I had planned to end up here, in an eye-level niche containing a sorabji.com coffee mug, a hand-written note from myself, and a wood box I built as a grade-schooler. That box contains pictures of, letters from, and favored ephemera of every woman I ever loved, going back to the 8th grade rejection letter from Susan.
Turns out I don’t like the new mausoleum much, and would not be excited about my ashes moldering away in this space. It feels like a shopping center. St. Mary’s opened around the time the pandemic kicked in, and the cemetery was closed to the public for some time on account of that. Many of these interments could well be Covid-19 related, as at Calvary’s Covid Corner.
I discussed the matter of spending eternity at St. Michael’s, in person, with a sales rep at the cemetery. At the time of our consultation last year this new mausoleum was still under construction. With no inventory available at the other mausoleæ, and with my desire to spend eternity in Astoria, it was decided we would wait for niches to become available once St. Mary’s opened.
It finally did open, but I never heard back from that sales rep. In the meantime I had changed my mind about the columbarium niche, favoring instead a burial at sea, preëmptively romanticizing it as a great equalizer, a means of disposal used by prince and pauper alike. I would rather feed the sharks of the ocean than the sharks of the New York City cemetery business.
But those romantical notions fell apart when I discovered how the death business found ways to make burials at sea more expensive than in-ground and cremation combined.
I decided, instead, to make no plans at all. Let me be buried at Potter’s Field. Let them flush me down the toilet. Let me make my own decisions and tie a cinder block to my leg and jump to eternal rot in the East River.
I went from wanting to be no one’s responsibility once I’m gone to being everyone’s problem, an occupant of the public domain of death.
I don’t know where I am now. It is not at the St. Mary’s Mausoleum/Columbarium at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Astoria. Not yet.