But let me rewind to yesterday morning, when I was playing handball with my son at his schoolyard down the street. We heard sirens blaring outside the yard, sounds that don’t normally turn your head if you live in New York City; A firetruck, and ambulance, they pass by several times a day, sometimes a lot more. But these siren sounds seemed different, more sustained and concentrated. Something was happening on the street down from the schoolyard, but I didn’t see smoke or hear guns or shouting, so we continued to play and I forgot about them.
Later that day I walked past the old lady who sells her stuff on the street across from the back of the schoolyard. I spotted the cloche, a fine looking thick glass cover with a dark wooden stand and a brass knob on top. I was surprised to see such a nice piece among her usual assortment of junky items. I knew I wanted it for the Suitcase of Wonders, thinking that I could perhaps “animate” something underneath it, or failing that, simply use it to display a unique item. The old lady saw me eyeing the cloche and told me was fifty cents. I said, “Great. I’ll take it!” and handed her the money. She asked if I wanted a plastic bag for it, and I declined, telling her that I lived around the corner so I would just carry it.
When the old lady heard I was a neighborhood resident she asked if I had heard about what happened this morning. She said a man in her building (that she was sitting in front of), jumped from the fifth floor onto the sidewalk. That’s what all the sirens were about earlier. She said the man’s wife had just left him.
The shock of that news stayed with me as I walked home with the cloche. Most likely, I will always be reminded of that tragic incident when I look at that piece, never mind my walking past the building regularly and probably getting a chill. I briefly considered getting rid of the cloche because of that dark association, but after playing around with it for a while (testing out an animated skull - of all things! - underneath it, I decided to keep it for the Suitcase of Wonders. I know the episode will always be there, under the glass, a little reminder about life and how it can be taken, sometimes by our own hand.