I know that time is short so I feel riddled with this sense of constant urgency. I just want to be efficient. I want to be graced with as much as I can have. It will all be too quick, too ephemeral, fleeting and fast. In the wake of its truancy, my projected feeling will be, shock and bewilderment. And it will all be enduringly different.
When I ride the subway and listen to Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross I’m pretty sure I have a spiritual experience. As close as I’ll ever get to that one-set-of-footprints-in-the-sand situation. I drag the volume up far enough for it to cut off all outside noise and I watch the crowds of strangers slow down to the music in my ears. It seems to make the commotion and chaos exalted, like when they play classical music over tumultuously violent movie scenes. It’s those same apocalyptic films that reserve the west as the only impervious destiny. It’s like a soundtrack I’ve forced upon the faces and through my blackened sunglasses I watch it make them all so beautiful. This morning I looked out the window as the train pulled out. There was a man with a pony-tail running on the platform. His jaunty stride made him look like he was covering more ground vertically than horizontally, but he bounced to the beat of Albatross. I would be falling to my knees and screaming amen if my reaction to such joy didn’t simply stun me and result in me swaying back and forth like Stevie Wonder with my head up and eyes shut. Albatross is magic. It is definitely greater than me. All is well in an Albatross world.
People are always looking for that. It must be how we’re made. Built to search for the magic, whatever fugitive ghost it goes by in the moment – religion, alienation, metaphysics. When we run out of guesses and answers we call it magic or god or love. Because the feeling is so great or so dark, it must be otherworldly.
While I was having my lunch today at work (chain-smoking and drinking a can of diet coke), this gypsy with gold-capped teeth came by and sat on the bench next to me. I’ve seen her in the neighborhood before. Walking, smoking, carting laundry. This time she had two kids with her and was screaming on a cell phone in a language I couldn’t understand nor identify. I also couldn’t tell if her conversation was a horrific fight between star-crossed lovers or just a daily conversation of normal inflection and volume. Once she got off the phone she turned to me and said, “There’s a lot on your face. I need to tell you to keep fighting. Don’t let her go. Do you have an extra cigarette?”
An unprovoked fortune for the price of a cigarette? Frankly, that’s a bargain.
Lately, there’s this song I can’t stop hearing in my head. It plays over and over, without my permission and breaks my heart about 50 times every ten-seconds.
The tiny Greek in a blazer is skipping town soon. She is magic and fuck if it isn’t hard to pack that on a jet-plane and kiss it goodbye. I’m fairly certain I’ll never see the likes of it again – and maybe that’s just the lot of it. I actually can’t even fathom the absence so I don’t try. As I’ve aged, I’ve stopped predicting the future. I don’t guess in wonderment anymore I just try to ignore how badly I want things to go. I’m certain I’ll fight till the very end.
I live in a very temporary way. Going from the stark contrast of being a child, having a child’s mind where all things are permanent – to quite abruptly, in adolescence, being signed into treatment centers, being faced with a sentence of 6-12 months in a lockdown psych ward and living amongst people who had never seen release, changed me. All of this possible because I was a minor and my young, effaced rights belonged to someone else [and the small fact that I was a bull in a booze-soaked-china-shop]. It’s all so temporary.
That elongated experience has formed much of how I operate now. People perceive me as constantly happy and laughing. Which I am. This is only because I believe it can all be over tomorrow, or tonight, or this afternoon, or now. Only because I believe life is such shit. It’s filled with hurt, cowards, enemies, hate and fear and in this exact moment if I can feel love or laughter I fucking will. This might be it, the height of it all. This might be my ceiling.
One of my favorite writers once said, “…poverty is no more surreal than wealth; a body clad in filthy rags is not more surreal than a principessa dressed for a ball… ” And what we have is no more surreal than what we have not. What is surreal is the distance imposed. Maybe by time or luck or chance. Or magic.