Heaven? I’m in heaven?
—Prior Walter in Act V of Angels in America: Perestroika, Tony Kushner
We sang Vaughan Williams’s “O how amiable” surrounded by dozens of panels of the AIDS Quilt, we noshed on Keen’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, we contemplated Paul’s cryptic “I heard it from a cousin who told his friend” commentary on “the third heaven,” whatever that is—that is to say, I was back at church for the first time in a month, my longest stretch without church proper in years, and it was as good and jarring of a homecoming as I could have wanted.
I had actually been in the courts of the Lord already the previous evening for Quilt: A Musical Celebration,Judsonite Mark Perry’s benefit show for the Callen-Lorde Health Center and Frontline AIDS. Mark had arranged for a sizable showing of the quilt itself, which I’d never seen in person. I texted a picture of Freddie Mercury’s panel to MaryBeth; I shuddered with a sort of bilious grief at Roy Cohn’s, emblazoned with the legend “BULLY-COWARD-VICTIM.” But the panel I won’t be able to forget is the very first one that was made, Marvin Feldman’s, by Cleve Jones, who conceived the quilt and the NAMES Project. In the panel, Johnson is slight and serious, with round glasses and a moustache; he is surrounded by a Keith Haring-esque corona of bold dashed gray lines; and he holds a small gray tabby cat.
I didn’t intend to write a sequel to “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” I really just wanted to write a story that pivoted around this ridiculous delay I faced on the train the other day. But Aidan and Swann showed up for me again, so, here you go.
R Forest Hills-71 Av12 minutes
It’s the middle of rush hour, and I need to be at school in less than an hour for the chemistry Regents, which I will probably fail. I drag myself to the far end of the platform so I’m in the right car when I get to the stop near school.
Aidan said he’s not going to take it. He said this last night— his parents weren’t home, and I was testing the limits of my curfew the same way I tested my alarms this morning, which is to say pretty fucking stupidly in both cases— “I’d probably just bomb it,” he chuckled, reaching for another handful of Skittles from the bowl on the coffeetable in front of their ginormous sofa. “Fuck it. It’s not like you really need it, either.”
“It’s just good to have options,” I’d replied, lamely, as he tossed the Skittles in his mouth and held back one of the green ones, my favorite, and slipped it between my lips. “I should be studying,” I added, even more lamely, after I chewed it and swallowed it, soft even just from that moment or two in his hand.
Hi friends! I went on a slightly-longer-than-planned hiatus before, during, and after my trip to Ireland (which I’m still writing about—coming soon!), but I’m getting back on track. It’s Poetry Wednesday, so please do enjoy “In This Age.”
I moved a small bookshelf in my apartment on Saturday, and was greeted by a dust bunny so large that it was more like a dust Flemish giant rabbit. I was moving the bookshelf in the first place because I’d decided it was time for some redecoration: I had framed some posters and pictures, and had some others I’d just never gotten around to hanging, so I enlisted Dakota in this fun project for the long weekend. We were trying to finalize the placement of the print from the recent Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum when I found Harvey, and in some ways, it’s been downhill ever since.