14 May 2005

(Red Journal Excerpt 1 - "Making Sense of Home")

The most important thing to remember- especially when life seems strange to an excess presumably only possible in science fiction- is that you are always you, no matter what your overwhelmed mind tries to tell you. When you do, you'll watch everything fall away in slowly melting wax, sometimes burning as it does. Take comfort and pride in your memories, because they are not as far away as you think. You'd be surprised to find they aren't even separate from your now. If we do, in fact, control our lives, I wonder why I've driven into thin air and let natural inertia spin my wheels, closing my eyes and waiting for the tires to finally grip. Instead, I just speed forward even faster.

It's nearly mid-April, and the weather I enjoyed in Thailand's winter is catching up with me as New York's frost lags behind. I lay on the tar of my roof today overlooking midtown Manhattan wondering where it's all going, and where I am within it. I can only gauge my location by what has changed, and I suppose that's nothing and everything- making me fall somewhere between here and nowhere. As these wheels spin underneath me, I see the sky open in all directions at once, and maybe I follow them all. Maybe I returned in mid-January and, as I kissed my girlfriend in the concourse, all the Me(s) split apart and I am left to deal with that enormous goodbye: only I stayed in New York, and the others escaped to new possibilities. And, is that why the life I knew before I left wasn't there when I returned? What changed while I was gone?

I'll never forget walking through customs and into the immaculate arrivals area of JFK Airport. Once again, the signage was all in Roman lettering, and it seemed strangely foreign. I could feel the winter through the windows, and I drowsily scanned the room for her- she was not there. I went to the bathroom and, when I came back to look for her, she descended on the escalator right next to me. She stared tiredly into space looking exactly how she did when I left her, but suddenly she was removed from my construction of her and was showing herself to me for the second first time just like New York did- like everything we leave behind does when we see it again.

It is said that our mind has the exact same activity when we see something as when we remember it, so maybe every time we see someone or something, our mind reconciles what's inside and what's now in front of our eyes, somehow readjusting our memory. The greater the space between the two (our memory and our re-experience), the more difficult and often surreal that process becomes. Why, then, should we be upset to experience culture shock in our home and from the people who create it? Maybe it's the fear that our eyes and minds will take too long to communicate with one another and trick us into believing everything has changed; more likely, it's because everything probably has.

My apartment was cold, and the looming vacate date made every degree it dropped inside- even through the plastic I used to cover our windows- another push away. At first, looking for apartments was fun: scouring craigslist, talking to- or meeting with- realtors, and eventually visiting some places. And then there was the whole low-income-apartment-in-Harlem extravaganza that turned into an unnecessarily frustrating and stressful fiasco, and all the while our apartment was under a brutal siege by mice shitting all over the countertops, our desks, and everywhere we never could have imagined they'd be able to climb. We threw out our couch thinking a mouse hid in its upholstery, and taped shut the door underneath the sink, posting a pink sign warning to keep it closed.

Things with Howard seemed shaky at best, but hadn't they always? Since you returned, you worked twice for him, and attended two parties. There was the Rondo Brothers mailing, the Downtown party at Piano's with the open-bar after-party on St. Marks, Pete Miser's video release at Sugar, and finally, the trashing of the storage space for which Sarah came along. Wasn't there anything you could've done with those countless records, CDs, and random merchandise? "Trash it all," Howard said. If that wasn't a sign, I don't know how it could've been made any clearer.

February was a hard month, and it had its ups and downs, especially with [my girlfriend]. I wish all of the stupid fights we had about our confusion, jealousy, and misunderstandings would've never happened, but I am also glad we went through it all together. Each time, I learned something new and, even though it hurt, I came out the other side feeling more resilient. I had gotten quite sick and she was there taking care of me. It was horrendous at the time, but looking back I can laugh about stupidly taking Tylenol PM during the day and being completely out of my fucking mind in a delusional and exhausted haze.

March brought about some interesting and monumental events, though some were only symbolic. I helped Stuart, Olia, and Kristianne move into a new place on Grand Avenue, four blocks away from the home I once shared with them. It was bittersweet, really. They'd hold Colin's surprise 30th birthday there only days later, the apartment still somewhat littered with boxes and smelling of paint. Depression still came and went, the highs and lows sometimes within hours of each other- like the night of the Interpol concert at Radio City Music Hall: you made an elaborate dinner for [my girlfriend] but were crying too hard to enjoy it, and then you were laughing, drunkenly licking chocolate sauce off of each other, listening to Funkadelic until God knows when.

You saw horrendous apartments with Jamie, and you were so desperate you even considered taking a sixth floor walk-up with no closets, no doors, and worst of all, no bathroom sink! Thank God you got an extension on your apartment.... Everything happened the way it was supposed to. And the apartment started feeling warm again. There were no more mice, there were new decorations going up on the walls, and home seemed to make more sense…