Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From SR to NYC

To: August 24, 2009
From: May 23, 2009 / Marble Composition Notebook No. ? / NYC

It’s May 23rd and I’m back in NYC. Nine months gone and it’s still home, still very much the same, and yet not so as well. Washington Square Park has been rebuilt and unveiled and it still has as much open space, as much potential as a meeting ground for hundreds, and so I know now that what I’d heard, what I’d feared, has not come to pass, either because the threats of monitoring, of rearrangement of boundaries and parts to keep the people corralled, was untrue or—what I hope, or, more likely—the threat of constraint drove the neighborhood, the New Yorkers, my New Yorkers, to put heads together and throw a fit until they made themselves not just heard, not just known, but a force that promised to be a mule-stubborn and a permanent, itchy thorn. God bless the thorns in sides.

And so now I’m here on this concrete wall, back against the light post, Northeast corner of things, first place I talked enough to Abby Durden to freak her out, listening to this woman in a black dress—Summertime! Summertime!—play guitar, sing her and others’ songs, and the light is through the leaves and I am walking through a dream, woke up in Siem Reap 30-odd hours ago, the world mine and also off, also alien, behind gauze, and I love it here. It is what I know, the drunks on the bench in front of this gal, singing along to Floyd, lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, this everything bagel well-toasted with olive cream cheese, strong iced coffee, just a dash of milk, no sugar, these folks playing chess, the taxis and it’s greener too, artful bike racks around St. Mark’s cube, quieter traffic, or am I just clouded behind that gauze, behind last night’s blunt, jet lag and dregs of airplane sake still in me?

You get in between worlds and you get that new vantage, get clear of the personal plagues that are site-specific, and with that distance see how quickly the fabric is rewoven, always decomposing and re-growing, always torn down, always rebuilt. And of course things aren’t always rebuilt, but here, man, here where I live, where I learned how to live with myself, how to be an adult, this Rome keeps breathing, rebuilding, and I like to think We the People are the red blood cells, the antioxidants, my people, and I miss this all because I see now how it changed without me and, though this is irrational and silly, my feelings are hurt a little.

And I guess that’s how I know I can never fully leave here. A growing, glowing understanding, even with all this gauze in between, that I am of this place, that Asia will be a way of experience, a particular lens or specimen for a set amount of time, but I am very much and forever American, forever a New Yorker and a Southern boy too, and that growing glowing, that is a knowledge of just how lucky that makes me, and all of the responsibility that comes with that, I know it and accept it and love it too because it’s a gift to be chosen by Fate to have the time and the means of gestating this kind of consciousness. We get to carry each other—indeed, Mr. Hewson. And, man, the guitar gal has just started up ‘High and Dry’ and I’ll go back to Brooklyn and hit the pavement with Tony, and this is the United States of America, with all its crippled government and culture of consumption, but so much more too, so much of the twenty different cultures embodied in these strangers collected around me on this Washington Square concrete, listening to this melody beneath these trees, in this lick of breeze, so much fallible potential.

You leave to look back and see. The world of the last generation mutating profoundly, this generation’s lives the axle upon which this Past will turn under to drive up this new and coming Present.

So much in such little time. The gauze will be cut away at some point. What kind of new sight will I be blessed with?

2 comments:

AC Evans said...

good work. ..

Dimitrios said...

i like the "hurt feelings" bit about the city moving on without you. i never really figured out how to describe that vibe you get upon the return. nice.