The View from Here, Part 2, “Snowfall”
“The View from Here” will be posted as a series.This post may contain material of a mature nature, rate it “R”, please be advised.
Exploring these images with words is new, more like the touch tour I once had of a Picasso sculpture, feeling the very metal, and splayed substance of its cold bulk, exploring its subtle aspects.
The snapshots are the same, with many facets, casting hues diffracting, radiating, mirrored, constructed, disnantled. I've put them here, out of the trash can of obscurity, safe for awhile. Just a few.
A red paper envelope holds this snapshot, packed tight along with a lot of similar ones, from a series of fairly sharp mages made when I traveled to switzerland and Italy.When I could still focus the lens.
A thin man stands outdoors at the left edge in a yellow rain jacket, olive green bag slung over one shoulder. Hes on the tall side, but you cant really tell that here. Adding more details isnt important, but if you need to flesh in more, Darius is a darker sort of Medaterranian appeaeance, and in his mid thirties .
Distant and below are seen protrusions of rocky mountain crags and envelpoing whites of snowy hazes.A dark metal railing runs across near the bottom. And a sleek black bird perches on the rail at the picture's right, the two face one another, each eyeing the other, and he, my friend, offers the bird what I think is a piece of a banana on a stick from his extended hand. Darius' lips are as though in mid speech, and he hates this snapshot and tells me I have the knack of catching people when they look the most horrible, but I don't intend that at all. Darius dislikes this picture so much, he stole it, but he didn't know i had a second copy. I like it.
I visited my friend Darius and his lover Tom for two weeks while they were living in Basel Switzerland, and Darius was commuting to Zurich to finish his studies in Mathematics. His field is Algebraic Geometry. Then after returning to New York he published his work on spaces with infintie dimesnions, and proved them finite. It seemed that, depending on where you were, it can turn out to be more dimenional than expected.
One day we took the train to Zermatt and transfered to a special Glacier train to the top of Monte Rosa -a lofty and stunning place.
The Matterhorn jutted up, far, yet immense still, standing out like a polished and varnished, spotlit crown. We went to rub our faces in the clouds, or, I did anyway.
You felt the altitude pull your breath out as the train progressed higher, leaving the greenery of Zermatt far below. The few remaing pine tres eventually all vanished. We ran unsteadily around the empty passanger carriage from one side to the other in subdued awe at the unfolding sharp ridges, and sparkling crevasses. The car tilted sharply upward, climbing above even the clouds scurrying below, entombing the dark peaks here and there in mist.
An observation platform allowed a broad panorama at the train line's end.
Behind the photographer's back and unseen in this snaposhot, is a long series of stairs, which led even further up to a sturdy, cylindrical building of brown stone - an Astronomical Observatory. It was topped by a modern silvery dome. Later at night, above the haze of the world, it would swing open, impatient for data, The huge telescope's sharp eye, not lost, peered superbly at stellar nurseries, to resolve multiple star systems, and even further, myriads of rosies and pinwheels- spikey gold, cocked at every angle, torn apart, colliding islands, spilling and spewing trillions of ruby red suns, water- worlds, hijacked jewels, and ringed moons and warm hued footballs softly abalze and stretched, gathering all, all countless islands holding uncountable suns. Up there, later, engrained upon more sensetive chips, its eye observed in X-ray and infrared, phenemona invisible among the interstellar void, but though
invisible, reveal much, and tell the curious...stories.
invisible, reveal much, and tell the curious...stories.
We arrived just as the Matterhorn and its vast company of stone giants disappeared when all grew grayer, the wind picked up and a snow storm blew in very rapidly. Laughing at the June snow, we took photos of ourselfs making snowballs. Exhilarated, awed and clutching the handrails, we looked down far, far below to the small glacial lake -semi precious azure - scalloped into the snow valley. I imagined sliding down the white snow, and diving in from it's small snow cliff, holding my breath underwater, staring and submerged, enveloped and stunned by the intensity and purity of it's vivid blue.
Darius watched the birds fly and dive below aware of the beauty, which itself, is unaware of its own. Around us the red swiss flags snapped and folded wildly, and the snowfall fogged the broad platforms.
Darius grew more subdued but retained his gaze into my eyes, an almost painful, constant awareness.
We parted company.Well, he did, telling me he'd be back soon. "Okay but where are you going?" I asked. "Just hang around here - I'll be back soon." he said, turning and going off into the snowstorm.
I walked around, peering in all directions at the Swiss views dimmed by mist. I didn't use my blind cane then, but if I walked carefully in daylight, usually could manage not to collide too often.
The eaves of a roof offered those around shelter from the June snow, it fell thickly now, and we smiled, the laughter and soft chatter of many languages muffled, our faces upturned, and waited for it to let up.
Squinting at all this, I got restless and wandered into the snowfall. I tried to find him, tried up those stairs, near a small outbuilding, I scanned and rescanned there, trying to catch in the little tunnel, some yellow, or familiar shape. I heard two taps beside me on the glass, and found him inside, fringed by the interior gloom, seated peacefully, appearing both very near and very far, and sipping from a cup.We nodded.
We talked about that trip later sometimes. He avoided filling me in on where he'd gone then during the snowstorm, the longer he evaded my questions, the more curious I became. Twenty years allow me to relate this, and its not much.
Before I'd known my friend he had met a man in college here in New York,who was also studying mathematics there, but Darius' feelings for this studious, determined student weren't fulfiled meaningfully. By chance they met once again some time later. Grant, it seemed had intense feelings for my friend as well, and, at last they joined together as lovers.
Then together they constructed. Math. Origami, folded. Unfurling. Ferociously. Shiny glasses, toolboxes and a floor of coins. Each night they slept under piles of laundry,wet faces, fingers tenderly entwinned around the soft hair of the other, the Egyptian and the Slav, the damp, shared air.
Darius drew Grant tightly, brushing his hair, cleaning his smudged glasses. Grant of the askew collar.
I can undertsnad how a sheet of paper 100 miles long and two feet widei s of course, very large in our three dimensions. But tilted on its tiny edge its reduced, nearly invisible. Similarly they tilted dimensions and topgraphies. Math, Darius would tell me allows you to understand truth by proofs, numeracal patterns emerge, which, in effect, reflect structures in other dimensions. Like radar boucning, we can underdtand the reflections in how the numbers deliver thier patterns. In all dimesnions you can take math with you. The numbers, the proofs, have no obligation to make sense to anyone.
That time entwined with his lover then, was fertile, and laid the foundations for much of what was to follow in Darius' research, proofs he uncovered that frightened him, frightened him enough to cause him to stop publication, put it away for later, so signifigant were the implications, he himself could not deal with their meaning.
Darius had met the embodiment of his fufilment and warm completion, someone who understood him, a Giacometti with one of the highest IQ scores in the state, but little sense of making things easy for himself. Ahead was their life. Their fingers traced along Darius' globe, the travels they'd make together.
Grant's parents disaproved of his nature and relationship, they forced him to abandon Darius, as well as Grant's authentic self, for their own sake. In Darius' presence his mother told him he had to marry a woman. Grant submiited to his parents devastating abuse and threats. He left New York for the South and a proper Christan environment. In misery, he meekly allowed himself to be forced to undergo conversion to heterosexality by or else theye'd withdraw all support of him.
But an essence can't be bottled up without branching off, and Grant just arranged a firmer dividing wall, finding comfort in uninhibited pleasure filled encounters with other guys, like a prisoner suddenly breaking free of his jail. His parent's version of life... without Darius beside him. A prim, endorsed, yawning, uncreative, listless nod to default norms, blending well with all the Republicans, who were his community down South.
“Go get tested” his partners told him. He did.
Grant returned to New York. He had contracted HIV. He was abondened with disinterest by his family.
On one of the very few times Darius could speak about this,
his voice trembled and seethed with hatred, and he'd hurl every deserved curse at Grant's parents, his mother, who'd seperated by then, dating blitlehly while her son wasted away, even going out on a date the night her son died.
"They absolutely destroyed that man" he'd seethe "Do you know what he told me? I can't love you anymore, I'm sorry he told me, I'm a Christian ."
“Stop yelling at me Darius”, I'd beg him. “Its me- I'm not your enemy remember?” He'd pause just a second."I'm not yelling...at... you ...and they felt entitled, obligated even, murdered him indirectly."
Dying in a hospice, Darius wheeled his skelatal, dying beloved Grant, in the gardens of the place in Yonkers, a.park near the River banks of the Hudson.There they used to ride bikes, training for the tri atlhon.
I never met Grant, but twice I heard his struggling, ravaged voice. I glimpsed his emaciated, face on a short video Darius made at the hospice, But the first I encountered Grant was accidntally. I wasn't supposed to hear that. Returnng home with him one afternoon, Darius went into his bedroom and checked his messages, while I waited nearby. Grant had left a message. Grant's scream startled me. Darius' fingers fumbled trying to shut it off, but his agony shook the room with a curdling shriek – the shriek of a man who has absolutly nothing left.
I imagine them under the shade, close to the ferocious albeido of the currents that churn the Hudson, soothing and grounding this parting in something greater. Both men are aware, not agape, like travelers. Its abstract. Blurred.
They touched the river together. Grant said to Darius "Here, this is for you. " and gave him a slip of paper reading "Have a good life Darius"and very soon after, Darius would reverantly place it inside a special receptacle that he keeps near the window, where the birds hover and pause alertly to ascertain, and alight to feed. Darius drew a triangle in the dirt with a stick. A triangle is also true.
"Grant ...I want something from you, something only you can give me. Pick something here. My love my Grant.Your will is there. Your presence, my love, is in it's choosing. Pick Grant please let me retain you in some way when you leave". Grant looked around and gave Darius a small stone. Darius, though one who attempts to remind himself of denial and hardship, and the teachings of the Buddha, and to practice detachment may have let that slip away, I dont know.
"My Puppies, it's the most precious object, the most invaluable treasure to me - this rock - this nothing of a stone - is in fact, everything."
Darius, remembering his Grant thought..."A life of contentment, in the context of making life better, without insight is meaningless. A direct effect of real insight is the increased ability to love, in the true sense. This has nothing to do with leading a nice, comfortable life. On the contrary. I'm afraid those who love, suffer the most, but 'most' is relative I guess. If you have the goal of leading a relaxed life, you're missing the point."
Whether he flung it far, far down into the frozen valley, or placed it solemnly between two cold granite slabs, I don't know, and I never will.
Copyright © Steven Erra 2015 All rights reserved.
Some names and details may have been changed.