Tuesday, June 23, 2015
When I was at my poorest I felt the most free. It was a time of dancing, singing, yelling, and one strange and powerful encounter. And even years later, after all the trouble and heartbreak it would cause I still would gallivant forward towards her and that uncertainty I felt.
I was unemployed and running off of the credit I had built up from my days working at the photo lab. I quit my job because I didn't believe in who I was, let alone the work I was doing. I knew my ambition too well for that stable life to continue. I wanted to wander and record the stories and the people I came across. I wanted to fill my empty heart with the only love I knew. And so in the Spring I stopped paying rent, I sold all my things, and lived out of a backpack. I said to myself, "You have to work harder to get where you want to be". And everyday since has been harder and harder.
My sister invited me to live with her in Albuquerque. She was growing through a hard break up and needed some family. I needed family as well, and a roof above my head until I figure out my next step.
In the days leading up to the end of my lease I grew terribly sad. I knew this sadness very well, and since I had been living in Buffalo for the past decade, I named this sadness, Buff a lo (buff a lo, you'll never know how low I go...). I was saying my goodbyes one by one, trying my hardest to be present, to feel that person beside me. I never know if people can tell if I am distant from the part of me I call human. If they can see through my disguise: my calming voice or my kind eyes that smile for my shy mouth. There would be Alex, and Alex, and then Terry, and Pepper, and then the whole damn crew. We would go out into the night, drunk or high, yelling loudly through quiet neighborhoods. We threw around stories of some of funniest moments together. Remember that time we were in Delaware Park yelling like wild animals? Between all of us there was a wolf, a gorilla, a crow, and a dog. Pepper was there too, that guy can run through the woods in the dark like a bat on fire!
As we walked through the city I saw many memories stacked one on top of the other flash by. It made me sick and so I just pictured being gone and hopefully never seeing any of it again.
It was when I was saying goodbye to one of the Alexs I ran into her, literally. I had just left for the bathroom, I was holding a pee for thirty minutes, I was stuck in a conversation and I couldn't pause it, and so I was holding a pee for thirty minutes. I broke the conversation with an abrupt, "I gotta go...to the john!" I jetted for the bathroom, hit the stairs and stumbled out of sight. And as I fell forwards she came running up the stairs. For a fraction of a second I saw her face, she was looking down at her shoes and then looked up at me and calmly smiled. I could only imagine the disgruntlement on my face as I flew towards her. She took a step back and had left the steps for the foundation of floor. She reached her arms out and grabbed me in mid air. My eyes must've been closed at that point, because all I imagined was my dumb body hitting her, how bad I felt, would if I break something of hers, she seemed so nice and there I was, ruining her evening. When I opened my eyes I wasn't on the ground with someone partly bruised, maybe concussed underneath me. When I opened my eyes I wasn't on the floor, I was being held in a deep embrace safely on my feet, and in that moment I felt lighter than ever. And before an exchange could occur, a thank you, or a My God, you are a savior! she had let me go, slipped passed me and disappeared somewhere upstairs. I stood there for a good long minute without a thought in my head. My hands still felt warm flesh on them. I had completely forgot that I had to pee.
"Want to come dancing with us tomorrow?", her and our friend said.
"Of course, that sounds fun. Where?"
"The Alt Theater"
"What kind of music?"
"ahh, it's like world and dubby stuff."
"Alright, I'll call you tomorrow."
"Great, great, we can't wait!"
Her and our friend left the bar, I wanted to go run after them, I had just seen the two of them together and got high from their company and now they were leaving...leaving for something fun I felt. I returned my eyes to the person in front of me and the person I was saying goodbye to. That sit felt like a hundred fire ants biting my ass. I felt an impulse screaming through my soul. Go! Go run after them, you can do that, it's rude but you have to go to that. There is no other way. I shallowed the rest of my "juice" and picked up where I last left off with Alex. Eventually the stings went away, the voice silenced and I was back in the room.
The next day I called up our friend and we spoke for about the day, what our first thought was that morning, and I got carried by how it felt strange looking at the ceiling this morning; not because it was being seen through the No-See-Um mesh of a tent but because I was finally, actually, leaving this place (apartment, neighborhood, city, this life). We agreed to meet at six, I was stressed about giving all my things away and cleaning the apartment. My sister was coming soon, I was going out dancing and I knew the responsible thing was to stay home and get on with this move. I called again and made plans to meet our friend at her house. We hugged asked our each other's days went and I threw a few questions about our friend. I wanted to know more about her without it my curiosity being too noticeable. I asked and she answered. We took off after her and she was running late. We laughed and I was sucking in as much comfort I had with our friend until she came out. I wanted to be relaxed, myself, the self that doesn't feel nervous or shy, lost, sticking his nose where it didn't belong.
She came out and we all went down the street on our bikes. Between stopped I would ask questions about what we were going to and what to expect? "Should I be high for this?" "No, please don't." "Alright, alright, I'll stop asking questions". We arrive at the Alt Theater, I have to sign a waiver. I moved towards the dancehall and I am told to take off my shoes and to not talk while in the dancehall. I do as I was told and dump my things in a giant pile of other people's things. In the dancehall there are people dancing: one guy is looking up to the ceiling moving his arms towards the overhead lights while a lady and a grey-bearded man with long hair roll around on the ground. A couple hugging each other hard and move in a circle, a bald man dances like a tribesman around an invisible fire. I don't feel like I am in a room full of young adults that look too cool, the music isn't noise, there aren't any drunks, no freshly-broken up men and women yelling, "I'M FREE!". I feel like I am arriving to the first day of kindergarten and I smile.
To Be Continued...