(© 2004, Scott A. Josephson. All rights reserved.)
There sat we beneath the canopy of tented table, enclosed and sheathed by white linen, sharing weighty words five years in the making, or perhaps five years ago. This felt unlike Manhattan or 2004 or even Spring. It was simply time together and that's all it should ever be.
Shoes removed, inhibitions lost; a prix fixe menu with prices meaningless, detaching ourselves from any external world -- the anxiety band subsuming my mind for 6 months previous, melting in the proximity of this woman with whom I, perched on Egyptian couch, tiny table, a boundless feast of conversation, beautiful eyes, and long hair (I still love long hair), shared every ounce of the essence of my being.
Simon and Garfunkel's music never made more sense than tonight. Not when writing DM, not when cavorting across Washington Square Park (when dreams were youth and disappointment present but still able to be overcome), or alone on icy January night, closing the Kaplan Online Hub at 10 PM, traversing East to West with 22-year old gusto, the spiritual exercise.
There sat we as if time itself had halted, with a twist. Older, yes, but barely changed. But smiles and tents and soup with the consistency of snot alone cannot mend the heartbreak or the time lost or that night when I should have stayed in her car and let us soar to heights unbroken, to the New England I never knew, to the world where evenings behind the wheel wouldn't feel so hopelessly alone any longer -- to the youth I screamed I never had and the Massachusetts of suburban streets where kids watch the same shows I did, reel the same pains in a shared teenagedom that will continue beyond today.
These eyes have held beauty before in their limited engagement of Central Park, 57th Street, North Brunswick, Montauk, Waltham even. The Boulevard might as well have dissolved in to Lexington Avenue. It didn't feel like a dream but a distant reality where things were for once going my way; countless hours in Egyptian tent, every need nurtured with pleasant accomodation, my Cleopatra restored to her throne of misery.
But why must beauty suffer? Why is the world never enough? How is it that happiness has become a self-imposed, unavailable realm, and misery its all too accessible, bitter sister?
And how can I lie to myself and believe I am happy? Happy in her presence once more, a presence I never expected to return rushing to the battered arms of this tortured soul. How 1998 reassumes triumphant, beating, blasting out 19 years the call for a surging tomorrow.
I view her as the future, everything in her eyes gorgeous. But pain uneasy, sadness in her unrest. She calms me, yet I struggle with myself to craft a happiness to call my own -- a battle of casualties the very same as hers, and yours, and all of ours.
She is blinding light, but also she is darkness. And in a way, so am I, brown shirt tucked in tan pants, right shoe too tight, causing me to limp. Laughter on subway platforms, laughter in our own private tented Brandeis, mocking our waiter's use of the neologism, "yum-a-doodle." Laughter of youth and Rhett's smile and the joy we'd find in each other's arms if we'd only make that sacrifice and accept ourselves.
But, alas, I know I am a jaded idealist, a lost philosopher -- and I will not let false thoughts belie these eyes as so often they do. I have known the lonely pavement of 3,000 miles -- but it is not the gravel that reaches out for the comfort of the world. No, the sidewalks and the streets are not alone -- it is I.
And riding trains and buses and subways and walking through tunnels and stations and cities all along my life have I know such terrifying loneliness. Hands entrenched in pockets, music overpowering, tears never quite coming. Air-drumming, avoiding all forms of humanity, seeking refuge in the confines of art.
Traversing through stations, past homes and concrete, mailboxes and stop signs, traffic lights in a town that isn't mine. Massachusetts Avenue, Porter Square, just before midnight after a silent, screeching T ride. Boston -- an urban center bursting with youth, yet permeated, pervading with a centuries-old sadness.
I feel the echoes and sighs of cities and streetlights -- I know my father's melancholy in the mid 1960s; the deaths of Presidents and dreams and girls riding buses to Hoboken that could have been yours.
And through all of this, I shiver. Constantly I do toil to no avail, spurting savings on concerts I can't wait to end, simply to say I was present -- to tack another ticket stub to the list of famous people who performed before mine eyes.
How sad this city is, Lexington to 1st, the 59th Street Bridge just as it was when Paul Simon was as mournful as I. New York -- this overpriced, overwrought metal and glass monstrosity that somehow considers itself the center of the universe. It is everything that is wrong and shameful about America; it is everything we should have never become.
It's the stuff that stomach aches are made of. It's an anxious, fucked up little town with crude motherfuckers who hate themselves and reflect this by hurting and killing and cremating one another in to the pavement. There is no unity or culture or camraderie, but war and lust, bloodthurst and mistrust. And everyone's out there living ignorant lives apart from one another, when we're all living the same anxiety that one day we're going to die and leave the world without the knowledge as to why we're fucking here in the first place.
And still we ride these subways, exhaust our dollars, and carry onward somehow beyond this sadness. We seek no solace in one another, shunning friendship in the face of anonymity. Yet we relish our surroundings, a false ubiquity of every pretense.
All of this existed not in the confines of our tent -- a world I wished I'd never escape, for she was mine and I hers, behind the white veil of vanished youth. But it's the hope, not that one day everything will start to make sense -- but the simple hope that love will find us together and, for the first time, maybe we'll start to understand the madness that we wrote on this timeless eve of twenty-somethings evermore.
07 February 2006
(© 2004, Scott A. Josephson. All rights reserved.)