The River (NOLA ’06)

There was no sleeping on those nights. I knew this, but still I tried. Laying on my unfolded futon in my tiny room, I could see the faint glow of the full moon through the wooden slats covered by the blue-tarp roof.

The air thick and hot, it wrapped around me like a fever sheet as I finally got out of bed. I stepped the few feet to the kitchen, careful not to bang my toe on anything in the dark, and looked out my favorite window onto the street one floor below. The willow tree that on a breezy day would reach inside was as still as death, as was everything else I could see. The porchlights on the small homes across the street looked like they were shining through a light gauze, and leaning on my kitchen counter, gently pulling the branches of the willow through my hands & loving the feeling of its life, I knew that it was far too hot for me to sleep. I could either fold up my futon, sit down & write, or…

I looked at the clock. Still around 8 hours until I needed to be out at Jackson Square. I liked being there earlier, but definitely no later than 11am for the lunch crowd walking up & down Decatur. I would stand until the storms came through, nearly every day like clockwork around 2:30 or 3, and use that time to either grab a café au lait and beignet’s at Du Monde, or just sit on my milk crate and rest underneath the balcony of the nearest building, reading, writing, and waiting the hour or so it took for the thunder, lightning & rain to move on.

So much, I love the storms. Many times I would just sit there watching the rain splash into puddles of itself, and feel a charge roll through my body & mind as the lightning flashed & thunder rumbled across the sky, through my body. It felt like I was a part of it, and if I wanted to, if only I knew how, I could simply disappear into its magic & become a part of the storm’s passion, leaving everything behind & off to another new adventure…

Still naked, I put on some clothes & my boots, poured some ice-water into my thermos to bring with me, and stepped outside, locking my door behind me. At the top of the stairs I breathed in, and smelled the fragrant still air of the Southern night. Completely relaxed but eager to feel the wind on my face, I quietly walked down the stairs, unlocked my bike, then walked out the front gate on to Esplanade. I thought a few seconds, then realized – I knew exactly where I was going.

It felt beautiful to be riding through the streets. Everyone was inside & the city was still quiet from everyone leaving because of Katrina, so the streets were mine, & mine alone. In no rush to get where I was going, I swerved back & forth from side to side, sometimes riding up on to the sidewalk for a bit then back into the middle of the street, or randomly riding in extended figure 8’ts, at the top of each “8” moving just a little bit more in the direction I was going. The warm wind on my face felt glorious, and feeling so wonderfully light-hearted, knowing these moments were as perfect as they could possibly be, I wanted this one to last as long as it could.

Crossing through Jackson Square Park then Decatur, I smiled & circled around the spot where I would be standing again in just a few hours, visualizing hundreds of people putting 5’s, 10’s & 20’s into my busking box. I was still saving up for a van to get Raven & I to Burning Man, as I’d promised her a ride a month or so before without having a ticket or any way to get us there at the time, but knowing things would work out. In those days, they always did. In those days, I was magic.

There was no one around, so I didn’t bother locking my bike – just laid it down off the sidewalk on the rocks. There was a soft glow from the moon, but still I was proud of myself that I had thought to bring a flashlight as I stepped from rock to rock, down to the river. Finding a good rock to sit on right on the edge of the Mississippi, I saw the cargo ships downriver, silent, still, & peaceful. I couldn’t help but think of what it was like a hundred years ago, remembering all I could of “Huck Finn”. I guess if I ever had a hero, someone I wanted to emulate, it would, without question, be him – with a good helping of Samuel Clemens thrown in for writing & the Gentleman.
Feeling on my face the slightest whisper of a cool breeze coming off the river the full moon giving just enough to see the ripples in the water moving with the current… and as I sat there savoring this perfect solitude, I felt my heart beating and strong, full with the beauty of this life.

Advertisements

Just another beautiful night…

Sometimes life throws you something that you didn’t expect & are better for it. This was one of those nights.

Rose was kind. Kind and wonderful enough to actually PM me and offer to put me on the list, if I wanted. With all the people I know, I hardly know her – but she is the sigle one who approached me without me first asking. I would do anything I could for her because of that. It’s stupid how easily I’m devoted & loyal. I don’t think that’s a fault – at least, not for anyone but me. (Though I kind of think by saying that, I’m now fucked… We’ll see.)

Aaaanyway, I walked from my apartment to Baxtalo Drom (The Lucky Road) – the show she produces and has for quite a while – and in the rare times when I was able to go always had a wonderful time.

Of course, in those times I was lit on morphine, so the times I had, full crowd, amazing performances, all the bells & whistles to make a great evening… were somewhat dulled.
Morphine sucks. (My public service announcement.) (Your welcome.)

Tonight however, my noggin was ALL screwy – sober as hell on the way there, I could barely walk straight. Muscles weren’t working right, mind was jittering like a scratched record – I was a mess. But hell, I looked better that I was and can almost always pull off a little bit of conversation. I made due. No one suspected a damn thing. I’m a pro at this – false smiles were the first thing I learned…

It didn’t take long tonight before the smiles on my face were real, weren’t something contrived. This is what I wrote in my notebook:

“In times like this, I see the fun others are having. Intimate, shared, free.
Regardless of how I’m feeling in mind or body – most times – I do my best to let it contamine me. I begin to honor my smile, I begin to dance. I forget everything but NOW, and there is nothing better than this.”

So yeah, it ended up being a good night. I smiled, danced a bit – and then it was time for me to leave. So I did. Duh. Just felt like it. No good-byes. NEVER good bye..

Until again, if I must say something…

Realizing I had only eaten a bowl of cereal today, and thinking that maybe I should eat something more so the sides of my stomach don;t grind against each other, I decided to do the worst thing imaginable, short of eating a puppy.

Burger King. Bacon Double Cheeseburger. I hang my head as I write that. Good thing I can *almost* touch type. I had to close my eyes.

I ate half, hating myself with every bite – but then, I found at least a bit of redemption. As I walked up 9th street, half a burger in hand, I crossed Market and came upon the Wells Fargo Homeless Troupe. Always there at night, most just kids like I was – when I was.
I offered the still warm 1/2 burger to them, and after a few who said thanks bit no I found one who was willing to eat this crap. Hunger doesn’t let you choose. I felt good & wrong at the same time. It was confusing.

Further up the street I met my 2nd stage of homeless, and though on most every day I walk through them & their really bizarre things for sale, I heard a tune being played on someone’s radio. Didni’t know it, but saw three people dancing.

So I decided to dance with them, and did. WE did.

I find it so beautiful. Regardless of who you are or where you sit or what your situation is…
IF you can let that go, if you can dance with *anyone* – that’s all that matters. That’s all that matters because that will put a smile on your face and light up your fucking heart, and

and welcome back to human. Welcome back to love.

And then I walked another block, turned the corner and was shortly home to Ruby. She was all wiggly ass to see me again. I LOVE that!

I fucking love this life sometimes. Most times.
When I think about how many times I could have taken or lost it, not to experience nights like this…

I love it all times.

And in that, there is magic.