Friday, June 27, 2008

Dancing in Fountains

Do you remember the book From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler?

One of the best scenes in that book was that of the children bathing in the fountain at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. And I always wondered whether it would be possible to bathe or dance in a fountain, just for the pleasure of it, just to see if you could. What would it be like to do that, especially since fountains are the equivalent of wishing wells, which means you'd have your bare feet up against the coins that people throw in, and engage in a dance with the world and nature as one?

Well, now I know! Not at the Met, but at Columbus Circle. If you ever desire to go dancing in fountains at Columbus Circle, you just need to be there at four or five in the morning. It's gorgeous at that time of night, because everything is dim, but the fountain itself is lit up, and so the water is lit. And you can go dancing in fountains! This aside from the fact that you meet the nicest homeless people in the world.

I think I need to be educated about homeles people. For example, I hadn't realized there were all different sorts before; I had figured they somehow fell into a conglomerate. But of course, that's so untrue! So while I was at Columbus Circle with Jordan, we saw this man with a water bottle who was pouring water from the fountain into the vents near the benches. We approached him to ask him why, and in wonderfully articulate English he explained that there are fumes rising through the vents, and that he is trying to stave off their effects. He said that he is against hatred and the slow poisoning of people. When I questioned whether he loved people, then, he said affection is a different matter, but at least he does not hate them. And I found that to be beautiful. Because here he is, this man, truly believing that terrible fumes rise up out of the vents of the city, and does he abandon his post? No! Instead he goes on, pouring water from one vessel into another, saving the city in his own small way.

Perhaps different homeless people are actually supermen in disguise. And I think that's wonderful, that I got to see one of them, because it makes me appreciate them so much the more. How many people can claim they have stayed up a night in order to try to save other human beings they don't even know?

Then we met Becky, who identified herself as a "traveler" rather than a homeless person. She is lovely and very pro-Israel, and told us she would make Jordan a blue-and-white bracelet in the colors of Israel one day. She is the most normal person you would ever meet, except that she believes in aliens and would mention them in the same sentence as a cup of coffee. But honestly, that isn't too strange in our world today. I just found it surprising and gratifying to learn that the man on the street is similar to the man in the corporate world. There is so much to connect people, and so little to separate them.

In other news, I have decided Alibaba's shwarma is inferior to that of Golan Heights, Ari & David's is fun, Times Square is not busy at 4-5 AM (and is beautiful, actually) and hotel lobbies are a party. They are gorgeous, you see, exquisitely decorated and otherwise fascinating. Hurrah for hotel lobbies for the rest of my life!

2 comments:

Gil Student said...

One of my all-time favorite books.

an old friend said...

Chana,you are a hopeless romantic!