Cass Sunstein and I were on the outs.
It was me, not him. I enjoyed our time spent pouring through the history of FDR’s administration; our heated disagreements about FDR’s fallibility points. Despite the joy of learning about FDR through the words of Cass in his book The Second Bill of Rights , I began to wander: I was courted by others like Naipaul; I began to pick at Cass’s words that at one time had brought such joy. When confronted with sentences that analyzed FDR such as, “this sentence immediately connected the war against tyranny with the effort to combat economic distress and uncertainty” (11), I grew distant.Fueled by guilt from ignoring Cass and my lackluster attitude, I brought him on the bus one day. It was a dumb idea I know; as dumb as having another child to save a conclusively unsavable relationship. Both parties know the baby won’t save a damn thing but will fuel more anger and, inversely, years later, fuel an economy driven by a nation that has relinquished the stigma of seeing a therapist. I knew very well that Cass was not suited for the bus: his messages were involved and required concentration–yet not a ton of brain prowess, so you can see why I was confused. The reading was slow: there were names to keep track of, dates, places, events to contextualize, inspiring quotes to write down and later drop in conversations with friends to wax historically hip.
As in having a baby to save a relationship, Cass and I did see a second honeymoon phase.
Before the bus, after a time I had ceased writing page numbers corresponding to important events I wanted to research later; I scrutinized quotes closely to determine if they were indeed worthy of copying in long hand—in fact, gradually with each slow page turn, quotes stopped qualifying at all. Refreshingly, my original process of maintaining a close relationship with Cass was renewed on the bus and I, like the many people before me, began to think having that baby really was the panacea for saving what I had, clearly misdiagnosed as an unsavable relationship. Desiring to show Cass attention and snuggled in the cultural capital snobbery of knowing what I was reading ran laps around what my fellow bus riders were reading, I put up a great fight to ensure I was able to continue to write down apt ideas, to ponder the vision Cass laid before me about FDR.
But, reality hits hard. I was on the bus.
Most mornings I literally caught the bus. I would run down Forbes Avenue with about three bags flapping in the wind, and a [full] mug of coffee without a lid. Once I got on the bus, the hunt for my wallet ensued for about a minute. I then turned to face that hard reality of catching the bus during a morning commute: no seats for Cass and I to sit to wrap ourselves in a FDR cocoon, people looking up from their cell phones long enough to glare at my open container, people sleeping with their mouths open. The laws of physics caused my writing to stop, staring out the window or observing people on the bus in front of me to see if they would get up for the elderly, or listening to one-sided unrequited love conversations, “baby, no. No. I told you…no…she’s just…no,” or, more recently simply reading something else like The New York Times superseded Cass;
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Actually, time itself is neutral.” Cass—back in my bed—and I have a mutual understanding: I do what I want and I tell myself MLK says time is neutral so I shouldn’t feel guilt about not reading Cass. Despite my failings, we’ve made some progress. I look back at all of our memories together. So many things happen each day, and when I reflect on those happenings, I can say, “I was reading Cass at that time,” and when I think about the future, I [still] feel like my relationship with Cass is one that will never end.