Контент 14+ I have always loved bridges, balconies, and high windows. On the other hand, modern office complexes, high-rise housing projects, shopping malls, government buildings – all of the general edifices of modern civilization — usually leave me colder than a frozen lake. There are exceptions, of course. Lately — and I will return to this point — I have taken a big love to Moscow City. Can’t get enough of it. So wait.
Bridges are symbolic. They are connectors but also jumping off points. There is always the river underneath, and the people passing over these bridges feel the chill of the restless waters even as they go from the land behind them to the land in front. So, this means that while they are on the bridge, they are in limbo. Sort of like when you fly in an airplane. Way up in the air, you lose control, you are at a loss, gliding at rapid speeds which you do not — thankfully — have a sense or awareness of, guided by pilots and computers which you do not understand. High in the sky, you realize that you have relinquished all control, Other forces are in charge.
On a bridge you may experience firsthand the sudden power of water and wind, and, as in the concept of flying, your sense of control weakens. But it is different. In an aircraft, you ride in a capsule. Pretty (hopefully) stewardesses roam the aisles, bringing coffee and food and, above all, glances from their tidy eyes measured out in expressions of confidence and reassurance. If indeed they are nice-looking, you feel (or at least I do) somehow safer. These beautiful women, I think to myself, will not die today. It is not their destiny. So you will land in one piece.
But on a bridge, you are your own pilot, and for some strange reason bridges seem to reach into the soul. Like Edmund Monck’s “Scream” — the famous one with the woman crossing whose mouth is oval-open howling out some primeval despair. Bridges, especially long ones like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (which on blustery days simply disappears into the mist halfway up) cause us to mix memory and desire into a kind of melancholy disembodiment.
We shiver on bridges. But bridges are also places where we experience the deepst yearning. Bridges are for lovers, expats, rejects, and suicides. They have a power of their own.
Balconies. Where I grew up in America, we had none. Just houses with sheer walls and harsh windows like in a lunatic asylum, and I was one of those inmates trying to claw my way out. In other words, there was no connection between the interior of the house (I lived in a house) and the exterior of the street. .But from an early age, I loved the street and what was going on in it. Of course, where I lived, in Middle Class America, nothing was happening in those dead avenues after all the hellish boys and girls and dogs and cats went in for supper. So there was nothing to see.
Fortunately, my dad was an artist, and he showed me many paintings from the old European masters. In Europe they had balconies, and those portals, those bridges, between solitude and society were absorbed together. I used to imagine living with some sensual, aging (never young, surprise) European woman, and spending the evenings tending to the plants and drinking wine on those intimate balconies overhanging the boisterous streets below. I was just a boy — and I suppose that nobody in my American city thought about just things — but I wanted to live with some older European women who had a balcony just beyond her bed, She would teach me the things of life I would never know in America. A maure woman who could drive me crazy with the conjuring powers of her hands and the rich fullness of her lounging, erotic feet spreading from beneath an ornate old robe. I imagined such a woman, and I was right. My core beliefs and impulses have always turned out be authentic. So I knew that I would end up in Paris or Amsterdam or some such city, and there would be the old world woman and the old world balcony. I didn’t imagine Moscow then. But that real, true balcony of my spirit was here all along just waiting for me. And the woman making tea.
Windows. I see two kinds. Outside my apartment, on the balcony of course, I go, nowadays to smoke and drink coffee or tea, depending on what time it is. Early morning, it’s cheap instant coffee. Later, if I need a stimulus, I sup the green tea. More energy without that sense of caffeine overkill and the jitters and objecting heart. Never mind, I see the story of the trees. I understand that summer has gone, and now the branches shake together in the wind like homeless old men, If you watch nature, you will see that, at least in terms of our physical lifetimes, it pronounces a beautiful truth that we should take inspiration from and maybe worry about: death-knowledge Nature expresses death and life in an apparently endless circle. Without grief, in fact with the levity of the winds, which blows like old girlfriends. It does’t mean to be cruel; it doesn’t care if it is.
Meanwhile I gaze out and upwards at all the high windows, and I wonder every night what is happening behind them. . Young men pleasing their wives, terrible, endless arguments, lonely, crushing bouts with alcohol, tedious nights of isolated boredom and even despair — what is going on behind those thousands of windows that stare back at me, glimmering like an endless exhibition of Halloween teeth?
I look, but it is incomprehensible. As in Moscw City, where I often work in the evenings. I gaze up at the ovewhelming expertise behind the making of the buildings, curving and arching into stems that even the Romans would not have thought possible, all based on a superb technology and engineering principles that I will never comprehend –I peer at those snakelike, streamlined towers of glass and I pass among the flood of men and women pouring out of them at all hours.
I teach English classes in some of those offices in Mercury Tower and Imperia Tower.
When I finish my class, high up among those floors,, and when everyone starts to dissipate into private lives, pressures, partners, etc., I realise that I am only miniscule, that I am limited, and that the secrets behind those windows — business, money and sex — belong to such a multitude as I could never fathom, count or meet. Outside the picture window on the 52th floor of Imperia Tower the gleaming vastness of Moscow spreads before me like a glittering jewel or squirming, radiant amphibian..
But the inhabitants, one by one, in their offices or their apartments, are just people. The take off their shoes at night and put them on in the morning. Most of them will have moments of glory, and most will die in a dizzy tailspin, utterly alone..
But in the dark evening there, and even later at my home, I stand also alone, gazing into the high windows which, regardless of the usual angry arguments and restless nights within, still, in the moonlight, seem indicative of something endless, and azure blue, and rich and wonderfully mysterious. And something in me cries out, not to be included, or even accepted, but simply to bellow out my skyrocketing Existence, as a wolf in the forest howls. Just wild. And so lonesome and hysterically ecstatic..
===Eric Richard Leroy===