How much influence does it have?
Actually I have never thought about it up until today. It just so happens, that eight years ago my life changed in one second.
And in one single day we have 86400 of them.
It’s quite shocking to me to realize that during one day there is a possibility that my life could be changed 86400 times. WHOA!
Going back to this particular single second which changed my life then and keeps changing it today, I offer this story, written by the very person whose life changed in the same second as well,
…I had finished teaching for the week at NYU. I had three lectures that day and as usual after a day of teaching, one feels drained. Especially towards the end of the semester.
It was 4 pm and I had just enough time to hop on the 6 train and head up to either the MoMa or the Met. I had been to the MoMA very recently and wanted to make a more systematic survey of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts offerings. I dropped off my stuff, and headed for the train and made it through the door with about an hour to work with in the museum . A bit short of the ideal 1h 30 min visit, but great nonetheless.
As I retrieved my metal pin with a the letter M emblazoned upon it, I walked towards the main entrance. I then realized I had not decided exactly which period of the main collection I would focus on. My first impulse was to head to the Spanish collection. I had visited Spain multiple times, especially Madrid and was heading back there shortly for a conference. I thought this might be a good prep for the museum going I would undoubtedly engage in staying near the museum mile.
However, I also had a sudden draw towards the Dutch masters. So I found them on the map and headed up the grand staircase to the galleries…
I began to take interest in a few, just dabbling a bit in front of some earlier stuff, perhaps it was Frans Hals, maybe Hans Holbein, and gradually slowly started to move towards Melmling, then Vermeer and then out of the corner of my right eye I saw a woman approach and within a few steps/seconds she was walking past me and our eyes met and I kid you not, that was the single most intense moment of eye contact i have ever had in my life.
It was really, truly as if lightning had struck.
I felt it all the way through my body and we both smiled a small smile and she walked by. I knew immediately I would talk to her.
But museums for me had been something of a secular/sacred space. I no longer attend church but find the meditative experience of encountering great artists and their works to be sometimes a transcendent experience. Thus, i have never met a woman, or picked up on a woman , ever, in over fifteen years of intense museum going in NYC. Never.
But this, this was undeniable.
We were going in opposite directions in this particular gallery and we passed once again, going in different directions into another gallery and smiled again.
It was absolutely going to happen. It just was.
I decided to myself ‘well, I don’t want to keep following her around and make her think I am some sort of stalker. So, I will lose her for a minute and then catch up.’ Well, I left the gallery , was encoutnering some other works and then after some minutes, I returned to casually cross paths again and … I lost her.. I couldn’t spot her, I looked and looked and suddenly the announcement came on, ‘The Metropolitan Museum is now Closing… ‘ Oh no! What a fool… well, I will head to the lobby and wait and if she comes out behind me, i will talk to her. No. Matter. What.’
So I go the massive lobby of the Met and wait near the exit… I wait… begin to think she left before me and …voila, she starts to descend the grand staircase to the lobby floor… I turn towards the door and pretend to text someone on my phone, she pauses and stands at the other end of the lobby, from me.
I look, she sees me, I pocket my phone and walk some 50 m, though it seemed like 1000 across the lobby right up to her and said ‘Hi, are you here with anyone…’ She responded, ‘yes, I am’ to my first question… but in a way that was not off-putting and so I continued to ask her questions about where she was from , what she was doing in NYC , if she liked the exhibit, and with each question and answer I felt less scared about her husband or boyfriend coming to find us talking and beating me senseless.
I noticed that her English was not exactly fluent , and it was charming in a way, to just slow my own speech down and talk of basic things.
If you have never met or seen Marzena than it is hard to describe how striking her beauty is.
Her eyes are a kind of hazel, but not exactly and their color does not quite express the deep personality they are the the window to. Their beauty is only accentuated by two dots of mascara she mysteriously places on her face, one under each eye, directly symmetrical with her pupils. Her skin, especially in summer, is tan/olive and her high cheekbones and lips add to the mixture of features to give a kind of subtle exoticism.
Well , at least from my totally biased perspective. But this is confirmed whenever we go out in public. The admirers are many, and of all persuasions and genders. Anyway, the clincher is that with all of these sophisticated elements of classical beauty, she smiles. It’s devastating, Genghis Kahn-would-surrender-immeidately kind of stuff.
I asked her for her number and if she would like to meet up while she was in town on vacation. And she said yes. I left her (avoiding any potential third party interactions!) and called her later, arranging a time and place to meet.
She was late to our first date, which was fine, and we met at Veloce, a wine bar which has since gone downhill in the East Village. We worked on understanding each other, but with no anxiety (except a bit of natural first-date nervousness). And we covered a lot of topics from personality types to simple biographical stuff.
Even in her third language, English-which she has since become fluent in but was really not quite conversational at the time- I could sense the strength and force of her personality.
Her energy is infectious and our chemistry was pretty ridiculous.
But one senses almost immediately that the strength of her personality is matched by a will shaped by good intentions, that she has a good heart to go along with her charisma. The fact is, what we talked about didn’t really matter as much as how it felt to be sitting there in each others’ presence.
But much to my chagrin, she wouldn’t let me kiss her goodnight as we parted…..
Well, I do kiss him now <3
and…I am grateful for every second