Jenna loves coffee and only dates Jewish people. The walk was filled with many silent moments. After offering to get me some coffee before our walk, Jenna and I quickly slipped into the north entrance of the park. With great awkwardness, I tried directing the discussion, but soon realized that she seemed fine with wandering quietly hand-in-hand.
So I let up. Took some breaths and just let the talking come and go. It was easy-going. The air stung.
I was surprised to see that I did not take many pictures of Jenna. Maybe I was scared to ask. Her hand was very comforting to hold. But also almost inappropriate. The more she didn’t give me attention, the more I wanted it. Still, I felt calm around her. At first I wanted to impress her, make her see how cool and dateable us Gentile folk could be, but I let that go. I had to let that go. This walk was about Jenna, not me.
“I don’t love myself yet.”
“It’s unfinished work,” she added without a beat.
Her pain was palpable. She did not smile often, but when she did, it was warm and bright. With Prospect Park’s winding paths, tunnels of trees, and secluded pockets, the walk felt long and faraway.
“I hate my dad…You have to hate to get past the pain.”
My mind wandered a lot and I felt a great sadness for Jenna that mixed in with my own grief. I loved her honesty and the way she was very deliberate in everything she said. Neither of us seemed willing to push the conversation forward. I’d think, “Should I ask her a question now or just let it sit?”
Do you believe in love?
“Yes,” she said, “in the moment.” But we cannot build it up because it is always there. We are immersed in it, she explained.
I imagined the endless amounts of love surrounding us. I filled my imaginary cup with all the different forms of love, between people, friends, family, nature…but it all seeped and sifted through. I still want to possess it. Declare Love from others and call it mine—more unfinished work.
What do you hate?
“Styrofoam,” she replied.”I hate styrofoam. The sound, the carcinogens, [the fact] that it will live longer than me.”
Jenna works with children with Autism; she wears a ring from Israel that she cherishes; and if she could be any animal, it would be a hummingbird. Though she shared only a little about her life to me, each fact weighed heavy in sincerity.
We sat for a while on a bedrock-like tree stump, people watching. The old tree’s roots wrapped around the edge of the path, lifting us above the scene below. I felt like a kid again with a hiding spot. Jenna told me she like to write too. Poetry.
I asked her to make a poem on the spot.
A walk in the park
A lovely hand to grab hold
It’s cold but so warm
So cold yet so warm
11/22/14. Prospect Park.