If you’re reading this while its dark outside, look up at the sky and tell me, what you see. Do you see the stars or are they masked by a bright haze from the lights below?
A little over a decade ago, I lived in the tangled mass of light by choice. I adored the stars, but I required the constant neon light too…I fed from that ever present energy, the promise that not all life shut off their televisions, put down their books, removed their eyeglasses and turned off their bedside light before hiding away from the night beneath their heavy blankets. But on most nights, rather than sitting by my window watching the nighttime world slither along the sidewalks, or the traffic lights change color in their monotonous patterns, I would leave the neon haze behind for a while to ride into the country side, leaving the security of the brightness behind, driving away from the world that refused, (just like I refused), to sleep. I went out hunting for something that I still can not fathom… that thing that filled the empty space like nothing else can.
Watching the light in the rear view mirror growing smaller and smaller, I rode into the darkness, where shadows along the small country roads danced through the trees, relying upon my imagination to name them-those mad, dark things dancing & riding along side of the car, most too far away to touch, but some certainly within reach of my open window…and then suddenly, my attention would be drawn upward to…those patterns, the endless beautiful patterns of stars, hanging above me as I opened my mind and allowed the stories, the phrases and sometimes even the letters to emerge and I would mind-type volumes on those dark roads…and for a brief time, I was whole, the night and those stars were my company, the volume of the music* drowning out the drone of the motor, the wind pulling, separating and playfully tangling my hair, I could close my eyes, rest my head against the seat and fly though the night, accompanied by those ever-present ghosts and the promise of the next night and the night after… and the seemingly countless nights spent very much the same as this one.
And just as the dawn began to paint the sky in colors too complex, too beautifully impossible to name, I would ride back to the beloved city, with her endless noise, heavy scent and that steady,determined pulse to fall asleep wrapped in the warmth of early light and an understanding that was forever surrounding me.
And then, I slipped and somehow I fell into this empty place, where the neon lights are far too weak to reach the sky, and sadly, the stars are unwilling to shine brightly and gone are my endless nights of the wind running its exquisite cold fingers through my hair and the promise of the pink dawn carrying me back home into the warm womb where I would sleep, and dream those easy dreams and then awake, ready to venture out into the darkness again- with the stars, the mass of light in the rear view, and my ghosts running through the trees along the rough roadside.
In this place, the sky is hollow, the wind is too weak to move my hair and the ghosts have forgotten how to dance in my peripheral vision. Now, the only hint of life is the slow hum of the expressway and the sparse nocturnal traffic…Sometimes, though not often enough, I like to stand on the overpass, directly in the middle of the north and south lanes and feel like I have an option, like the choice is mine again, the direction I will take is my choice… I close my eyes and wait for the wind to come, for my mind to open to the muse and be carried once again by complete rapturous abandon…filling my soul with those stories, those words, those ticklish phrases that make the beloved kindred spirits smile in understanding. But instead, the aching realization that I am still here, with these heavy, heavy boots and my pockets so impossibly full of responsibility that greedily laps the days away and heartlessly sleeps through my precious night… and again, I am pulled back into my tiny cell, away from the world that I once wrapped myself so passionately around.
A few nights ago, I listened as my 21 year-old Magnum Opus tried to explain the discontent he was suffering with, that despite achieving some of the things he had so longed to achieve…to take a step out into that other world, (where I’ve found that art, nor most beauty ever bother to tread), he feels empty…or perhaps not so much empty as unfulfilled…and as I listened to his sad complaints, I was reminded of a phrase that both he and I instantly adapted upon discovering it so long ago in Jonathan Safron Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close:
“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
And though I had always wondered if our shared fondness for this quote meant that he would grow up to be like me, I now know for certain…I have not only passed on the dark, dark eyes with the ever-present hint of something much more than what we appear to be thinking or feeling, but also I have passed along the Gypsy heart ** that refuses to oblige, to sleep when others sleep, to settle for mock comfort like so many do, to laugh and love in only the same manner that others force themselves to. I have passed on the insatiable need for something more, and just like for me and obviously my father before, this means a lifetime of deeper quests…the expectation of bigger emotions, and of the empty spaces that dare to be found and filled…So now at this moment, here I sit, remembering those endless nights beneath the stars but also feeling these empty spaces, the spaces that are rarely discovered, much less embraced, and so whether this hunger I have passed on is a curse or a blessing, (perhaps both?) I can not decide just yet . For now, it simply is what it is, like so many other things I’ve come to discover. But oh, the empty spaces, these damned empty spaces…
* Drowning the drone and summoning the muse:
** For the Gypsy hearts-A Different Drum:
P.S. Thank U, M for bringing the sea to me. I treasure you and your kindness, and hope to repay you for what you continue to give me .
My Absolute Love & Slightly Cynical Smile,