform shoes, up past Bryant Park we rode and I recalled a summer picnic there – not yet a year ago, but lifetimes have passed since then – when Sarah and I munched on goodies she spread out on the old orange tapestry and drank champagne from bodega cups, watching the Wizard of Oz – the story of a girl who goes on a long, strange trip, just to find her way back home again.

We parked the bikes and bypassed the line of people waiting to get into the event, like VIPs, which is always fun when you just cruised up on two wheels. Sylvia is an architect who works sometimes in this collaborative shared space, which also happens to be an event space which they rent out for parties and, in this case, a fashion show / benefit. We tried beer and cheese pairings and sipped cocktails and watched the models display their wears (get it?).

painted argyle

painted argyle

walking the cat

walking the cat

marina and i on the red carpet

marina and me on the red carpet

On Wednesday I moved most of my things and the remainder of Nora’s out of the old apartment on West 4th, and it’s a good thing I waxed poetic about it when I could, because Tuesday night I was taking down curtains and packing up boxes, not unlike my last few nights in Brooklyn last summer before I took off for foreign lands, but somehow easier because it wasn’t my stuff, for the most part. The moving guys came the next day, and so begins my life in Williamsburg.

I never intended to be a Williamsburger, but here I am, loving it after just a few days, though the change in the weather can’t hurt, either. There is nothing like the joy of sitting on one’s fire escape on a sunny afternoon, writing, listening to music, listening to the unbelievably loud meowing of some hidden cat. Manhattan peeks through the trees on the far side of the backyards behind my new building. It’s a different life than my last life in New York – different folks, different scenery, different job – that’s right! I’m working part time for a screenwriter who teaches classes in Brooklyn and Manhattan on writing and film, both things I love. And the fact that I can walk to work is a big plus.

As the technicolor of spring sets in, the cherry blossoms bloom like the dickens on streets and in gardens and on everyones’ Facebook page. The full moon has been looming over the city, portending deep change, transformation. I thought it was just something energetic until I got some news this morning that made me realize this moon isn’t fucking around. As much as I might have thought it would be possible for me to pick up the pieces of my old life here, I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am starting from scratch.

Chance and Other Games of LoveĀ 

Love and miss,

Kira

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full circles

I’ve only been back in New York for two weeks, but they have been busy ones. One of the things I have been busy doing is answering people’s questions about how I’m doing and how it feels to be back. I have been really bad at it, because I was still processing it

Here’s how it feels:

Like part of me is still walking along the ghats at Varanasi, going to a cafe or meeting a friend there, the river shimmering in the morning light. Part of me lives at the temple at Chidamburam, among the flickering lamps and carved pillars. A different part of me is floating on the Nile, looking up at the painted ceiling of an ancient temple. There is a piece of me which now permanently resides at the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo, and I may have accidentally lost part of myself to a tour group going to Mecca.

The rest of me, or most of it, is in New York City, strangely, comfortingly, back in an apartment I once called home as we start the countdown to its demise in this incarnation.

empire

the famous view from the West 4th apt – it was rainbow pastel for Easter!

It is a sudden stop, like waking from a wild dream to find yourself in your own familiar bed. I could almost fool myself that I have gone backwards in time instead of forward, and that all my travels have been a dream, a figment. But for a few small modifications, this time could almost be 2009 or last April, only this time a serious change is afoot: my good friend Nora is leaving the city. For good. We say that it isn’t permanent, but we know that it isn’t that temporary.

She was like a sister to me through the process of moving to New York, through all of my ups and downs, and I have had the privilege of being there for her when the poo hit the propeller. When my big sister died in 2011, Nora was with me in New York and took time out of a business trip to come up to Napa and be with my family when we were there to organize her memorial and sort out things. We desperately needed some comfort and she will forever be remembered by me and my family for providing it.

Her life has called her to far away shores and I can’t begrudge that! But I do wonder what we’ll do without her? Perhaps New York will lose its allure, post-Nora. It will certainly feel different.

And so we have a week till she lifts off and soon we’ll see the apartment transformed back into its previous blank incarnation. Meanwhile, I am on the hunt for a place to spend a few months collecting myself and reshaping my life. I’m taking some screenwriting classes in exchange for “interning” in the office and looking for part-time work while trying to determine if my differences with this city are reconcilable. Maybe all I need is a different perspective.

This weekend Nora and I went to the birthday party of a couple of my friends and I couldn’t help but recall another party at the same house, almost ten months ago now, when I was about a month away from leaving New York and my heart was singing with possibilities and hopes untested. There is a melancholy sense in which the magic and the potentials I felt to be so palpable at that moment have split off from my actual life and become reflections of dreams unrealized. Ten months ago I had that moment of standing at the brink as we celebrated the festival of St. Joan on a rooftop in Brooklyn, jumping over a firepit to symbolize the letting go of old fears and limitations.

No harsh realities seemed likely – they were a child’s drawing of a boogie man – all roads would lead to happy endings and all tangles, if any should appear, would be miraculously untangled for the benefit of all. I was the victor, having emerged from a few months of funk to feel once more, at long last, that “teenage feeling” – I really thought I saw the pink sky of sunrise after the long dark night I was traveling through since Erika died. I felt cradled and protected, invincible. Beloved.

On the other side of nearly a year’s worth of experiences now, I can’t claim to have been correct about the rightness of things. Some things which seemed beyond doubt then have proven to be very questionable indeed. I’ve seen those sketchy comical boogie men come to frightening life as the trappings of mundane quotidian existence fell away and the shells of dreams shattered under the weight of time’s testing. Some of the people I thought were in my life for the longterm turned out to be gone forever in an instant, without a backward look. I thought I’d seen the last of others who have somehow stuck around to cycle back and clink cocktails with me at these karmic parties.

It is enough to remove the last vestiges of childlike belief in a future that is comprehensible or really has anything to do with what I want or need or deserve and make me just submit to life. I find myself pulled in two opposing directions: part of me surrenders and longs to give up, battered by too much self-reliance and too many hopes dashed. Another part of me, inspired by the spirit of my fearless sister, urges me onward, encourages me to keep my chin up.

Today would have been Erika’s 35th birthday. It is the second of her birthdays to pass without her presence here on Earth. All my life I’ve had her example to follow, her steps to tread in. Her old roller skates became my hand-me-downs, and now I’ve inherited her car and her motorcycle – fast-moving wheels for a speed-demon of a thrill seeker. And I will drive.

This day of senseless killing, of lives cut short tragically and terrifyingly, reminds me of the day in December when we all started to hear about the shooting in Newtown. Then, I was reflecting on the passing of my uncle, Philip Wellford, comedian and and juggler, spiritualist and psychic. Early onset dementia brought an untimely end to his life not long before that confused young man opened fire on unsuspecting, defenseless children and teachers. Several of those who knew him thought of my uncle’s death in relation to the passing of those frightened souls, pictured him protecting them and comforting them.

Now, months later, gun laws are still controversial, though that attack ended more lives decisively than this one seems to have, yet everyone agrees that bombs should be illegal. Sigh.

Meanwhile, 35 years ago today, my big sister Erika Karen Kupfersberger, came into this world.

Erika and Claire at Erika's last birthday in 2011

Erika and Claire at Erika’s last birthday in 2011

Mom had her at home, with a midwife, instead of in a hospital. Though I wasn’t yet alive to witness, mom says she didn’t cry at all when she was born, but just looked around her in wonder, her pale eyes peering out from a face almost translucent. They thought at first that there was something wrong and nearly rushed her to the hospital, thinking she couldn’t breathe because of her general bluish hue. But as it turned out, she was just redheaded and somewhat seethrough like a gecko.

E and I

E and I in Rio for New Year 201/11

By the time I came to know her, she was just a little purple around the eyelids, but no longer transparent. She had an innate sneakiness and curiosity, without the influence of which I would most certainly be a far less adventurous individual. She taught me how to be curious, introduced me to books that broadened my world and shared her love of old movies. I never got as passionate about “Little Women” or “Gone With the Wind” as she did, but I loved Philip Jose Farmer and Douglas Adams.

E and I on a camping trip in 2010

E and I on a camping trip in 2010

She grew into a tall and elegant woman, striking, slender, independent, compassionate. She pursued what she wanted with a single-minded passion and managed to live a life full of travel and fun, to boot.

I’m so sad to be without her, but happy to have her memory. Happy Birthday, Eekaleek. You are always in my heart.

Mother Theresa of cats

Mother Theresa of cats

Love and miss,
Kiki