2003-02-05 15:53:23 ET|
A MILLION BILLION TRILLION POINTS IF YOU READ THIS.
The Nausea has me, I think. I squirm in my chair, my boss is flapping his jaw. For a moment, i can see the strings that pull at his movements - the sunlight through the window has caught and betrayed them, and i know that this is just a game of patience. I look outside to the train tracks and feel the magnet pulling me. I only have forty minutes. Something about the desparation clawing at the insides of my ribcage must have been betrayed by my eyes because he is letting me leave early.
I have to see you. The questions are secondary to the fact. The hunger. The fear that it will be months - suddenly my stomach lurches. He has removed the hook. I can leave now. Jump back into the rivers of steel and luck and pray that the wound closes before the sharks find me.
I swim through the lowest forms of humanity as I throw my jacket over my shoulders and exit the lobby. The second I am down the stairs and out the building I run, oxygen tearing through my lungs, unwanted, freezing. I stop at the intersection, scan for buses, make a judgement call. This time, I am lucky. Eight minutes later I am in the Kew Gardens subway station, convinced you will never know who I really was. Or maybe you did, and i am fooling myself.
Either way, I will never get the chance to tell you because at this moment in time I do not own a voice. I have breath - I can see it in front of me in the subway tunnel - but no voice to match it with. No way to tell you all the things I want to say - and even if I had a voice I'd still have no time.
My stomach squirms and I fidget anxiously, staring at the clock, every second passing for infinity, every rumble beneath the concrete signaling the possibility of hope. The E train will take me straight to the heart of the beast, to Gate Seventy of the Port Authority bus terminal, where your bus is waiting. That is, if it ever comes.
Someone asks me what time it is. I stare back at them, dumbly, unable to speak. This happened this morning too- took me by surprise aas I tried to order my usual breakfast. What came out was something inbetween a squeak and a whisper. Fortunately, I am a creature of habit or else I would be chasing you on an empty stomach.
Is it possible for me to convey everything I mean to say to you in a look? I think... perhaps it was, in the beginning... but time and complexities have filled our line with all the unnecessary static its wires can hold. I had no time to make the CD for you this morning (I wanted music because nowadays there is no other way to reach you). I don't have the clothes or the circuit bent keyboard you left at my house. Hell, I dont even have an excuse, let alone a voice to speak it with.
Only a notebook, and a pen (yours?). The train has come. I am trying to ease my nerves scratching out my last words to you on graph paper. i make it yet another one of my stream-of-consciousness letters.. halfway in an attempt to calm the screaming monolog in my head. It is all i have to give to you; i didn't even have the time to pick up the Coil shirt you wanted... And if it's one thing I've learned this year--its not the thought that counts, its the action.
I am furiously scrawling as the train screams down the long dark Queens underground, still agonizing as my ears pop with underwater air pressure, still choosing the words when we hit Manhattan.
I want to ask someone the time but remember I can't; I have no voice and no desire to know how fucked this mission is. I explode from the side of the train in a flurry of black leather, graph paper, and tumbling regret, thanking god I know these major stations like the scarred backs of my hands. The soundtrack of my life skips in my headphones and my heart lurches inmy chest as I jump over the turnstile and slide into the filthy 42nd Street terminal. The old man behind the glass at the Greyhound counter takes an interminably long time to press the buttons that will tell me if I have failed. For a moment, my whole universe rests in his arthritic hands.
I have not.
I duck beneath the velvet ropes and sprint for the escalator; for a short instant a shard of memory nearly trips me and ruins it.
It is nighttime on 42nd Street, and we are in the Port Authority Duane Reade, slightly drunk, slightly high, very happy... trying to score some alcohol for scene legend Genesis P.Orridge. This was the happiest night of our time together, I think. The sky was black velvet and every light in the city smiled straight at us like electric stewardesses. The Port Authority has no sense of time; it is always brightly lit and filthy. If I use my imagination, I can believe that outside is stardust and streetlights and I have not come here to tell you goodbye.
All this is a lens flare in the corner of my eye, disappearing down the escalators, subterranean. There the gate is -- empty. Sixty-nine and Seventy-one full of movie extras, dull cow eyes, all staring at me as if I am a wolf late for dinner. I see the door, leading out to the terminal. Unguarded. I have come so far-- I pace for about fifteen seconds, napoleon-esque. I am making them nervous. I am making myself nervous. Somewhere, a bus driver turns the keys in the ignition. Fuck it.
My black gloves reach for the doorknob like a murderer's, and then I am on the other side -- in the gasoline scented oil-stained guts of my own fear. 'I am not afraid', I had written in the note which now lays dormant in my pocket. More lies on paper, more nightmares on wax. Today I have stopped lying. Today I have learned something. I am afraid... but guess what... It doesn't matter.
The gravity of this simple truth has already made my knees weak by the time I have talked the bus driver into letting me on. I can only imagine how I look as I board-- like some kind of crazy manhattanite strung out on coke and plummeting tech stocks. I search the faces on the bus-- more extras-- and for a moment feel guilty for the bus driver and the window clerk. They had been so kind to me-- I'm sure I had the air about me of someone who was about to achieve something great, if only I am given This One Last Chance. Find my long lost twin, stop the bomb, switch the suitcase with the diamonds, maybe even win you back. One moment to change the course of a lifetime, one moment we would thank these strangers for from behind a picket fence in a distant future.
But the sad truth is that even I can't fully explain why I brought myself here. There is, after all, nothing left to say, is there? And the boy asleep in the fourth row only looks like you from one angle. The air hangs heavy with a question mark that so many things cling to - sanity, logic, pride, hope, shame. The sleepy colors of the bus interior make me want to turn back, go home, slip into a coma... And then i find you.
My heart stops. It's like I'm seeing you for the first time. For once in my life, words, my art, my anaesthetic, my chosen companions, fail me utterly. But my voice doesn't.
"Hey there." Miraculous. What happened? You stare at me, bewildered, almost frightened. You must think me a ghost. An eternity passes.
"You're insane!!!!!" We embrace and laugh, awkwardly. I want to sit next to you, I want to take the bus to Philly to keep you company and ride the train back. I want so many things but they can all wait because the thing that I wanted the most -- to see your face before you left-- is now a reality.
I'm here... Now what?
To tell you the truth, I can't even remember what the official reason was I gave you for coming all the way here. And you'll never know how sharp and compelling the drive that brought me to you was - how it twisted like a knife in my belly until I broke from my cage of habit, following the umbilical cord that once tied us together in embryonic bliss. You'll never know about each tiny miracle that formed this chain of hope, this silver cord I followed through the dark and to your side.
The engines have started. We are in the final moments-- the barman gives the last call and I drink you in greedily because I know what a long night i have ahead of me. And truthfully, I am still suspended in disbelief that I am here, and can hold you. That you exist. This is the bad thing about 21st century living--although in its prime, it was a flesh and blood living thing, our love ultimately began and ended over miles of wire, packets of data, zeroes and ones. Digits. In a way this moment is terrifying because it flies in the face of neo-nature and the Prescribed Natural Ending. The nastiest email in the world cannot possibly bear the weight of a final longing glance, even the most fumbled goodbye hug puts it to shame.
What happened next will always remain a blur of could-have's and what-if's. I will always remember how it felt to hold your precious head in my hands, warm and alive. Still bewildered- as i kissed you on the forehead (so soft) and gave you the note I had written. A kiss on the forehead, nothing more... because love can take on as many shapes as there are places, and because everything I ever needed to tell you is not transmitted by pen and ink, or wires, or words, but by touch. Warm, and real, and fleeting. As I turned to leave, you asked me "you're going?" as if you had wanted me to stay. As if there were something else that needed to be done. These two words wounded me, deep... I probably could have stolen a few more minutes with you if I had wanted but at this point I was so terrified that I could think of nothing but escaping the bus. One last glance at you.. a new piercing, a few things different-- but overall the same person i came to fathom months ago across the tendrils of electric dreams. You return to your headphones, your music, your true home... And I jostle my way off the bus, clumsily, happy that you aren't paying attention. I want you to remember me as a magician, as a writer, as a god... not as a clumsy, crying, mortally ill girl coughing out self-pity from broken lungs.
On the way back up my sense of direction grows twisted and vague due to exhaustion. Every exit is blocked off, every entrance off-limits. But time doesn't matter anymore, and besides, if I'm wandering lost in the tunnels underneath Port Authority, there is a .00001% chance you will find me, hold me, tell me you've changed your mind. Wake me from this nightmare. But i know for a fact, when i finally find the surface, the bus will have left, so i dawdle for one more minute, buying water, buying time... And then the reality of how silly I'm being strikes me. I already communicated to you the one thing that somehow got left out for weeks and forgotten. The one thing I had to say -- I said it just by showing up. Just by being there. And in the face of the simple reality that i care about you... time is a joke. Weeks, months, years... mean nothing to the human heart. Time is a foreign language that falls on deaf ears when the right music is playing.
I take one last look over my shoulder and into the terminal, where I am certain you won't be-- and open the doors to an outside of chaos and light, skyscrapers and streets filled with strangers, neon dreams and broken glass, knowing where I belong, ready to make my next mistake.
February 5th, 2003.