Travel and Time: The Fairy


Time travel is as simple as gazing at a child who shares your DNA.

December 18th

5:30 p.m. – JFK

I am on my forty-fifth hour of no real sleep waiting for the plane to land. The trophy moon in the middle of black sky is a conflagration of hope in the midst of uncertainty. Uncertainty is cold and vast, and the trophy is hard won. This is more apropos for a seeker of symbols such as I, than say, sunny days that compel birds to chirp. I am the Queen of Swords, or so I’m told by those who display spreads of tarot in my name, and pull the card repeatedly. Swords represent conflict and action. The Queen of Swords is independent, solitary, and rules with fierce intellect. Not particularly full of sunny cheer.

What do I think of all this?

There’s always fun and intrigue in letting your subconscious interpret imagery. It also happens that your subconscious is often your best guide — even when someone else is doing the “reading.” They tell you their version, you filter it to fit your circumstances. Ten people can hear the same poem and color it with ten completely different moods. The inner self applies the meanings it needs for a sort of self-therapy. Being human is a constant state of healing, regeneration, and growth.

Having said that, it’d be really nice for all my tarot-reading friends to start pulling coin cards (pentacles) for me, which tend to represent material gain, instead of every sword card in the deck! And the invariable Knight of Cups they keep turning up — that’s the same as the Jack of Hearts in a regular deck of cards, when you want the King of Hearts. Enough said.

Moving about my daily life, I take mental still images for my own personal symbology. My trophy moon tops the deck.

I’m nursing two wounds. One is a literal death, the other, figurative. The one who died is more alive to me than the one who is living. As actively as I remember S., I cleanse my memory banks of a different person. Any thought of him activates resentments like multiplying cells. The whys are unimportant in the same way that if there’s poison in your body, you purge the poison before worrying about who poisoned you.

My brain is a treadmill and the same thoughts keep trampling on it; I could use some healing.

I’m the very last person off the plane. The pilot at the exit is chatty and all smiles. I’m pretty sure he’s hinting to see if I would join him for a drink. Why else would he mention Hot Toddies?

I insist my brother wait out rush hour traffic before picking me up at the airport. I work on my computer until he arrives.

8 p.m. – Queensboro Bridge

As we cross the bridge to the city, I’m floored by the compact geometry of Manhattan’s skyline dotted with a million lit windows. The three-dimensional perspectives grow and shift as we drive. I ask my brother if this shocking beauty might be due to delirium on my part. Then I remember I still have on my glasses from looking at the trophy moon, so the Manhattan night has a special crispness instead of the usual haze with which I choose to view the world. I’m used to the soft edges of weak vision and use glasses only when I have to.

The apartment is on the eleventh floor, and after a long embrace with my sister-in-law, I walk to the living room window. It faces the frozen lake in Central Park. I’m compelled by the ever-changing mood of this lake, along with the sky above it and the trees around it, throughout the day and different times of the year. The lake glows white now. Tree branches are stark and bare; snow is scattered here and there.

Lake2     Lake1

M.‘s magical seven-year-old voice sounds from her bedroom. It’s bright and clear, and joy sprouts in me. She says she can’t fall asleep because she’s excited about her auntie. Her parents allow her ten minutes out of bed and she shows me all the changes in her room.

She has a new, big-girl loft bed, and beneath it, there are nooks and caddies for her crafts, books and treasure boxes. It’s just enough space for a tiny person to surround herself with a world of her choosing. But it’s also like a museum display from my own childhood. I’m enchanted. Time travel is as simple as gazing at a child who shares your DNA. She writes her nighttime dreams in a dream book. The name of her pet crab is Pinchy. She has a nature box, and in it she keeps leaves, shells and acorns. In another box, she has polished rocks and crystals. I think about when I moved to America at the age of nine, and I wonder if my dried-leaf collection is still stored in a metal container in Teheran somewhere.

I give her a pendant with a cartoon of an adorable little girl, telling her, “She looks just like you.” In the morning, I find it on the bathroom sink next to her toothbrush where she must have brought it after holding it all night while she slept.

Fairy Hour – Saturn Bubble Land

Each time I look into M.’s expressive, enormous eyes, I’m overcome with emotion. Her eyes are filled with kindness. She is inquisitive and charming. And happy. Her happiness makes me beam. She has an effect on people and sometimes strangers feel compelled to tell us so.

Every once in a while, she spontaneously runs up, collapses into my arms and melts right into me. In the midst of such hugs, nothing in the world could hurt my heart. I feel complete and without want. I’ve only ever felt this way with three people, and two of them are the children in my family. Sometimes I wonder if the real reason I don’t want kids of my own is because I’m afraid of loving another being quite so much in a dangerous world.

“I have angel power, I can turn the people I like into angels,” M. used to say. Angels, fairies, and magical powers still pervade her drawings and the games she makes up.

Once, I carried her while I ran through a green field near San Diego.

“This is a fun but scary adventure, those might be snake holes everywhere!” She squealed happily.

“Yes they might!” I played along. “You’ll be safe up here, but if I get bitten, you have to run back and get help.”

She leveled my chin with her little hand so we were eye-to-eye, and said: “That won’t be necessary. I’ll heal you myself with my magical abilities.” I thought, precious darling, and gave her a big smile. But she continued to look into my eyes quite seriously and I almost believed her.

I lugged a hard drive from Los Angeles that stores the most recent clip I directed. In it, the Tooth Fairy is enchanted by a sleeping child. I’m not quite finished editing it, but decide to show it to M.

“You’re the first to see this, outside of those who were there for the shoot. I’m dedicating the film to you when it’s done.”

She watches it twice and after, she asks, “How did you make that fairy!?” She is wonderstruck.

“That’s a pretty girlfriend of mine wearing a costume. I put effects on her in editing to make her wings glow and look like they’re moving.”

“Wow! Is this for fun or for work?” She asks. I chuckle; I’m stumped.

“Both,” I finally say.

“So is this your job?”

“Not exactly.”

She tilts her head slightly, eyeing me. In her smile there’s both puzzlement and acceptance. I can’t stop taking her in, her face, her eyes, her smile. It seems I’ve been hearing her say funny things and ask wise questions for much longer than seven years. I lose myself in her gaze, and a little part of me sees that she’s lost herself in mine. She holds open her arms and I hold open mine. She collapses into me and I rest my face on the warmth of her shoulder just as she rests her face against mine. The moment is an unbreakable bubble of eternity, and in it, I sit warm and unhurt.

“How am I ever going to be without you in Los Angeles?” I ask.

“Easy, just move back to New York,” she says with a shrug. I wish I could split in two, I think.

But then, I look at her and see that I already have.

Later, I ask her permission to use a passage from her dream book for my blog.

“Are your articles for fun or work?” She asks.

“This is an excellent question you keep asking me,” I say, and think for a moment. “Some things aren’t for either work or fun, but for meaning. Like your dream book. And sometimes, we do them because we want to find a way to have all three be the same thing — work that’s fun and meaningful.”

In answering her, I answer myself. She heals and guides; we are both separate and the same. And since there are no swords about her, there can’t be any about me. One chooses one’s own symbology.

As she watches me recreate an image of the trophy moon in fiery orange, she gives me her permission to use the dream book. I choose a passage she tells me she dreamt when she was “between five and six,” and ask her to read it to me:

In the night, M. couldn’t sleep so she went to discover Saturn because she knew that monkeys that are rainbow are called pookees. On the way, she sang a song called Look at the Sun. When she got there, it was playtime but she didn’t know where to look for Saturn Bubble Land. A piece of Saturn started shaking and came up and there were two pookees on M.’s head. One was pink and one was purple and their names were Leela and Laila. They all went to the pookee playground. There were diamonds and ladybugs. The ladybugs raced them. Then everyone got tired and they said their favorite color. M. chose rainbow. And they all ate soup. Then it was nap time. The bed was a bubble and they all slept.

I too, finally lay my head and rest. I am regenerated. (continued)


Cathartic Monkeyism

  • Guidance comes from everywhere, but the important part takes place between you and the liaison of your subconscious.
  • Some people actually dream about rainbows — you choose your own symbology.

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  1. mike · · Reply

    Wonderful as always. Are you sure you are not one of the muses from ancient Greece reborn?

    1. Ha, thanks! I’d rather have a muse than be a muse…

  2. I would choose rainbow too, so M and I have something in common!

    Your love for your niece shines through this piece. It’s precious to feel and precious to read about. I loved the bit where you wrote that her happiness makes you beam, and that strangers tell you she has that effect. It reminds me of a wonderful time with one of daughters, when a stranger saw us looking lovingly at each other and he beamed. It’s so nice when love spreads love.

    This was a sweet post, thank you for sharing it.

    1. I like how you put that: Love spreading love. I can’t think of too many things nicer. Thank you.

  3. She sounds absolutely wonderful. Don’t you wish that you could somehow preserve that magical world for her? Maybe she will preserve it herself. There is nothing better than nieces and nephews, nothing at all. There have been so many “dark” times where I want to stop believing in anything good but then I’m blown away by how much I can love them.

    1. You completely get it. I think she’ll preserve the magic for herself, I really do.

  4. Paul · · Reply

    Congratulations Gunmetal Geisha! You’ve finally found the cathartic monkeys – the pookees Leela and Laila. It took a trip to New York, a collaboration with your niece M., a guided trip to Saturn and the discovery of Saturn Bubble Land.

    Awesome writing. The reader gets pulled into the narrative with a sense of wonder. It’s like Mi Be said about Trophy – “…now I would like to read the whole book.” Every paragraph triggered ideas or memories in my mind. It is so real. For example, the windows in the high rises. It has always fascinated me that one can stand on the ground and look at the windows but cannot imagine what the view would be like from those same windows. And yet it is possible to look out the window and imagine the view of the person on the ground. It is a great metaphor for how we lowly humans compare to a higher intelligence.

    “The moment is an unbreakable bubble of eternity…” Amazing line – and such a true observation: that eternity can, in fact, be held within a moment of time during which all that ever was, all that is and all that ever will be is as one. And then the moment moves on.

    Anyway, all that to say I immensely enjoyed “The Fairy” and was delighted with your young niece’s perspective and her freedom to pursue her dreams. She has good DNA. Her parents must be very special.

    1. Hi Paul! Her parents are beyond exemplary, it never fails to astound me.

      I’m glad you recognized the pookees, and I can guarantee, M. will be pleased as well!

      As far as the “unbreakable bubble of eternity,” you should know that the concept is directly inspired by some of our recent dialogues (and / or monologues!) regarding the theory of relativity…

  5. This was a touching piece. This part really spoke to me: “Some things aren’t for either work or fun, but for meaning.”

    I never really thought about my blog/articles as being anything other than fun, but now that I’m thinking about it, maybe they are for meaning. Maybe I’m looking for more from each post. Maybe it’s something I’m looking for within, or something I’m looking for from my readers.Either way, maybe I am doing it for meaning and not for work or fun.

    That sentence was really thought-provoking for me.

    And now I want soup…;-)

    1. It’s so interesting to read your comment — we so often forget that fun and laughter have so much meaning, certainly in the role they play in our lives. All those moments you and I write about — they had some sort of meaning, made an impression, maybe even altered the course of things a little. I don’t want meaning and fun to be mutually exclusive. And I want soup too!

  6. a such a magical child. I’d like to see her dream book and nature boxes. Her question about work and fun is such a grown up question, which seems fitting. She sounds very mature. Beautifully written piece!

    1. She really is, all those things. The most astonishing aspect is how she can be so mature and yet see the world through those magical eyes. She has been working on wings. Giant, cardboard cutouts of her own design, complete with handles inside. She slips her arm through. On it, she has watercolor illustrations.

      1. Well, I’m not surprised she’s working on wings! I bet they’re marvelous. Handles, too? She thinks of everything.

  7. lrconsiderer · · Reply

    OHMIGOSH! M is absolutely, completely adorable. I can see why you love her so, so much. Wow. What a kid.

    And that way they protect you and keep you safe from everything – thank GOODNESS for that. Because Niece and Neff have saved me from more than I’ll probably ever tell them.

    This was wonderful to read. One of my favourites so far 🙂

    Aunty-ing FTW.


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