Sitting near Wisdom and Felicity. 

July 24th, 2014, 11am

There is an inexorable force that pulls me into the oval. Placed here in 1866 by Calvert Vaux, before the memorial arch of soldiers and sailors crowned with Lady Columbia on her chariot, before the Art Deco public library across the street built to look like an open book, this planned oval introduces Prospect Park.

Five years in Brooklyn, four apartments, and so many neighborhood walks later, I find my steps still veer toward the Bailey Fountain in the center of the oval, finished in 1932 after the subway won the underground space needed for the previous Electric Fountain and its light shows (F. W. Darlington created the dancing city water displays of his day with pneumatic valves and thousands of jets), that had replaced a leaky 1873 domed fountain with colored glass and gaslights. Trains run beneath your feet and cars race around the busiest traffic circle in the borough as you sit with Neptune, Triton, a boy with a cornucopia, and the nude figures that represent Wisdom and Felicity.

You have to stalk quiet in this city, wrestle with the stature of everyone you pass. They deserve to be here as much as you do, and anyway, any tenure is earned by dint of returning. By ignoring the noise. The noise is always just outside any circle you draw, muffled, present. As impossible to cancel as the low buzz that makes this place go. The noise is stealthy and whispers reminders. This is the bench where I wore three sweaters and cried: my grandmother was in the hospital for the last time. That is the bench where I knew he’d fallen for me. The same bench where I knew we were over. The curved part I come to pace thinking about people who will never change their patterns, knowing I need to change mine. Thinking that it might be nice someday to again have someone who likes to know where I am off to when I slip out, who runs fingers through my hair that has been so many colors lately and wonders. It’s another gift, meantime, that the city appreciates, but does not require explanations.

In front of the still fountain one morning in March, I balanced dozens of eggs with 40 women on the vernal equinox. Today, little summer campers march through holding their knot on the class rope, dogs snap at the mist slicking the stones. The clouds shift, alternating the water sprays between dazzling and determined over the virtuous statues in this toehold that can be a little bit yours for the taking on a Thursday in July.

Ragini, Christine, Chris, David Wade and 7 others said thanks.

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Kristen Taylor

drinker of raw milk, founder/editor of @saucymag, call me @kthread

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