michael's communiqué #13|
There were wires all over my living room as Darren set up a microphone. Sun was streaming through the window, and I was sipping a Diet Pepsi hoping that it would rejuvenate a voice raspy from shouting at Jarvis Cocker.
I came home late last night from a disco called "Mis-shapes" that is housed in an old lesbian bar turned rich-kid catwalk. I had a solid dose of 'late night thinking' during a long walk to the subway at the break of morning. The apartment was quiet when I finally arrived, and I flipped on the TV to keep me company and drown out the ringing in my ears. An old episode of Saturday Night Live with Al Franken in self help/cardigan mode came on. I ate the tacos I grabbed from the taqueria on wheels which parks itself at the base of the 52nd street station until dawn on the weekends.
The last few years I have moved around quite a bit, like a small time crook in the witness protection program. It's depressing when the crime you're trying to out run is your own life. I moved from a haunted mansion on Long Island, to a series of small room in other people's lives in Queens. The whole time, all I wanted was to unpack my books.
But this particular set of rooms, off Skillman Avenue, with faux British wallpaper in the hall, and The Blue Bathroom, was mine. It had been for the whole of a summer spent without a day at the beach. I had tried to make it a home with someone else, but now she's gone, and it's just me and my books. I think about Saint Joan, and her book "By Herself, Her Witness". Perhaps it is time to testify. It's hard to make a home with someone else if you've never made one for yourself. I plead guilty your honor, and throw myself on the mercy of the court. Your reputation is a merciful one.
I think a part of me liked the small, dim rooms I had taken years before. Life On The Inside. The Holding Cell. That's easy street.
It's Life On The Outside that's hard. Getting things done with the roof off. Under the stars and Dr. Eckleburg eyes. You've got a lot of space to fill.
Gazing around my sparsely appointed living room at 5am, with the test screen on the TV and an empty takeout bag as a centerpiece, it seemed again like a room in someone else's life, perhaps as the Future Bible Heroes song goes,"The You You Never Knew". I want to know him. Sit him down and give him some good advice. Go to sleep.
The world looks better in the daylight. With all these wires trying to connect everything. I'm about to sing a song I've written, standing in my own living room with my friends around me. Gilbert is watching football with the sound off. Andrea is sitting on the floor waiting for her turn on the microphone. Darren is wiping sweat from his brow, as he intently studies a waveform on the screen. The lyric I sing goes "The road to hell is paved, with the souls that he has saved by taking their music away."
I didn't understand it when I wrote it, with tacos swimming in sour beer. Knowing the band was coming the next morning to record a song I couldn't finish. I wrote it staring at the test screen.
But the words looked better in the daylight. I understood them. I still had my music...and my salvation is a work in progress. That will have to do for now. Just like this will have to do for a home.
There are no short cuts, certainly not on the road I took out of Babylon. I feel blessed to have made my get away with so much still in my arms. I felt like a real criminal now, a jewel thief.
But for every diamond I keep, one is lost. The blueprint fails, and you've got to renovate your dreams again. Or give them up. "Surrender, Surrender but don't give yourself away"
You're home. When alone with the quietness of death and failure, and a window without curtains or surrounded by friends and tamales and pints of Smithwicks. When writing detective stories you can't solve at The Aubergine, asking for refills from the 18 year old waitress with her eyes full of tomorrows. Try to keep yours full of todays.
You're home. Unpack and stay awhile. Ask some people 'round.