14 September 2013

providence

Providence, Rhode Island, ladies and gentlemen: a gloomfest of sad clouds and languid breezes.

Yesterday I experienced what we in the biz call a “non-day,” which is when you don’t go to sleep and then rocket across the Bay Bridge at 5 am with foreign chemicals flaring through your bloodstream and then you get on an airplane and unhappily sit in a small chair for seven hours until you get to Providence, Rhode Island where you wait two hours with a bunch of Patriots fans until a dumpy commuter train arrives to take you to muggy-ass Boston where you transfer to a crowded bus full of college freshman and muscle-head jerks and other morons and you are unceremoniously dumped off in a neighborhood called Allston where you walk a mile in the rain so that you may sleep in total misery on an air mattress in the living room of an acquaintance you barely know who is visibly shaken by how god damn terrible and worn out and fried you look.

Yeah, I had one of those!

I awoke at 6 am to discover that the rain had stopped. Rain, which I had not seen in six months on account of my living in Austin, Texas and Oakland, California (where it is unwelcome or at least fearful of visiting regularly), was one of the few good things to happen last night once I wasn’t walking under the damn stuff. It put me right tp sleep and I was sad to see it had gone away in the morning. But my gracious host (who was named Grace) was leaving, which meant I was leaving too, so she wouldn’t have to explain the continued presence of “that weirdo in the living room” to her poor, frightened roommates. And once I was out the door I knew I would be walking. My sadness subsided—if can ever be said to subside—when I came to senses and realized it was better that my journey be a dry one. And so I promptly ceased my crying and slobbering, in the spirit of keeping things dry, and willed myself from the floor. Grace seemed pleased. She grabbed a mop.

Outside it was gloomy and overcast. I could hardly believe how it made me feel, because it made me feel nostalgic about the East Coast. I sure as hell hadn’t felt that way in some time. And here I had spent the last two years or so paring myself down until there was nothing left—until I was, as the Zen monk I’m staying with just put it, “emanating from emptiness.” I shook my head and dashed the thought (“There’s no going back, old man! And even if you could, you shouldn’t! You wouldn’t! Shut up! Fuck you! Ahhhhh!”). I wandered around Allston for an hour or so, quashing memories as they rose from the ground like weeds, noticing that everyone around me had woken up that day, and maybe every day for all knew, and said, “You know, these pajama bottoms will do just fine for pants.”

Eventually I came upon a place that had been recommended to me by strangers from the internet, a fine little place in Brighton called Cafénation. I stayed there for six whole hours, drinking about a gallon of iced coffee in that time. I worked on this very godforsaken website. I made eyes with a woman across the way, who was writing letters, or maybe just scribbling mindlessly onto a pad of paper. When the kitchen shut down, and the place filled with smoke (still not sure why that happened), I fled, taking the 86 bus to Somerville, which is where the Zen monk lives amongst strangers most of the year.

zengarden

Jon’s “Zen Garden,” where travelers from all over listen to a cool dude talk about cool shit for hours.

But he and I are not strangers: I stayed with him once before, back in December and into January, when 2012 became 2013. He taught me a lot of things back then, and in the few hours I’ve spent with him today he taught me a lot more. He told me that when his brother’s estranged wife took their son away, he told his brother to “imagine him dead.” Why? Because it’s impossible. “You don’t miss him,” he told his brother, “you miss the you with him.” It was important for his brother to realize this.

He also reinforced an idea I’ve been toying with lately, which is that we are all the same person—which is to say we are no one at all. “The concept of ‘I’,” he said, “is ridiculous. It has fled from this brain which is in this body. I’m not there.

Fascinating stuff!

A little while ago, around 2 am, a young woman sent a message to my phone. I had given her a letter on the train from the airport into Providence, largely because I saw her reading The Great Gatsby on the platform, and also because we briefly exchanged glances and I knew within that flash of a moment that we probably felt the same way about a lot of the same things. It turned out to be true, as far as I can tell, because she sounds like a great person. I may “walk around and feel weird” with her (I invited her to do this with me in my letter) when I’m in Providence again tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow I take that poor, ailing train back into Providence so I can go to a festival just north of the city in a place called Pawtucket. Holy lord, maybe it’ll be a good time. It’s called “DUDESMASH,” for God’s sake.

I don’t have a place to stay tomorrow night. Jon, the monk, has the room booked for the 14th, so I have told him I will wander Rhode Island until the sun rises and then take the first train back up to Boston so I can pass out until the late evening, when I am to rise again, this time to see a band I like more than any else, which is Deerhunter.

I have just done some light research, and it seems Pawtucket is less than 40 miles from Boston. I’m not joking when I say I might just walk it. The festival I’m going to, DUDESMASH, will be over by midnight I reckon. If I walk ceaselessly through the strange New England darkness I could arrive in Somerville again in 11 or 12 hours. I’ve done dumber things, that’s for sure.

Stay tuned for news regarding my funeral!