i start out on 44th, after three left hand milk stouts with my friends at Virgil's. i'd never usually be caught dead in times square, on a friday no less, but it was for a friend. we call him cousin, and he has a wonderful laugh that is best called a belly laugh, because he heaves with laughter every time i make a funny. i love cousin, and he just got a raise, so we went out to celebrate.
it was like spring break 2006: me and a bunch of dudes. don't get me wrong, i love men, and it seems like i get along with them just as well (if not better) than with women. well, some women.
with jim morrison crooning about waiting for the sun, i hit 40th street and hang a right, since traffic was speeding across the crosswalk. i tend to walk through new york city in weird patterns, turning when the light changes against me, and speeding up when i can catch the tail end of a walk sign. my path differs almost every time i walk somewhere for a long distance, unless it's from my house to the train, which is the same every time. predictable and unpredictable, sometimes i'm one, sometimes i'm the other.
tonight, the air is on the cusp of letting itself be taken by spring. the last of the frost has melted away, and the rains are coming to take over the city. i see girls carrying long pink umbrellas in plastic sheaths, under the blue sky of the afternoon today. they were all carrying pink bags from USA's biggest lingerie purveyor (if you wear a Double D or more, you better look elsewhere). it's a GWP, or gift with purchase for those of you who have never swooned over the freebies at the clinique counter (duh).
the familiar jazzy electric guitar riff of "peace frog" fills my ear as I hit 7th Avenue, walking west. "blood in the streets, it's up to my ankles," he sings, in an amazing syncopated tone, bursting with emotion. the bass player is killing it in this song... he's holding it down in the nod-my-head and do-a-little-dance-while-i-walk kind of way.
i realize i'm almost home when i pass the corner with the Houndstooth Pub on it. i'm at 37th and 8th, only one avenue block away from my house. one song left, maybe two if I don't take it too fast. so, i purposely slow my pace a bit and wait for the light, while listening to Ship of Fools. is that a keyboard? a hammond? probably the latter - it sounds more and more like one as i listen and continue my walk west.
i wish i could call marie right now and ask her to humor me... "tell me about our time at père lachaise, s'il te plaît," i'd say. but she is in los angeles this week, and i don't want to bother her on vacation with these half-drunken questions.
i think about that day in my head, when i was 18 and she 16, exploring paris like teenage girls should. i wanted to see jim morrison's grave, because i've been a fan of the doors since i was young. i wrote in my journal that his grave had little trinkets lining it, from a joint (tobacco? ehhh, maybe) to a painting of him on a canvas that had rain smears down the front. he looked like he was crying, and it was beautiful in a Ralph Steadman sort of way. I tell marie that my favorite song from the doors was always riders on the storm, but i'd lay on the floor and pretend the sound of the rain was real. i swear i could feel it on my young, freckled skin.
it was here at this cemetery that we meandered through the graves, stopping to put on bright red lipstick and kiss Oscar Wilde's massive white angelic monument. see, he was buried in paris because he was exiled for being gay. even back then i was a fruit fly.
that summer in paris when we were too young to care about anything except our love for each other and my budding love for the city was not as long ago as i think. every day we get farther from it, but i remember a lot, capturing the days in my yellow journal. my handwriting was much better back then - one day marie and i will read the pages to each other and laugh and cry and remember every detail. we will stay up all night and go back to being 16 and 18 again, even just for the the time under the stars.
i'm home now, walking through the rotating doors, feeling the change in air on my face. "hi mike," i smile, after i take off my headphones. he looks up and says hello, but quickly looks away as i step to the left and gather up my mail. now the elevator is coming, and i realize the album isn't quite over, but it was the perfect soundtrack for my way home.
perhaps you and i can take a walk again together soon, with a different album to trigger the good memories.
until then, i remain,