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He slowly pulled on the worn boots that had served him so well over the years. Opening the door he heard her rustle quietly in their bed that they had pulled into the living room. She was never as beautiful as now, the early morning hours when he could no longer sleep. He closed the door gently stepping out into the cold entry to their modest apartment building. Stuffing his muddled head into his wool hat, he started off north on Western Ave. He had been walking pointlessly for two hours before finding himself a suitable Rogers Park coffee shop.
It was after we drove out to the beach but before deciding to stay the night at that hotel. Before we got in the ocean and well before we got in the hot tub. Before the pizza but after the oysters. It was sometime between that 3rd and 4th margarita, during my typically self-deprecating explanation of my friends trying to fix me up with someone, that you let it slip. In between my 2nd and 3rd Guinness you said you'd liked me and I'd missed it. Understandably that ripped through my heart but also filled me with some belated joy.
The room when dark then excrutiatingly bright. The alchohol and coffee that coarsed through his body came flooding out like so many of those mid-summer thunderstorms that attacked Gainesville everyday for 4 months. Every ounce of disillusion, rage, love, joy and sadness was being wrung out of him by the hundreds of other people crammed into the club's sweat and beer soaked floor. He ceased trying to control his movement or exert his will. it was tied up now with these people, probably searching for that same release as Hot Water Music screamed "use all your fears as a fuel..."
he touched her shoulder gently. The day had been a beautiful attempt at forging something new. Before something had always stood in the way. A girlfriend, 1300 miles, a boyfriend, fear. But now at the bottom of this glass, at the back of this room, close to the ground, they reached into each others arms, desperate to find some return on all of this. She looked knowingly at him, knowing that her oblique confession over lunch hadn't gone unnoticed. He, for the first time, seemed fully unnerved around her. That was a good thing. As Songs:Ohia played they finally kissed.
Where would we be Santa Barbara Café girl, if I had asked you out in that month-or-so before S? Maybe you served coffee and bagels while you finished your film degree. And we'd still live in an artsy Sommerville apartment. Or perhaps Boston was your latest year-long stop and we're planning our route from Germany to New Zealand. Maybe that was just your crappy day job. Punk rock was your real passion. After our 3rd date you asked me to come-with on your first national tour. Or maybe we just feel in love and decided to grow old together, wherever.
The last few months have been wonderful music-filled. On Friday Joe and I drove to Tallahassee to see Hot Water Music, Gunmoll and Whiskey and Co. Next weekend there's a return trip to catch the Dismemberment Plan's farewell tour. Tomorrow Del Cielo returns to town. In 2 weeks Against Me!, True North and the Skorts play a benefit in Jacksonville. 2 weeks ago Samantha Jones, Lars Din and Thick As Theives played an old church then 45 minutes later The Casket Lottery and Small Brown Bike rocked out our local hole-in-the-wall. And Songs:Ohia finally visits our state later this summer.
The laughter flowed like cheep beer at a high school kegger. I love that I can make you laugh and giggle. But tonight there was something different. It was scary in a way. I could hear something so familiar, knowing in your laugh tonight. Maybe it was the pitch, or your trying to talk through it or something but you sounded just like S__ on the phone laughing. It didn't make me miss her more, it made me miss you. I want that back in my life all the time, the mixture of humor and love and politics and art.
"OK," he said to his friend, sounding curiously like his old lover, "can I just tell you how ridiculously geeked out I feel when I get a message from her?" There was something about the joy and the suggestion of tomorrow in her excited voice that filled him with that feeling. "I haven't had this big a crush on someone, someone I know and have actually talked to that is, in like 7 years," he confided in his roomate. And crushed he was when he'd come home, nervously expectant only to see the answering machine's lonely red light not blinking.
It has not been the best of days here. Inspiration didn't show up for work today, third time this month. Lazy bastard. Creativity called in sick. Desire and ambition just sit at their desks pushing papers around and sneaking long distance phone calls. Self-doubt has been parading around the office with her latest fascination, talking loud enough to distract everyone from their work. And every time I walk by passion's cubicle he's fucking around on the internet. To top it all off, I get a call from my inner-child's school and find out he got his ass kicked during playtime.
There's a familiarity that's bred by driving down these same streets again and again. Even though you work at taking a different way, you end up here on 7th time and again. There are some days that that comfort takes on the feel of obligation. But there are nights like tonight, through the lens of alchohol and crushes and wonderful punk rock that fills in the cracks, allows these houses take on histories and wonder.
And then to come in and find two more messages from you tonight on the machine makes it feel like the rest of time is boundless.
He put his hands in his pockets. The black peacoat kept him warmer this winter than in years past. As he walked home from the corner store, beer tucked under his left arm, he decided: To live solitarily. He knew it wasn't a good idea, but he felt spiteful this evening. He was tired of them acting like they knew who exactly he was, why exactly he did it. Yeah he had crossed back over a line, but not unprovoked. She had played her part too. But it didn't matter anymore. He'd live without them. Stripped down, just and fiery.
Given some other time it might be more depressing, but right now it's tantilizing. We're like those characters in the romantic comedy who pour over the bits and pieces of life with one another. Alternately complaining and consoling each other about the disappointments of love, the disillusionment of work and the ongoing quest to be happy. As we counsel, (with barbs) each other about how to dump the current loser we're with, we'll only vaguely hint at our mutal attraction to each other. Until the last 15 minutes of the movie when, with an appropriate soundtrack, we both
When I pack my things and load up, finally move back to Chicago will you join me? I don't know whether as friends or lovers or something else, but will you come along? I'll get a black peacoat in time for the snow and we'll find a neighborhood bar to call our own. We'll work to turn this system over, make passionate stabs at it. We'll share the Sunday Tribune over coffee and bagels, we'll argue at museums, we'll tease each other at shows, and make each other laugh and cry. We'll grow into something different and better together there.
He sat quietly at the desk in his oversized room, the new Jay Farrar CD playing on his worn boombox. Her call had pleasantly, beautifully interupted his evening of database programming. The talked, maybe for the first time he could remember, passionately and effortlessly about organizing; unfettered with laughter or feigned assurances of holding it all together, but laid bare with all the inconsistancies and insecurities that come with waging hand-to-hand combat with capitalism. Afterwards he thought that they both felt more sure about that fight, but also more inspired about whatever this was they were doing with each other.
He sat alone at the all-night diner considering how strange his life had become. Today was a perfect example of it all. 8 hours ago he had been drinking beer with his boss over lunch and had made out, albeit briefly and regretably (though not for the obvious reasons), with a married woman. 4 hours ago he'd been at a dinner party with scores of people his age, but spent most of it talking and playing with 2 five year olds; they were just more engaging. As the coffee cooled, he dreamt of having the humility-laden desperation of John Cusack.
If you went to Boston, I'd tell you to eat at Pete's Ribs in East Boston, suggest squeezing in a game at Fenway before they tear it down and wax poetic about the pico de gallo at the Central Square Picante. If you went to Chicago (after trying to tag along) I'd tell you about the Northwestern U dorm roof from which you can see great sunrises, encourage you to venture down to the Fireside, and give you directions to Luc Thang, a wonderful Thai place on Ashland. But if you came here and didn't call? Well fuck you then.
Random thoughts from tonight's game: If the pick of/trade for Marcus Banks is any indication, Ainge is gonna have the Celtics turned around in no time. Simply put, Banks will change the entire complexion of the team next year. He's lightning quick, apparently confident but not arrogant in his play, seems to get excited by making a good pass, and knows exactly where to be to start the break. I also really hope Brandon Hunter makes the team. A banger with something to prove. A hard-nosed PF and a jitterbug PG: My dreams of the last 4 years finally answered!
Let's ride these bikes hard, till they creak and crack at the seams. Ride them with intent and focus through these familiar, humid streets. And lets talk with purpose, talk about things that matter. Talk like things do matter. That the president lying and sending kids off to die in far off places is more of a crime than that same kid selling rocks on the corner. Let's walk honestly. And lets push each other, to fight back wisely. Lets make out like this will be the last kiss. Love each other fiercely and without an eye forward or back.
What do you want? What are you really searching for?
To be loved nothing more. That's what I'd settle for.
But what kind of love? One that makes you nervously sick-to-your-stomach. I want that feeling I get when I hear your voice on the answering machine, of my heart doing a backflip and my mind racing in a million directions. I want a woman who's smarter than I am, whose experience dwarves mine. I want a woman who's artsy without being pretensious or oblique. I want a woman who lives directly, but doesn't mind taking the long way if necessary.
Eight months later she sat on her bed reading this tattered book he had given her. The distance they'd unwillingly put between them had served her well. Days after meeting, he'd flown to Chicago for his first assignment and she stayed behind, left to wonder what could have been. They lost touch at first but slowly drifted back, usually talking on the phone for hours each week. There was something electric she felt when thinking about him there. But now he was coming home and that distance would be gone. Could she really tell him that she'd fallen for him?
Sitting here wearing this mesh trucker hat, he felt like a fool. What had he seen in these people for so long? Once upon a time he had idolized them. But passion had been replaced with cynicism and weak attempts at irony. He was expected to eschew basic rock music for jazz, the obscurer the better. But you know what? He just couldn't get into it, even the more well-known stuff like Miles Davis or John Coltrane. His secret confessions were more basic, and thus carried infinitely more risk in admitting: Avril Lavigne's CD, PEOPLE magazine and the sports page.
Where does it say that in order to live a fulfilling life you have to cram it chock full of random, quote-unquote exciting experiences? You see these folks who bounce around from experience to experience claiming all the while that they're living life stronger and more full. But does this hold up under inspection? Or is it just a self necessary switcheroo? I mean there's nothing inherently less engaging about putting down roots, doing something well *and* consistently, or commiting yourself to the long term? They are different kinds of experiences, not better or worse than the other, just different.
Why is it that
run this world? From the small-minded to the weak to the power-hungry and dishonest, its painful to watch these men without imagination, devoid of compassion and fearful of justice and solidarity run this beautiful, difficult, wonderful world into the ground. And for what? For one more fucking dollar, for the fleeting adulation or fame that forcing poor folks to kill each other brings? And the moron elevator effect seems to happen at all levels from Washington down to the shop floor. It's almost like every position of power says "people with intelligence need not apply".
She remembered walking those Cambridge streets with him while he puffed on whatever brand of cigarettes he used to smoke. It was after she'd started loving him, but before she got the nerve to tell him. She had been there for him as his life was being thrown about like beach ball at Fenway Park. But years later, after they had fallen in love, after they had moved 1,000 miles for his new job, she needed him. The big difference was not knowing how to ask. An her not knowing what she was going through and therefore what she needed.
In just over 12 hours I'll be in New York City. I'll savor going from the M60 bus to the 4/5/6;a grand opening to a ridiculously fantastic 72 hour trip. A hotel that we'd never be able to afford. Maybe we'll go on a walking tour, or just talk and take pictures. It's been a bizarre trip already: Can't go because of the elections, then possibly a week, then off, then jump on a plane, then can't afford it, then you-only-live-once, then still can't afford it, now have to leave for Tampa in 13 hours. I'm nervous and deleriously excited.
Bill Perry left town today. You probably don't know or care who Bill is, but those fo us around here do. For me he's been a part of buying records for over 10 years. But I don't agree with those, obviously trying to show how much Bill means to them, who say "Gainesville will never be the same without Bill". Because it will be. Part of what this town is, maybe the hardest part to accept, is the watching and letting friends go. All the time, over and over. So farewell Bill. Like the rest of us, you'll be back.
Fifth Hour Hero blares on the headphones while I lament the pain of real working folk. Not you fuckers who think just because you're liberal it absolves you. We're trying to build some better, more just world. I'll take the rage and anger at y'all and focus it on overthrowing this miserable capitalist system. Whey would you want them over me? Why does their randomness outweigh my dedication and velocity? Fuck nihilism and apathy and smugness and this part of Brooklyn for that matter.. I want something different from this world. And its only going to come through hard work.
Love and desire, yes. Scrape and struggle for them all the time. But only as part of this larger struggle for justice and freedom. It just tastes better that way, sweeter perhaps. I love how Fifth Hour Hero wails at me in that political voice, sweating out passion and conviction that you weak fuckers lack in spades. Enjoy your fucking Williamsburg lofts while we wage real class war. The significance of hipsters and their meaningless will be ignored byt the new history the Movement writes. And why should that working stiff buy you a fucking round of drinks? Vapid idiots.
He sat down to write. He wanted to detail all the parts of the weekend: the great, delicious taste of alchohol and cigarettes on her breath, the lurking fear and imagined distance, the blisters on top of blisters on his feet, the instability of feeling (one minute up, one minute down, fuzzy then clear), of the way Brooklyn reminded him of Chicago as he walked home and of the people he saw. But he couldn't, wasn't ready to try and make sense of all of it on paper. Right now these things had to battle it out in his head.
"I guess it shows it really pays to fight," he said into the receiver, knowing he was talking, in some ways, about fighting for her. Then it came. That awkward pause after 45 minutes of stories, where he was able to choke back the apprehension and tell her what he meant by the note. He'd come home wondering if the whole trip had been a mistake, but she deliciously surprised him by confiding that she felt the same way but had been worried she'd blown
chance that drunken night. "Nothing could be further from the truth," he mused silently.
That urge starts sometime between lunch and the afternoon cup of coffee. A twinge at first, brought on by a song or embarassing moment. But by the time that cup of coffee is over, the one that follows the 5 O'clock factory bell, there's a collage of observations, funny things, artifacts and passion that I can't wait to paint for you over that scratchy phone line. But life happens after work, and I'm left only checking my machine to see if maybe you called. Walking in at 10:30 then, the first thing on my mind is always dialing your number.
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