I tear another page out of my book as I look out the window. There is much to say about this nothingness of cars that travel up but not down, of lights in opposite rooms, of compartmentalized living in boxes with windows that look out onto the same streets, the same bicycles and scooters, the same trucks and motorcycles, feet and carts being hauled behind or in front of them, trudging wearily home or brightly out under street lamps that shine sodium bright.
All the dogs seem to be white tonight. White and curly. White and fluffy. White and sleek, pulling wan faced men, hurrying women, trailing bicycles and scooters on eager or reluctant paws. A woman, max factor eyed, stands by the liquor store door, the hazy white foggy haze of the evening gathering around her thickly. The eyeliner drew my eyes to hers in a direct fashion. She waits like she has nowhere to go. She waits like she is waiting for the stars to fall out of the skies, or for a 24 hour energy shot to kick in so she can run into the arms of the waiting dark, but instead she just stands there, one leg kicked up against the wall. There is a taste in my mouth like iron filings or biting the metallic wrapper on a candy bar. This is no place to stand and contemplate life. I turn to peel an orange, dropping the rinds into a bowl, when I turn back, she has left. Maybe she tasted the iron filings in her mouth too. Perhaps she got that deep dread in her bread-basket, that flicker of survival somewhere past the hard cider buzz that softens caution. It is too dangerous to be a woman. It is too difficult, yet there is no opting out of blood and vulnerability, of a fragility born of biology. I have a collection of band shirts. I wear my short hair in a trucker’s cap. I keep my nails short, and my eyes unpainted, but there is no denying the tribe of women I belong to.
For a single second the stars look like they are tumbling out of the sky. A vague fancy rather than a out and out hallucination, a shower of gold in the skies, emptying from the black and blue sky into a shatter of sharply defined light that scatters onto the streets below. Yet there they are, the stars are still hung burning, the moon is on the rise, the night fading into black. Yet there I am sheltered from the darkness by neon and electric, by walls and doors. Unplugged from nature, withdrawn from the wilderness. I miss those quick draw nights unsullied by lamplight, where the night brought in a natural end to the day’s activities. Progress is comfortable and productive. Progress is natural within itself. It is all up in the air. It is all falling down on me, the night and the stars and those forest nights. My little tent must be so lonely without me. The fire pits must miss me. The owls surely mourn the mice attracted by my leavings from hundreds of breakfasts, and instead go to find more productive hunting grounds.
The cars go up but not down. Days go forwards without pause. Time doesn’t so much march as slide forward, week on week, gaining pace as it snowballs. It has always been this way. I can’t help but feel like I am at some ending. Some finish line, but I am not ready, I am not ready.
I realize I haven’t had a drink for almost three years. Not a sip. Not a sniff. Nada. Nothing. Over. I imagine myself sitting on a sofa with a bottle of wine and a joint. It is ludicrous. Maybe that is what is dying slowly: the old hedonistic me, fading away through underuse of misuse.
It is a disappearing. A vanishing trick. A slight of hands and lights and a few tales from Arabian Nights that mingle with the genie that is looking for a smashed bottle and instead curls up about the house like a cat with it’s head on it’s paws, turning circles, a cinnamon roll of a feline shape, after a can of tuna having found a warm spot to doze. I ask it for my wishes, but it is sated and lazy. Pandora’s Box is closed and the painted sigils ward off the spirits – the vodka, the rum and the Flying Goat (noir, pinot not criminal). After all, when the bottle is empty, is ain’t worth a damn anyhow.
And the moon shines despite it all, shines on liquor stores, and weed sellers, it blesses the corner boys and the street hustlers, the pill poppers and the piss takers. It shines on the white dogs, and the non nonchalant women with bottles of hard cider. It shines on my sister across the ocean. It shines on Billy in his hospital bed. It shines on the graves. It shines on the rivers infusing them with soft light that ripples. It fades away in the lamp lights, and intensifies in forests. It shines it shines. It shines on you, and it shines on me. It is almost fat tonight, tipping past the half full, buttery and slick. It almost looks like I could jump into it and swim, dip a ladle into it and drink. No matter, I always preferred flying anyhow.
Let us make it to another morning, and the one after that, tripping down moons and suns and years together. Let us shine! Please, G-d, let us shine.