Wednesday, June 21, 2023


"Are you still up?"

It was late, the last spring night of the year.  I was.  It was long past my usual hour, but I'd spent the day, the latter part, going through those 8mm scans, loading them all onto a disc for my mother.  I came across one that I found funny and predictive, so I imported it into the editing program and began to make a short, funny clip.  But I was stymied.  After I had spent some time preparing it, I couldn't export it.  I had turned it into something that wouldn't render.  It took me a very long time to figure out how to remedy the problem.  While I was doing that, I opened my top desk drawer.  It is like many drawers in my house, a disorganized mystery wreck waiting to be plundered.  I saw a picture that intrigued me.  But wait, I was looking for something I couldn't remember.  Maybe if I saw it. . . . I pulled out pens, staples, paper clips, photographs, my old business cards from the factory and other paraphernalia I had brought home.  There was a card from Christmas I hadn't seen since then.  There was the careful script on the envelope and that small, instantly recognizable heart.  I opened it.  It was beautiful and made me full, but. . . did it say what I had believed it said?  I kept digging.  There were some pages pulled from a small notebook.  

"This is the last letter," it said.  "But don't worry, I will never forget you."

It was a letter left for me after the moving.  I didn't remember it.  I probably read it quickly with a thick throat and hurriedly thrown it into the drawer to be forgotten.  I had never revisited it, had never looked at it again, so it was a knockdown shock to me entirely.  It went on to describe the sweetest details of our lives together, the exact moment, she said, when she fell in love.  

I called my mother.  I wouldn't be over, I said.  It was raining, so I used that as an excuse.  

I looked through the drawer some more.  There was a ring, a Cartier ruby I hadn't seen in the ensuing years.  

"I'm living with scraps of paper and old celluloid," I think I might have written here somewhere.  "My life is memories."  

I felt a bit like I'd been run over again.  I remembered what I thought had kept me alive.  

The idea of a dry night had flown out the window.  I made a cocktail and lit a cheroot.  I got a text from my old secretary.  

"Can you talk?"

She was upset.  We do not talk on the phone, but sure.  A friend in need. . . .  I'm good like that.  I made her laugh.  I walked her back off the ledge.  We began to reminisce.  Everything had gone to shit since I left, she said.  That is what I am often told, I replied.  Is it hubris if you hear it from others?  But I know in my heart that it is true, and I know why.  She talked about how badly others handled situations.  She talked about how I would, how everything fucked up turned out fine.  I like fixing problems, I said.  It is fun.  I miss fixing people's problems.  You were the best, she said.  Didn't we have fun?  Oh, yes.  We were a great team.  We made people feel good. 

We talked for over an hour, and when we were about to end, she said softly, "I love you."  

"Yea, I love you, too."

It is not a romantic love.  I don't mean it is not romantic, but it is not that kind of romantic.  It is something, though.  

It was after dinnertime now.  I began to prepare my evening meal.  It was raining again, so I ate inside.  There were texts.  

"No dinner pic tonight?"

She described her meal.  

I sent back the video I had been working on.  "This is what I cooked up."

In the old films, I find myriad clues to the creation of the person I would become.  In these brief films, it all seems to be there.  Documents.  The one who writes it, keeps it.  Or records it.  I thought this paired with the other guitar performance I had posted a little while back (link).  

Bookends, of a sort.  

It was already late, near my usual sleeping time.  I poured the evening's first scotch and sat down to continue watching "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."  There is so much.  It is richer on the second viewing.  There is an homage to Carol Kaye, the marvelous female music pioneer, and to Vivian Maier, the great secret photographer.  On second viewing, I realize how incredible the cinematography is.  On second viewing, I become a student.  

I hear the pinging of my phone.  I look up at the clock.  It is nearing midnight, nearing the first day of summer.  I look at my messages.  

"Do you play guitar?"

I send a link to the video linked above.

"Who is singing?"  

Now I'm getting into troubled waters.  Do I share things with emotional ties to my recent past?  What am I doing?  Do I want to do it again?  It is late.  I am not tired.  I am manic.  Fuck it.  I send a link to the song.  I get hearts for the videos of young me, hearts for the song.  I pour another whiskey.  What am I doing, hands on the keyboard?  

"Here is a pic of my shitty wine.  I'm wining. What are you doing?"  

"I'm preparing for Mr. Sandman," I lie.  I am confused all to hell here as spring turns to summer.  

"Good night, then.  Sleep well."  

I send one last video.  Then I pull up a Hank Williams song (link).  The fucker could nail it.  

I shut down the house, go to the bedroom, pick up my guitar.  I am Hank.  Key of E.  

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome, I could cry

I'll never get to sleep tonight, I think.  It is well past midnight.  I take a pill.  Two.  

But sleep won't come, the whole night through.

 My dreams are strange and fitful.  They are what might be expected given the day.  I am haunted by images and memories.  Scraps of paper, old photographs.  What lies ahead feels odd to me, like I am cheating on my past.  Only two women know me now, what I was and what I became after.  No one else can ever know that, those two realities.  Everything from now on. . . .

I wake to roaring, continuous thunder.  The longest day of the year begins with a downpour.  I am too disturbed to lie in bed and think.  I get up and hit the coffee maker.  Morning ablutions, then the first cup.  


"Good morning!"  

The summer storm continues.  

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