I Believe in the New York Times Crossword Puzzle
The New York Times crossword puzzle may seem like an odd touchstone of belief. But consider my situation. My boyfriend Evan and I live on opposite coasts and have been doing the bi-coastal thing for more than six years with no end in sight. Every night we talk on the phone. And while our conversations are always filled with the events of the day, major and minor, and of course our feelings for each other, that nightly discourse centers on the joint completion of the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Through that activity, we feel we’ve come to know Mel Ott and Bobby Orr. Brian Eno and Yma Sumac. In fact, we fancifully imagine there is an island inhabited by the crossword puzzle perennials. An island where they consume poi and read odes. We recognize the styles of various New York Times puzzle constructors. There are those we love and those we love a bit less.
But more than anything else, the reason for my belief in the New York Times crossword puzzle is its ability to allow my mind and Evan’s to meet across miles of space and a three hour time difference. Our thoughts touch, intertwine and dance as we work out the answers. Solving the puzzle, requires us to depend on each other. To cooperate. To be patient. We take leaps of faith together and ultimately we cheer our triumphs and lament our failures. We set milestones for our endeavors. Monday and Tuesday need to add up to less than twenty minutes. The entire week (not including Sunday) is a success if completed in less than 100 minutes. We move through the week from easy Monday to diabolically difficult Saturday and there is always something to anticipate and enjoy. In fact, it’s a lot like real life.
There are moments of intellectual and linguistic prowess. And there are moments of transcendent humor, typically the result of one wrong answer that leads to another. The laughter we share in those moments is as rich and genuine as a cross-country hug.
And after all, how many things can you start fresh every day, regardless of what came before? How many activities offer the unalloyed pleasure of discovering anew how clever the one you love truly is? Bicoastal or otherwise, it’s the perfect way to carve out time that isn’t tied to a real world purpose and fraught with the expectations of same. So I will continue to believe in the New York Times crossword puzzle and its ability to erase distance and bind us together. It’s a twenty-seven letter word for romance.
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