The Egyptian Part Two
The Egyptian was right of course. The wise and kind and wonderful woman knew just what I needed. She had somebody she wanted me to meet. And she knew that when I did that everything would change. My life would turn around in the space of a few seconds.
I fell in love.
As I’ve already said, writing about love is like taking the pin out of a hand grenade and not throwing it. I don’t usually touch love. That’s why we have the romantic poets. They did all the heavy lifting, and I for one am grateful. I’m neither romantic, nor a poet.
I couldn’t have come up with the darling buds of May if my hair was on fire.
Also, most of us know what love is like. You don’t need me to tell you. Requited or unrequited it’s the same deal: you feel life’s possibilities more intensely. You feel recharged and reborn. You feel like you belong to your life and are not just a spectator.
It’s nice, that feeling. That’s why we lust after it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before I talk about my new love, I want to talk about my old love; New York City. Yesterday she was trying especially hard to please. She has even recently created bike share, just because she knew that I would like it. So yesterday I arose early, claimed my rented bike and rode over the Manhattan Bridge and down to the East River waterfront where I made my way to Battery Park City to meet the Egyptian and her friends. It was a clear, hot beautiful day. The harbor was stunning. The Brooklyn Bridge was stunning. The Staten Island ferry, the Statue of Liberty, you get the picture; New York was saying ‘take that, bitches’ to anybody who cared to listen.
The Egyptian and her friends have created what they call Bee Village in Battery Park. They have six hives, which they’ve decorated in the manner or the earliest colonizers. Wee Dutch houses for the bees. With gables and shingle roofs and suchlike. They’re painted in primrose and pink. You have to trust me when I say it’s beyond adorable.
We went to the storage area and claimed our gear—bee keeping suits, smokers (to calm the bees when the hives are opened) and gloves. I asked the Egyptian about the banana ban and she said bananas confuse bees because they smell the same as the Queen bee’s pheromones.
Fair enough. Bees are clever little buggers, but they can’t know everything.
We carried out gear over to where the bees live and suited up.
Some people are afraid of bees, but I’m not. My father was obsessed with bees and used to lecture me extensively about their habits. Even as a small child I knew that bees only sting as a last resort, for the simple reason that a bee has to choose between stinging and living.
So we’re standing in the park and I’m zipping up my suit. It’s hotter than hell and sweat is pouring off me. I’m fully clothed and wearing a bee suit, hat and veil. And tight rubber gloves. And the bees are buzzing around us. Some are flying, some are toiling away in the hives and a lot are clinging to the outsides. One of the Egyptian’s bee colleagues, a calm good humored man who used to race Formula One cars, told me that the bees on the outside are fanning their wings to regulate the temperature in the hive. They keep it at about 90 degrees. They do this year round.
Then the Formula One racer opened the first hive. And that’s when it happened.
I fell in love.
I just stood there, stunned. Staring at the bees. It was one of the most beautiful, compelling, magnetic things I’ve ever seen. I felt as if my life had opened up in some subtle yet profound way.
Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Everest, Knight of the Garter, philanthropist and diplomat, used to, whenever he had to describe his occupation, say ‘beekeeper’. I used to think he was being modest.
He was being proud.
Beekeeping is some noble fucking shit. The hours that I spent with my friends and the bees were among the happiest of the past year.
I’ll shut up now about bees. Except to say get yourself to a hive and look at them and then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Oh, and as far as the man the Egyptian wanted me to meet? She was right about him too, in a way. I found out that he’s Armenian and he was raised in Lebanon. Clever, well read, well traveled, multi lingual. I liked him enormously. I like meeting people from other cultures and finding out who their writers and historians are. I got a number of book suggestions from him and went home and downloaded them. And felt very grateful to him when I saw that he had excellent taste and the writing was thrilling.
And the next morning, energized and still euphoric from my bee encounter, I got up and went to the community garden and pottered around for an hour or so.
I wanted to make sure that if some bees were to chance by, they would have everything they needed.