“I’m too scared,” i tell him.
“Good," he says. "Stay scared.”
days and nights merge into each other in my memory. i write the way i dream: out of order, jumping from one scene to the next without any sensible transition. piecing it all together in small bouts of recollection. sometimes it feels like i live that way too.
i’m white-knuckling the subway pole as if holding on for dear life. i count the healthy ways i cope on one hand, dog-ear pages in a Sylvia Plath poetry collection. i’m grinding my teeth in my sleep again.
have you ever felt completely awake in a dream?
lucid in my childhood bedroom. the lights are on, the walls are green like they were when i was younger. a woman dressed in victorian funeral garb walks in, all black with a red rose in her hair. when i saw her i knew. “this is a dream,” i said out loud. “wake up.”
eyes open sharp to a space unfamiliar. the room spins and the west wall looks like it’s falling until i realize i’m in brooklyn. i do my best to recount my dreams, everything a blur, friends and strangers. how quickly strangers can become friends. how quickly friends can become strangers.
a few weeks later i'm lucid again, in a bright white structureless space. i try to concentrate & manifest someone i want to apologize to, just to see how it feels. she never shows.
life update: i am truly happy and grateful to be where i am. i ride the L train every morning and the high of feeling valued throughout the day. i spend long nights out late, chasing the sun. when i find the wormhole that allows passage through space-time i’ll go tell my younger self that everything will work out, just wait. making art is a sanctuary- it always has been. there are just some things linger.
“Healing is not a linear process,” ashley tells me. old habits die hard.
the train feels like a submarine moving through the dark, the station feels uncomfortably sterile. i’m in my hometown at a show and the energy feels different. a dj samples a metal song that i knew in high school. “i grew up five minutes from here,” i tell someone i just met. he calls me by a nickname that my friends from home would call me. everything comes full circle.
i’m picking up memories from the summer on the sidewalk of bloomfield ave. i wrote about it a lot after the fact- when i was back in brooklyn, starting a new phase of life. “nostalgia for an hour ago.”
we watched the hudson change colors from the edge of Pier 13 at twilight. lemonade shandies and old friends- a bitter sweetness. it’s good to be home.
i drove my brother back to our house and told him that things are okay now but they weren’t for a while. he said he was always here to talk. for some reason i never took him up on the offer. now i’m back in new york and he’s moving across the country. So it goes.
So it goes.
standing still backstage at the wellmont and my legs are shaking so hard they go sore. a shot of whiskey at the top-floor bar slows everything back down to a comfortable pace. the past comes back in ways unexpected. i mourn what i can’t control in five stages.
i live in a dream, completely awake. it’s easier that way.
“it’s not your responsibility to heal anyone,” my mom tells me.
sunday night in new york and i’m late on a deadline. on the A train, laptop dying. i get off at washington square to find somewhere to plug in.
it feels like i haven’t been to the village in ages. i exit the station at west 3rd and carmine street and realize how lost i feel. nothing looks familiar, my throat is swelling. how do we lose parts of ourselves so quickly? what do we give them up for? is it worth it? it only seems to be in the heat of a moment.
there’s no heat this time. only the wind.
i turn around to see a sign for bleecker street and catch my breath again. it points to leroy where my grandfather grew up. i came here with him for the first time when i was 15. rocco’s bakery is warm and familiar but i strike out on open outlets there. the four-faced liar too. i’m starting to feel like the neighborhood is toying with me.
the wind continues and i let it carry me to west 4th street. it hasn’t felt the same here since the record store closed. even the fucking starbucks that replaced it sits dark and useless. i strike gold at a bar called the slaughtered lamb, sharing power with a string of blinking lights near the window. i’ve never been in here but it already feels familiar. maybe this is the village forgiving me for abandoning it.
“Are you looking for something?” a man who i assume is the owner asks as im surveying the bar. yes, a lot of things. but for now just an outlet.
the academy awards are playing on the tvs and a woman at the bar is reacting loudly. her name is Lisette, she tells me as i’m waiting for a drink. she’s a writer. “i get that freelance life,” she says. i tell her i don’t mind it. i really don’t, in fact i prefer it. it’s nights like these–late on a deadline, desperate for a power source and a few more hours in the day, making studios out of bars and public transit and coffee shops, connecting with strangers living their own version of that life–where i feel like i’m on the right path. like there’s a place for me, even in doubt, and it’s right here.
i’m keeping my family close- or at least anyone who feels like family.
Jaime and I sat in her kitchen for hours last night and caught up. We talked until our tea went cold. She sent me home with a hug and a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies. We all deserve people who will better us. Who will spend evenings with us at their kitchen table until there is nothing left to talk about- at least, not tonight. We all deserve to feel heard, valued, understood.
We all deserve better than we think we do.