I am sitting in my office looking at pictures of Marilyn Monroe. They are all from a calendar. I have three reproduced photographs of her hanging on the wall behind my desk: Marilyn in a black turtle-neck leaning back, propped against something I cannot see; Marilyn in a black, lacy shirt with her head supported by her hand; and Marilyn in a sequined, nearly strapless gown, walking across the stage at a USO show. My favorite part of this last picture is the soldier who is standing right by the stage, holding his hat in his hand, and looking up with his hand on the side of his face, and I think he has never seen a woman before. I also have a black and white picture of her Hollywood Star. It’s bittersweet. I wonder. Would she still be famous if she lived today?
I look to my left and I see photographs I have taken: some pictures of Bec and I dancing at her sister’s wedding, the dead ray I saw on Venice Beach that floats endlessly in a sea of sand with a drinking-straw forever suspended next to him, the ocean with its breaking waves and the foothills I have climbed in the background, the raven that sits on the rock outside the rest stop in the middle of the Mojave desert, miscellaneous pictures of Merideth and I, and the statue of Jesus with his face in his hand, weeping over the atrocities that humans inflict on each other. I ask myself, “Why do we kill each other?” I took that picture in Oklahoma City. Right outside the memorial for the bombing. “And Jesus Wept” is the title of the sculpture. I think “And Jesus Wept” for Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. He weeps for us, too.
If I look to my right, I see Rachel’s desk. Neat, tidy. When I turn my head, I see what my students see when they enter our office: Rachel’s posters. They are an original Salvador Dali, which is the one with the long-legged elephant, a lithograph; a Picasso poster, the one from his blue period where the contorted man is playing the guitar; an old PCM advertisement; four little posters—a Matisse, a Kandinsky, a Klimt, and a Warhol that says, “the world fascinates me”—it fascinates me, too, Mr. Warhol, Andy; a bumper-sticker that says Bi-American; a magazine cover with a picture of her grandfather, who was an actor, sitting in the middle of a pile of wood holding an axe and a handful of feathers; and, a poster of two women kissing, called the “Kiss” by Tanya Chalkin. If you were to come to my office, this is what you would see.
I sit here, now, drinking from a ceramic New York deli cup that is made to look like the ones they drink from on Law and Order: SVU. I am drinking Genmaiche tea with honey in it. I would say I am happy today.