an almost visit

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It was not pleasant returning home in the summer. The summers are hot in New York and they are also incredibly humid. I did not have an air conditioner. I did not want an air conditioner. Air conditioners just eat energy, they are just there to make a certain time of the year artificially more bearable, but they just create a virtual environment in the house that somehow denies the true location of the house. If New York was hot in the summer, I wanted to know that I am in New York in the summer, not in some humming refrigerated space. I would even leave the window in the bedroom open, to get more of the good New York air into the room. My window in the bedroom was facing a backyard with gardens and trees. It was the fourth floor in a brownstone and I had a terrace. It was a beautiful terrace. The entrance to the terrace was a window. The window had a steel gate with a special security lock. The lock would not allow anybody from the outside to open it, and so it was save to leave the window open during the day, even when I was not there. There was no possibility for anybody or anything to enter my apartment. Or so it seemed.
It was not pleasant to return home on this summer evening. The houses of the city collect all the heat they can get during the day and then they release it all night long, waiting for the sun to heat them up again. The stairway of the brownstone smelled warm and musty. The stairs had been falling apart for years. The paint on the walls showed deep open cracks. The Building was moving slowly with the others on the block. It was a fall that would probably take another hundred years. By that time somebody would probably replace the entire building by some other piece of real estate and the game could begin anew. Until then it was possible to charge quite substantial rent for the small apartments created by dividing the narrow brownstone floors into front and back. The apartment smelled much nicer than the hallway. It faced north, so the was always sly dimmed. The window in the living-room was much bigger than the one in the narrow bedroom.
The bedroom was so narrow I could touch both walls at the same time. This was a “junior one bedroom” a studio into which the landlord managed to squeeze a dividing wall.
I discovered the head by accident. The futon was folded, so I could sit on it and have access to the window that lead to the terrace. My bedroom was as wide as an open futon. The head was on the futon cover. It did not move. It was just there. It was one of the big ones. Two large eyes, a shiny greenish front, there was almost a smile on this little face, almost features, it somehow felt like a gem, a thing from another world, the entire thing was almost a cubic centimeter in size. It was just there. There was no clue on how it came into my bed. It took a while until I found the other pieces. The body was on the floor, in parts. All greenish, bluish, shiny. Quite beautiful really. Pretty long. The wings were closest to the window. They were just beautiful. I put everything onto a white sheet of paper. There she was in front of me. One of the many New York Dragonflies. These huge insects that live around here, predators, incredibly skilled pilots, fast, beautiful, in many sizes, colors, shapes. Mine was now in pieces. It was there in front of me. All of the pieces came from my bedroom. Why were they there? What had happened? I can not be sure, I can only speculate. I thought for quite some time that maybe the dragonfly had made it onto my bedroom, past the gates that were so impenetrable for humans. She might have been chased by a hungry bird. My original theory was that the dragonfly made a mistake when escaping. I now think that the insect never entered the room in one piece. She just fell apart trying to come in. The maneuver was too difficult, the speed must have been tremendous. The parts must have just burst into the room. It was a very quick death for the beautiful animal. Just a split second, a blink of an eye.
I kept the wings the longest. The were large, looked so fragile, but were quite strong. I kept them in a little envelope I had made for them. I think they are lost now. Or maybe the envelope is here somewhere, part of the “permanent collection”? I had two sets of dragonfly wings in Germany. My friend Robert brought them once with a full collection of books and objects.
I now live in an apartment with large integrated air conditioners in all rooms. (I use them wisely.) The windows face Broadway now, there is no terrace. No insect can enter this apartment. There are strong mosquito nets in the windows I tend to open. Sometimes an insect will land on the net and rest. So far there was no Dragonfly.

1 Comment

this comment is a reminder...
there is a fantastic story about a dragonfly on you have to link to it!...

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This page contains a single entry by Witold published on June 22, 2002 11:27 PM.

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