the seraph painted in red on the scrim that came down between acts at last night's tosca really did look like the she-wolf created for agrippina, the last Big Art we saw before entering lockdown last year, but we would have been reminded of it anyway, of course. i can't help feeling that our deciding to return to the met for opera caused the weird, dark turn new york city has taken this week–that would be very operatic–but epidemics probably don't strike poses like that.

last week i saw and scoffed at a few tweets about how the city was starting to feel as it felt last march, which is ridiculous: sirens howled all night every night, refrigerated trucks accumulated in front of the hospitals, i remember using bleach on our floor at one point, being unable to smell it, and collapsing into tears, sure that i was going to die. people were exiting like tosca, just stepping into air.

the man sitting beside me in the family circle was one of those operagoers who peers like a sniper through his opera glasses and volleys big, hearty BRAVO!s over the balcony as he claps for arias, and i loved him. i was the blue-haired lady with a passing tickle in her throat who coughed once, twice through her mask into her velvet cloak, and i didn't think until i woke up this morning with joint pain, a headache, and a proper soreness in that throat that anything truly tragic had happened. by the time i'd learned that all of the testing sites in the neighborhood had maxed out for the day and that PCR test results are taking at least three and more like five days to come back, the combined effects of my morning coffee, ibuprofen, a brisk walk around the lower east side and watery sunshine had somehow addressed all of those things: why, even the plantar fasciitis i've had since halloween disappeared for a few hours! i extended the walk as long as i could, grateful for a little more time.

it does feel like borrowed time. i got a booster shot a month ago and am eight lives away from crying on my bleachy floor, but the thought of having sidelined everyone's nana via the opera was a dreadful one. my sister and her family canceled travel plans to see us after christmas; i brushed my cloak and folded it into deep storage again. as i was telling friends today, i'm reminded of swimming in the pacific when i was a little girl–of watching a massive wave crest far too close, knowing it's too late to dive through it, and holding my breath and flattening myself on the ocean floor. send a body head over heels just once and it falls in step with the tide forever.


pauline said...

I am very interested in the photo from that Agrippina link. How was it?

lauren said...

it was fantastic! nero should always sing from a side plank, IMHO. not used to laughing out loud so much at the opera, but i'm into it.