I decided to save "Weight" to read on the airplane on my trip to New York City last week. I had glanced at the flap of the book before, and thought that reading the text while on the airplane might provide a unique experience for interpretation.
While Heracles was struggling and straining under the weight of Atlas' burden, I was flying through the air and feeling curiously weightless. While Atlas pondered the possibilities of setting the world down for a spell or two, I had done just that - set the world down on the ground and made a bee line for the sky. Moreover, I'd set my Ann Arbor world down for a time and taken off into the untapped possibility of NYC.
I imagined my plane wrapping around the knee of Atlas as Laika playfully swatted at the plane's tail. I loved being able to both read and feel the story like this, I'm not sure if the tale would have been as significant to me had I not read it while flying.
Thoughts about "Weight" kept coming to me as I moved throughout NYC. Having never been there before, I realized my expectations about the city were far from realistic. Unknowingly, I'd been hanging on to an image of the New York Frank Sinatra danced down in "On the Town," the New York of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and the New York of black unitard wearing beatniks and the New York of Coca Cola ads where men wore sharp hats and women waved hands covered in crisp, white gloves.
After trying to explain this to a friend, he told me I'd been watching too much Mad Men.
The possible truth to that accusation aside, my I realized my expectation of NYC had been a myth. I don't mean this in a disheartened sense, merely a practical one. The mental image of NYC I had been visiting since I was old enough to sing along with Frank Sinatra and dance along with Ginger Rogers was an amalgam of everything I had seen or heard about NYC and wished to be true. I had literally re-written the myth, the concept, the possibility of NYC all without meaning to.