Subtle and Cataclysmic
And here I am now in Bryant Park, and I remember the group drinks with the group I worked with briefly at my brother-in-law’s company way back in the early New York years. But layered on top of that is Bryant Park where two years ago I brought Wally to a yoga class one spring morning. Or before that, Bryant Park, where Kara and I first came to watch an outdoor movie, maybe On the Waterfront, something with Brando I think, years ago, with that glee and exhilaration that we lived in the city now where things like this were just every day things, movies outside in the summer and noise and commotion and people with so many places to be. In between there's Bryant Park where seven years ago I bought a pass to the Carousel that still has many unused punches that for some reason makes me sad. Carousels are something you grow out of faster than you want to let on. You ride them after they’re no longer fun so you end up putting on a performance for those watching you, smiling and waving each time you catch sight of your family smiling at you from the sidelines, blurry and ephemeral, and what the camera doesn’t catch is your face just after you’ve passed them by, the way the smile loses its spirit, becomes stiff, your eyes vacant.
But inevitably just as I am beginning to let these images swirl up and see how they might converge or overlap or string together, one or the other of miniature creatures that share our apartment appears before me, blinking and seeming to have emerged from the violet forest of a LateSummer Night’s Dream, and I am yanked out of that near-reverie, yanked into a bed too small for three people, with too many elbows, but a happiness too, undeniably a cozy happiness about it, too.
Yesterday I found a story called “A Time Before CBGB’s” in a literary journal published in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1999. The journal was sent to me by an ex-boyfriend because he was published in it, Vol 21. You’re in it, the ex-boyfriend had assured me in a hand-written letter, back in those final days of their existence. But I was in it in only the most insultingly inconsequential way.“And it turns out this ex-grrlfriend, Rachel, actually introduced David to Emily, the turning point of this story.” He reversed the name of my band then with the name of the song about him that he ruined at the only show we ever played together. He changed other insignificant details. None of it has any meaning for me now, not even nostalgia. I brought it down to the laundry-room book giveaway, and left it there, flies buzzing around. It was more the Pre-CBGB's title that struck me, in this post-CBGB's era. Which brings me to the streets of New York, where I am now. Where I have been...lost? Like in the Natalie Merchant song?
It's so much harder for me in writing sometimes to capture what felt graspable in music easily. So why am I pursuing writing now? Why have I all but given up writing songs? I'm so far behind everyone who spent all these years reading and writing about poststructuralist theory when I was listening to the sound of slamming doors and folding chairs. No, we never had anyone to slam doors or fold chairs—we did that ourselves, hauling our amps, spilling battery acid, thinking one day all this would make a great story if we could ever stop riding long enough to tell it. We were the ones who had to take things apart and carry them away.