One of my absolute favorite things about the holidays in New York is the smell of Christmas trees for sale lining the sidewalk. As a Jew I didn’t grow up with a Christmas tree. As a Jew I still don’t have a Christmas tree. But as a Jew, I fucking love Christmas trees, and my main experience of them is that walk-by smell. The goy whiff. Yum.
So that’s one thing.
In the wake of the horror that just happened in India, the last few days I’ve felt more appreciative of the little everyday nicenesses I see in my neighborhood. The tidbits of kindness and friendliness. I see these and imagine all the basic human goodness in the world being piled onto a giant golden scale, one act by one act, and measuring against the terribleness. At my cafe this morning a young man sits down to read the paper next to an older man and they stop to chat. The young man inquires about where the old man lives, shows curiosity about his life. The old man is happy to talk. One little kindness. The place gets crowded and a family pulls chairs around the table next to me, a bit squished. I decide to get up to reduce their squishness (I was kinda done anyway) and the dad thanks me. I say you’re welcome. He asks me if there’s any good news in the paper? Is it worth reading today? I smile and say you gotta go pretty deep in. (The paper seems increasingly to be lots of pictures of fire). Maybe Sports? He smiles. I get my scarf on. He tells me to have a nice day. The scale tips the tiniest fraction of an inch. I go to my local magazine shop and buy Real Simple (something I always feel like I should read and then do absolutely nothing recommended on any of the pages.) The magazine guy says hi how are you. Good I say. How are you? Good he says. Have a nice day we say. Little acts of peace, tipping the scale fractions more. All over the world, I hope, these moments of copacetic decency add up to something.
Speaking of which:
Happy Go Lucky is such an amazing movie. I think my favorite of the year. I saw it a few days ago and I’m still thinking about it all the time. Sally Hawkins makes this Poppy character into something special, something meaningful and complicated. I have always wanted to be that kind of person, a happy go lucky person, and this story is about what that really takes, how to be buoyant without being ignorant, how to appreciate other people’s pain, stop to help them and feel their sadness, but still glide forward like you have big sails. It’s about how to have faith. How to believe in people. Her wardrobe is a beautiful expression of the movie’s whole philosophy. Silly colored sweaters, funny fishnets, a rainbow necklace. Top to bottom joie de vivre.