I’m writing this on used-up hospital papers. They’re used-up by incoherent scribbles created by my dad, who is very much dying. He is sustained with wires and tubes, like a robot. A robot in search of an incoming signal and desperate for us to perceive his outgoing one. But we’re all failing, each in his and her own way.
This time, his room is directly above the FDR highway. A window facing south is new for us. Usually he has a direct view of Astoria’s low industrial buildings. It’s a nice vista for the early sun. Dusk from this vantage point is not worth mentioning. But then the city flickers on, like christmas lights slowly igniting, making up for the lack of stars above.
It’s from these windows that I like to watch the ants crawling around. Where are they going? Are they in love with someone? Are their lives amounting to what they want? Do they know that everything we do and don’t do amounts to something? I don’t much care where they’re going, but I desperately wish them the best in life.
For the ants resting in this ICU, I wish them all the best, too.
But my window is one of trillions. My face – framed by steel and glass, sad and sober, looking out onto a world beyond that pushes ceaselessly, mercilessly forward – but one of billions. The ants carry on fearlessly. FDR, New York’s east side artery, moves eternally on. The cars, the taxis, the grocery vans and garbage trucks, they all have places to be, things to do, money to make, children to get home to and hug, dinner to warm up. Beside it, the East River, gray and sluggish, flows south towards the Freedom Tower. And the city surrounding these vessels hums its usual song.∗