Forever for a While

I’m out on the sidewalk in front of the Turkish vegetable market in the Susannenstrasse in Hamburg, bending over for a closer look at a crate of figs. It’s mid-January, late afternoon, cold and gray. In another hour it will be dark. The figs are green and purple and coated with a fine gray fuzz. It’s the fine gray fuzz that has my attention, conveying as it does a climate much more benign than Hamburg, Germany, now deep in the throes of winter. The fuzz looks incredibly soft and fragile, summery and gentle, and above all, transitory. It’s more like a state of mind than a state of being.

Being. That’s what I’m thinking about as I go inside to pay for the eggplants, shitake mushrooms, red chilies and figs that I’ve chosen. Being as a context in which everything is located, be it forever or even for a while. The young Turkish girl at the cash register is beautiful. Beautiful enough to be a model, or a movie star, or a pop star. But she’s just the cashier in a Turkish vegetable market where I happen to be shopping and that makes her all the more beautiful.

Beauty and fig-fuzz. That’s what I’m thinking about as I step outside and turn up the Susannenstrasse, flipping up my collar against an icy wind that must be blowing down the Elbe from somewhere in the frosty northeast. Beauty and fig-fuzz. Two concepts√ɬ≥one abstract, one concrete√ɬ≥but both ultimately finite. And it’s the finite that’s doomed to disappear, while the infinite neither comes nor goes.

Coming and going. That’s what I’m thinking about going up the street with the Siberian wind at my back, in a state of mind more infinite than finite, taking everything in yet keeping nothing for itself, here and now and everywhere at once, forever and for a while, transitory as fine gray fig-fuzz, evanescent and everlasting as the cashier’s beautifully carved face.

February 21st, 2005 by