My cheeks are windburned. I’ve only had windburn once before, almost exactly 16 years ago when Christo and Jeanne-Claude unveiled The Gates in Central Park. (It’s worth it to click over to the Christo page and look at the concept drawings.) On that day — February 12, 2005 — I’d gotten up early and taken the F to the C and ridden the C from Brooklyn to 72nd Street in Manhattan, strolled into the park and set myself up near one set of gates. I was early because I wanted to be sure I’d be there when the first of the gates were unfurled.
When Christo and Jeanne-Claude began to walk through the park, there was some buzz running through the crowd that had gathered, the idea that people in the audience would be allowed to open gates, too. That made me even happier to have shown up early. My position in the front row of the crowd couldn’t guarantee that I’d get chosen, but it seemed that it must give me a better chance.
The first gate was opened to lots of cheers and applause and then — yes! — people from the crowd were getting to pull open gates. I staked out my claim on the gate nearest to me, trusted a stranger with my camera, and had the fun of being part of a Christo installation:
And right after I brought my gate down, it was determined that people shouldn’t be allowed to open the gates because someone could be hurt and then surely litigation would ensue, so all of the other people waiting their turns had their hopes dashed. (Also? This is a rare bit of photographic documentation of my beloved black velvet coat. I wore that thing into the ground! I think it’s time to start I acquired another …)
I’d never been a Christo fan. None of his installations had ever resonated with me. Something about The Gates, though, really struck me. Maybe it was the vibrant color set off against the winter greys and browns of the park, or the way the fabric flowed in the breeze, or the wave pattern of the gates as they moved through pathways of the park. I don’t know, but I loved it. I spent hours in the park, walking and smiling and just really being happy to be part of it. As I made my way out at 72nd Street, one of the installation staffers was near the entrance handing out pieces of the gate fabric:
The next day, my face was killing me. My skin felt as if it was on fire. The concept of windburn had never occurred to me before. I’m not even sure I’d ever even heard of it. I had my writers group that night, and mentioned how much pain I was having, and the woman whose house we were meeting in diagnosed my condition and gave me a tube of Weleda Skin Food. That stuff definitely saved me.
I wasn’t standing out in the park for hours this week. Or anywhere else, really. I was outside for maybe 25 minutes Thursday night. And it was cold and super windy. But am I so delicate that such brief exposure burns my face now? I mean, I guess so. The apples of my cheeks are stinging, and the skin feels rough and raw. Happily, I have my own tube of Skin Food. And a tube of Aquaphor. Between the two of them, baby-soft skin should be mine again in no time.
It’s the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!