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June 21st, 2010

I Want To Be Remembered Forever

My name is Jonathan and I want to be remembered forever.

I only recently learned this.

I was 15, I was to have surgery. I was on the gurney, being wheeled down the hall. Light by light went by on the ceiling, just like they do on TV. There were giant candy canes lining the hallway too. I couldn’t see anyones faces and no one was talking to me. I got wheeled into the operating room and asked to shift onto the table. I lied down, stared at the operating lights and wondered what the pain would feel like.

A nurse stood over me and put a mask on me, but it was not like her mask. She had a mask, a head cap and was covered in that blue green that only operating rooms have. I stared at her eyes as she said things to me, I don’t really remember hearing what she said, only that her voice was nice and there was a kindness behind it.

I looked up at her, I told her, “Your eyes are beautiful.” Then I blinked mine and saw there was now a cast on my leg and I was in a room all alone, the surgery was over.

Then 21 years went by.

It was my almost last night living in New York City.

I wanted love, I didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want to be forgotten or let go.

I asked an old love to see me and to my surprise, she did. She invited me to a party that just before I went in, I almost didn’t, for almost an hour. I stood outside, I looked at myself and I looked at the trees.

The party was behind the Guggenheim, I stared at it too.

I didn’t want to be here but I didn’t want to leave. The old love was not to be new again, but allowed me to see that I had been more to her then I ever knew. She kissed me, she dared me, she bet me, she insulted me and then she told me to go forth and she did all this without fully letting me go, or so it felt.

I found myself on a private roof in Manhattan overlooking the skylight of the Guggenheim. I didn’t know what it was then, but would later learn that a collective of animals was shining it’s noise all over the inside. I pretended those green blue lights shining from below were just for me. These lights were my gift on this night.

I turned around and saw a woman in a chair I did not know. I didn’t know her name yet, but I wanted to. She had on a hat that matched her skin, a dark coat and all around us there was a light, soft, white snow in the air.

She started the conversation. She asked me about my cameras. She told me she was a nurse. I told her my story of surgery so long ago and what I had told that other nurse about her eyes just before I had passed out.

She looked at me and said,
“My God, if you had said that to me in a moment like that, I would remember you forever.”

I asked her to stand up. I asked her to take a sip from her glass. I asked her to allow me to photograph her and to all this she did agree. In the soft snow, in the lights of collected animals behind us bouncing upwards from that spiral, I made a few photographs of her just as I had requested.

She asked why I wanted this. I told her that her hat reminded me of a scrub cover, that her coat would fade to the black behind her and that the glass would block her face from the eyes down, just like an operating room mask would.

I told her,
“Now I’ll remember you forever.”

I didn’t tell her that I thought her eyes were beautiful too, well, until just now.

– – –

It was my almost last night in New York City. A night like this can only happen here and this night was only beginning. I have met an oddly high number of nurses this spring. This nurse, peeking at me over her glass, she is the only one that has made me feel better when I otherwise had not been well.

– – –

I miss that City of New York.