I leave the studio laughing, and look over underneath the Korean bodega’s awning – an amalgamation of cultures in a place some consider to be the ultimate melting pot. I don’t see such unification but a new Berlin wall waving and winding with no discernible trajectory. This concrete boundary is covered with frustrated grafitti in the form of Union Square protests, anarchy symbols posted on innocent lampost bystanders and the odd individual dressed in true punk attire, not just overpriced, fashionable items from Trash and Vaudeville on St. Mark’s Place. That’s where the pseuds go, where the Japanese girls go, giggling and enamored of what they think Western culture to be, so many arrive in fact that the store has a no photographs policy written in deep, thick permanent marker lines on careless cardboard.
“If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”, a 90’s songstress shrieked, but then, isn’t what is good for you considered bad in this culture? We claim to be so open and accepting but everything is designed to induce guilt in the imbiber, the sexual practitioner, the one sitting there enjoying a piece of that cake, a serriptitous cigarette. “You’ll pay for that later,” billboards and advertisements wag a warning finger. I want to know who really pays any heed to these messages.
As usual, I’m on one side of the rainsoaked road, enjoying the yogic afterglow – a rich person’s indulgence, apparently, for which I pay dearly every time I come to the mat. According to the Sutras, somehow this will all make sense, one day, but occasionally I blindly and blithely run smack into a God in there too, which is the one word that leads me to put up my own fence, and step away from further discussion. Perhaps I can open my mind more as much as I am trying to open my body, but how can I believe in something of which I have no experience, that I cannot touch, see hear, smell, taste?
They say the same thing about love, but I think people are confused. People are afraid of love’s more carnal, non commercial side.
So outside the bodega ahead of me, I watch the overweight, drug addled homeless man roll off someone seated next to him. Androgynous. Perhaps a female face with junkie features peeks out from the man’s hat this being is wearing, but the expression on her/his face is so blank – a spot on this wall that has yet to be plastered with too many protestations about class inequality, unoccupied by anti Wall Street protesters, or maybe it’s a too real and unpolished surface on which to proclaim…
It’s no secret what the pair were doing, and I look away, quickly as the man shoves his hands into a pair of jeans falling off his large frame. It’s 8:45 am and his head is lolling around like the club kids’ at 2:45 am. The bench they’re sitting on is usually reserved to display flowers for sale. Today, there are no unseasonal bouquets. Today, it is raining.
I cross the street and move through the barrier of rain. My umbrella is keeping me dry, and I look away, focusing on the conversation, trying to decide whether I should stop at this almost oxymoronic Korean bodega and buy something in a packet to sate post-practice hunger, or whether just to walk on, my self in this no-man’s land where I choose not to protest because I lack the wealth, the poverty or the excuse to choose a side, and where I hope to carry a white flag, not symbolising surrender but a blank canvas I use to create something beautiful, giving away the images to perhaps too many others.
I manage to survive. I can’t say that about everyone.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”