I’m back from NYC, where
seldom often occasionally is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are sometimes cloudy all day. (And the humidity was brutal.) Almost everyone I saw, ate with, played music with, or hung out with, has money problems. If they have kids, they have kid problems. If they have real estate, they have real estate problems.
Yes, yes, how could it be otherwise? Still, there was a noteworthy sense of the unprecedented about it all: the travails were familiar, the categories of concern were the usual ones, but every discussion featured a sub-text, if not a text, of the ominous.
The point was not merely that this or that job was about to end or had not come through; the point was also that entire fields, and therefore careers, were in jeopardy. The point was no longer that one didn’t know what to advise one’s child about what major to choose in college; one now didn’t know what to advise any kid about what to pursue in any college (or even about going to college at all), to prepare for a future that seems more than traditionally hazy.
News about health inevitably segued into head-shaking discussions about medical bills. A conversation about publishing morphed into a conversation about Publishing. A chat about layoffs in a single institution led smoothly and sensibly into an apocalyptic assessment of the future and very existence of the middle class.
Nonetheless, it was fun! Nobody was other than their familiar upbeat and snappy self, for whom humor and a sort of free-floating optimism are essential aspects of personality. No one seemed particularly crushed by or detached from what we all laughingly agree to call “reality.” No one said other than ”yes,” or at least “yes, in a minute,” t0 Life.
Or so everyone was in my presence, suggesting either that I have an unusually healthy/delusional cadre of friends, or everyone had pre-arranged with each other–never mind how; via Facebook or mental telepathy or something–to spare my feelings and put on a good show for the visitor in from L.A., the poor dear.
In either case: thanks, guys. It worked!