The Gates

I read an article in The New Yorker over a year ago about the works of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. How odd. They do things in public spaces with fabric. At the time, their upcoming project was The Gates, a series of 7500 saffron flags in Central Park, due to “open” in February 2005. “I think I’ll go to that,” I mused.

It opened this past weekend. Saturday morning, just off the red-eye, we found ourselves walking through Central Park, strolling under Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s saffron gates, relishing the random rays of sun that sliced through dreary skies. I’m not sure if it was meant to represent anything, but it worked. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people, New Yorkers and tourists together, descended upon Central Park. No one seemed to mind the crispness, the cold that confronted them. People were pleasant, smiled greetings to one another, engaged in polite small talk, talked about “the art.”

I attempted photographs. Each one disappointed. How to capture the majestic feeling? The treasure of being outdoors on a beautiful day? The glory of being awash in a wondrously happy color on a dreary day? The connection to the multitudes with a similar mission, to enjoy something without a stated purpose? I laughed as I tucked my camera back into my purse. I knew that my attempts to capture the moment, either in words or in graphics, were in vain. I looked around, then focused on one flutter of one flag of one gate. I snapshotted the feeling inside me, one of pure happiness, of being at the exact place, with the exact person, doing the exact thing I wanted to do.

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