Cold Comfort Farm has lots of lovely associations for me, not least of which is the fact that it's an immensely charming comedic novel of what it means to be essentially human. I plucked it off the shelf at a genteel old club in London in the spring (on the kind of trip where the missives began, "Today it rained..."), and read it in one furious gulp curled up in front of a roaring fire in the library, my favorite cucumber sandwich and tea laid out on a tray before me and disappearing in bits and bites with whatever distraction I could muster for my free hand. When I returned to New York, I think I was swanning around after midnight with one of the proprietors of a truly beloved vintage jewelry shop in Fort Greene when he said he'd have to send it to me (I'd read it because I remembered he'd once mentioned it in passing. Say something once to me and it's etched in granite, evermore). A little while later, a gorgeous old edition of the sequel showed up in the post, followed by a crisp new edition of the original. More recently, I was traveling around the country a few weeks ago with a dear friend who I think of as a twin flame to mine, when he told me about his partner's exquisite ceramic artistry. No surprise there.
The other night at the University Club, San Francisco (photographer: Whitney Lawson)
Almost three weeks ago, I rushed out of my apartment to catch an early morning flight to Chicago for an evening wedding. I had been out at a party the night before, and would be back again in less than 24 hours (I assumed, and so thought I knew this to be true), and took with me a red silk evening gown, a pair of gold evening shoes, and a fur coat. The next day, I barely made the last flight back to New York, but too late to return to my apartment before the evacuation order was issued. I plan to return this afternoon. At one point, I lost a set of borrowed housekeys and wept on a park bench until another woman in a fur coat stopped and tried to help me. I hadn't cried in three years. I realized that one never has any real sense of what another person is going through. I learned that words are not enough. I found out that more people cared about me, far more than I ever would have known in my life otherwise. My unshakeable faith in spiritual matters and astrology is gone, replaced by what I can't quite say. In some ways, I woke up from a kind of slumber that might have otherwise lasted forever; a beautiful dream but it was only that. My long-held hopes for a holiday will have to be deferred so that I can save up to move when my lease is up in the spring. This year, in truth, has been altogether bruising, and yet I have received so much. I saw my brother briefly and at one point, he observed that my sister interrupts herself when she expresses dismay and says, "But I'm so grateful for everything." I said, we live together. That's how we talk; and we are, beyond measure.