Thursday, December 14, 2006

On joy

Darlings, Pretty Lady is merely Dashing Through this afternoon, as she has a date to go photograph the windows at Bergdorf's, as a special Christmas present to all of you dear readers. Everyone should see the windows at Bergdorf's. They are Capitalistic Excess combined with Populistic Access; both over the top, and free. Pretty Lady visited them earlier in the week, but alas, her camera had no batteries. She has rectified the battery issue, and is headed forth again, before attending some Late Night Holiday Theatre at Union Square.

If Pretty Lady has not written on Joy before, perhaps this is because she was unwilling to be so personal and vulnerable, candid as she generally is. But now 'tis the season, and Pretty Lady is in an exuberant mood, and willing to risk being both cliche'd, and arrested. Hopefully not for the same things.

The fact is, Pretty Lady once took an illegal drug. This was not the source of Joy, but it gives her an inkling into the process of achieving it, as well as an interesting hook with which to frame an Illustrative Narrative, less the cliches come too fast and thick, and Pretty Lady's friends look elsewhere for scintillating entertainment.

The occasion upon which Pretty Lady ingested this illicit substance was once upon a New Years' Eve, long long ago, during some dark ages when Pretty Lady was having a bad, bad time. She will not elaborate upon the circumstances; with time and distance, just about every dire circumstance appears banal and uninteresting. Suffice it to say that Pretty Lady had spent the daylight hours of this long ago New Years' Eve, huddled in her basement apartment in a fetal position, with the demons of Panic and Desperation howling round her brain.

But, late in the evening, she roused herself to depart the basement, at the behest of her then-whatchamacallit, an elflike person who, with all his flaws, was the sort of person to stick around during demonic infestations. He was not particularly talented at beating them off, having more a tendency to engage in a commiserating, wallowing, Blaming sort of way, but he was comfort enough. The two of them ended up at some random party with random people, as was their wont. At this party, which she cannot now remember, her whatchamacallit handed her a little white pill, which she took, despite her 'what the hell' outlook, with some misgiving.

Forty-five minutes later, everything was Fine.

Pretty Lady spent the next several hours going places and doing things; it didn't much matter what. When people would ask her what she wanted to do, she explained very earnestly that it didn't matter. "I could be perfectly happy, standing on a street corner in the dark and in the rain," she said. "Please yourself. I am Taken Care Of."

Her whatchamacallit was fairly Fine, too, in his own way; it was evident, however, that his way did not particularly resonate with Pretty Lady's. Their customary roles appeared to be reversed. The whatchamacallit ended up on the dance floor, doing interpretive movement and eyeing the herd, while Pretty Lady stood in a corner and was Fine. At one point, they were in a bar, and the paintings on the walls, as far as Pretty Lady were concerned, were Great Art. She experienced a powerful curiosity to return in daylight and find out what they really looked like; she will never know.

It does not matter, anyway.

Still later, Pretty Lady's whatchamacallit went home and tied himself up, in an exceptionally elaborate way. Pretty Lady watched him, disinterestedly. Her disinterestedness cut her whatchamacallit to the quick; they had a row, and Pretty Lady walked home. It was dawn, and the distance was six miles or so, over various tall hills.

Pretty Lady was Fine. She saw her life spread out before her, and it was grand. She saw the ups, the downs, the struggles and the triumphs; she saw how it all fit together in a perfect spiralling jigsaw puzzle. She knew she would go forth, and do things, and some of them would fail. But through it all, she would be Fine.

This sense of Fineness never really left her. She did not take another little white pill again; why hold onto the receiver, when the message has been delivered?

But, regarding Joy--Pretty Lady cannot directly communicate to you darlings, her sense that things are Fine. Frequently she loses touch with this sensation, in its full intensity, for years at a time. Her perceptions become clouded with a sense of grimness, of failure, of confusion and striving and disappointment.

However she can tell you this, for certain. The Joy is what's underneath. The Stuff, all of it--the Happenings, the Loss, the Misery, the Dwelling, the Exigency, the Need, the Struggle, the Things, the Stories--is all on top. It's the crusty glop in the way, the rust on the surface, the excess to be sanded off by a diligent hand. The good, the bad and the ugly--those are all chimeras in the path of Joy.

And when they are gone, only Joy remains. Really truly. I promise.


Desert Cat said...

It's through the cracks we catch a glimmer of paradise.

Pretty Lady said...