Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

I woke up at 5am, then again at 7, then once more at 8. I think of C a lot, alternately between daydreaming about a future together, and chastising myself for doing so. The weather is warm. My micro-suede comforter is sweating along with me. I motivate myself - rise quickly and suddenly, grab a notebook, jot down my hour to hour duties for the day. By 9am I’m at the Laundromat, by 11:30, my clothes are hung and I’m in the shower. By Noon I’m sauteing Portobello mushrooms and tossing them on a bed of string beans. By 1pm I’m on the BX15 to the end of the line, a pier at the head of the West Side Greenway. By 2:20, I’ve rollerskated from Harlem to Chelsea Piers, having passed several Memorial Day Weekend extravaganzas such as free kayaking, Fleet Week at the Intrepid, and rocking yachts at the boat basin - their masts bending dramatically before a benign Jersey skyline. I stop to grab a Vitamin Water from a cart vendor, then skate down to Christopher Street - passing a skate park, a trapeze training school, and some MTV event where a boat that looks like it was designed by H.R. Giger is framed by a dozen Dr. Pepper ads.

My nano is shuffling through the odd mix - Gorillaz, Beethovan, Miles Davis, Manu Chao - and before I can pride myself in having eclectic tastes, I have to remind myself that such tastes are fairly typical of my generation. Cochrane next to Osbourne, Wagner next to The Pussycat Dolls; singular inclinations are frowned upon by the under 40 set, and I’m wondering if I shouldn’t maintain a certain focus on one genre just to remain differentiated - assuming I ever was. Zhuangzi, I believe, was the Chinese Philosopher who said it was better to be an expert at one thing, than to skim the surface of many.

I’m wondering if that isn’t the problem with so many of us now days, all our cultural obsessions, our graphic-fueled fetishes, if it isn’t Anime, it’s Star Wars, if it isn’t Harry Potter, it’s iTunes, and don’t forget we have to keep track of the thirty TV shows with either a developing plotline, or the changed life of a winner. Then again, I deal in none of that. I’ve systematically designed my life to be free of obsessions. I chucked my television years ago. I refuse to see a movie based off a comic book or video game. Yet, I’m still a monkey brain, still scattered, still jumping wildly from one project to the next, skimming the surfaces of all. Maybe it’s always an issue with regular people, people who aren’t geniuses or workaholics, people who aren’t madly in love with their own damn visceral lives.

So many people I know get excited for a hot minute about some passion, then the details become a reality: the money involved, the time to make, the energy to drum. Three weeks later I ask how their dream project is going, and I get a barrage of excuses, sometimes defensive like I’m nagging at them, sometimes embarrassed as if I put them in a clown suit - mostly sad. I’m no different. I put up a good front, I do stuff and it gets done, but its all mediocre, half assed, useless - I might as well not have done it at all. What’s the point of doing anything if it’s not going to change the world? I’m working my ass off only for the effect.

At Christopher Street, I take off my skates. Woozy from two hours on wheels, tinted with sun, I cross West Side highway and stumble past a slight, bald man idly smoking a cigarette in the threshold of a S&M store. Next to him, a leather-and-studs masked mannequin with a zipper for a mouth poses seductively. I buy tickets to see Fay Grimm for me and a friend at the IFC center. With two hours to kill, I lease a table at the West 3rd sliver wood and plexiglass, J&B’s (their banner “Coffee, Tea, Snapple, Juice”). My cell phone at home, I have nothing to fiddle with, nothing to beat my thumbs against, so I ogle two lovers kissing in front of an open window. They are punk kids, skinny. The girl is wearing tiger-striped tights under paisley butt-shorts. Her black bob frames an eggshell face slashed by a bloody mouth. The boy looks like something Gus Van Sant would photograph beautifully: lanky, mop haired, angel-eyed, clearly hairless under a military tee. They hold hands like people only do in plays, her hand over his, clasping at the fingers, in the air between their bellies. They part and she runs towards Bleecker Bob’s, but I can’t tell if she’s going inside or not. Behind me, in the shop, eight Upper West Side moms compare stylists and reapply lipstick. They are fit and tanned, slightly muscular from their aerobic boxing workouts, highlighted hair slashed this way and that, perfectly applied Humectress.

I toss my Iced Coffee and follow the girl in the Bleecker Bob’s, but she is not there. I peruse the perversely unkempt record collection and daydream about the turntable I plan to buy when I move into my new apartment which does not yet exist.

After the movie, which was terrible, my friend and I dine outdoors on Macdougal Street. Our conversation is stilted, as it usually is, but not without warmth and affection of a twenty year history. I order a champagne and marvel at how European the city can look and feel like when it wants too.

And I wonder where the girl went.


Blogger Wordstrix said...

Beautiful writing. I love the picture you paint of NYC on a holiday weekend. Poingant and real. Thank you.

12:23 PM  

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