Today was the last day that The Awakening will see the sunrise at Hains Point. I cannot imagine a more fitting place for this statue: at the end of a flat peninsula, barely reaching up from the dirt. So lonely, so poetic, so iconic. So I’m disappointed that it is leaving, sure. But what right do I have to be indignant, since it has been on loan from the artist for over 20 years, and since this very peninsula is itself a development, having been created where the river used to flow?
So, much as I might resent his new owner warming himself over there in his Porsche SUV, he has every right to do that, has every right to hear about a statue that is for sale and to buy it that very same week to adorn his glorified shopping mall. And if he wants to parlay its move into a media event, and insist that it be placed on a fake sand beach, so be it. Who am I to speak?
On the other hand, there’ll be a children’s museum there at the new site, which is nice. And even those frigid PR people with clipboards controlling entry and information have a right to a living. So, too, for the construction crew and the TV People With Big Smiles, and even the Park Service workers who keep driving their empty trucks back and forth across the grass. Most notably, my good friend who works as a consultant for the honorable Mr. Peterson, who assures me that it is a pleasure to do so, that he pays all of his bills on time, and that he cares deeply for the community. Deep down, I know that this is just progress, in all of its ubiquity.
So I guess I’m stuck between cynicism at such crass commercialism and a reluctant acceptance of the way the world works. My attachment to this statue in this space is overly emotional, I know. Much as I wanted to bring my son to this place where I gained some inkling at his endurance, some sense of his struggle, I can’t do that, anyway. In the end, what’s probably more important than the photos I took or my chance to vent to a reporter from The Post is the simple fact that I made three trips around Hains Point while my friend was being dismembered and strapped to three trucks.
Thanks, Awakening, for all you’ve taught me about myself. Thanks for giving me hope when it felt like I was dying. Thanks for simply being here. You will be missed.