I can still remember what it was like, sitting on the edge of the infinite with my feet dangling over the sides. They asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this, and at the time I thought I was. I really did. Looking down from that other place, I liked what I saw. I thought it looked like a good time. A laugh, maybe. Some wild nights, a little heartache here and there. Food for the soul. I wasn’t expecting this. You’ve got to believe me, I never thought it was gonna be like this…
Happy Sunday morning to you, you lucky citizens of blood orange townships, you generous residents of maple and brown sugar oatmeal counties, you dwellers in kingdoms of proper English breakfasts, you fortunate peoples of omelette nations bursting with spicy sausage and pepper jack cheese. My present GNP is charcoal and burning incense from Holland, fresh pressed coffee leftover from a trip to Alaska, and the books I forgot I owned, now assembled in a fresh pile on the shelf. There is music rolling out of the speakers from across the room, the smoke of sound wafting across the bamboo floor, nursing mind sparks into ideas and promoting them further into cheerful flames.
Welcome to the long dark teatime of the soul as one author so brilliantly put it. I’ve got my back to the wall on the Couchwork Orange with a good pen in one hand, a new notebook on my lap, and a can of red beans warming up on the stove. I’m listening to old Leonard Cohen albums and hoping beyond hope that the Universe is still offering discounts for good deeds. Just one more go around for old times sake. Alas, I feel my luck is running thin.
I’ve been so hungry lately. I find myself missing the food of Brooklyn. It’s a foodlovers paradise. Any thing you want, at any time you want it. Cuban sandwiches at 11 p.m.? Coming right up! A gourmet burger on the way home from work? I know just the place! Sunday morning munchies got you craving an Indian curry? “Three blocks away, my friend! Very good, okay you want naan? Okay, very good, thank you! Thirty-five minute!” And don’t get me started on the halal carts, the bagel shops, the DIY salad shops and smoothie carts.
(Let us never forget to feed our bellies, our minds, and our eyes: art school girls on the Friday night L, buskers on the platforms, whack jobs in the park screaming up at the gods only they can hear while swatting out at the devils they can’t forget, and the Hasidic herds dressed like gunfighters converging on the backs of dried palms.)
All my heroes are dead and dying. The past is dissolving before me like a sand castle on a darkstar Sunday morning; once proud towers of prowess and eternal youth sliding back into the marching sea against the backdrop of fresh ocean air. “Nothing lasts forever except nothing and forever.” If you forget everything else I’ve ever said, please, remember that I said that first.
A few days later, another airport, another city, waiting, sitting and watching the numbers stroll by: the heights, the weights, the colors, the socio-eco-politico-somethings-or-other, the emotions, the textures, the broad spectrum analysis captured in this moving microcosm.
Slow the mind, concentrate on each stroke of the pen. This letter, that word, this sentence, that paragraph. Nourish the fire, allow it to grow, to mean something. Imagine what it would be like to be the man from everyone’s past; visible for an instant on the evening news, captured in the background of a family photograph, the face found peering in from the edge of the liner notes of an album readily found on every shelf and, as decades pass, in every pocket. Everybody knows about you but no one can exactly Google why.
Dear 9-year-old me. Please know that there will be dark nights, but sometimes when the lightning flashes you will catch sight of yourself through the trees. Try to remember that this is not the end. There is no end. This is not the beginning, nor the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning. You’re on the right path. Your doubts are my doubts. My doubts are everyone’s doubts. Our combined doubts are available for checkout from the local library. These fragments of insight are the secret to your survival, your painting of Dorian Grey. Don’t be afraid. Everything must change. This is both a warning and an explanation. The sky must change. The mountains must change. All must evolve of their own accord; all things are always moving toward their end. Remember to look for the infinite. Spend time looking up. This must be your motto, just as you’ve adopted saying “not yet” instead of “no”.
I still think about her every day. I think about the magic of her laugh, her wild eyes, her ever curious mind; how no one can ever take her place, how there is only one of her, and how everything I’ve ever wanted hinges on a declaration of affection that will never come. The radio is busted. The crystals are shot. The transmission will never be received. Maybe that’s a good thing. Take it as a warning. There’s a danger in holding onto those old reels, getting too close to the lamp and burning the celluloid, marring it, disfiguring it, contorting it closer to your confirmation bias. Avoid lining your nest with memories. They will only keep you warm for a short time.
You will never meet the great loves of your life again, this I can assure you. You loved the right women in the right place at the right time, but if any of those loves were meant to last, they would have. Instead you find yourself on the shore watching them float away one by one through the fog. Don’t take it so hard. Try to remember that you’re an acquired taste, and that there’s not a lot of people attuned to your frequency.
Keep moving. You must flee from the wall of depression that bears down upon you like a counterfire in a cane field, driving you toward certain doom.
All I want, all I’ve ever wanted, aside from having someone meet me at the airport, is to know that when I take that leap of faith from the high cliff out into the darkness, that when it matters most, that when everything is on the line, my heart in my throat, arms flailing, legs churning, I’ll catch the hands of someone who believes in me.