One thing I've been noticing lately is all the people. I've always known this city was teeming with people -- people who live here, people who work here, and so on. But, for all I've spoken of Emily Dickinson and agoraphobia I didn't realize the precisely how self-centered & insane my Planet Harlem Apartment world had become until just now. 'Cause just now I've been thrust right back into people-world again, all at once and all over, like Dorothy landing in Oz except dirtier and with less choreography.
See, due to circumstances beyond my control (or so I tell myself to make myself feel better) that left me sans-home as of September 1st, I'm currently living in Long Island with Alex and her parents and commuting daily to and from the city for um ... Alex's job. Also, for about six weeks now I've been off the juice. JK ... kinda. More on this later.
Anyhow. In Long Island I wake up at 7, we get on the train at 8:26 so Alex can be at work at 9. By 7 P.M, I'm feeling boring and sleepy. The body beats out of habit, my heart isn't even warm. See, I used to be a superhero and no one could touch me, not even myself.
I felt real good, but what good is it to be a genius superhero if you're going faster than the speed of light towards obliteration.
In the emo cave I was always chasing something, like I was in a race that was also a tape stuck in a loop. The nature of race was clear when I started it; I was racing to keep up with my ex's mania in hopes we'd eventually share a moment or two eye-to-eye.
Time went on, and though my problems changed, my behavior didn't. I wouldn't even notice how much crazy I was talking until someone came over, or a roommate dared utter a word to me. Any word, of course, sounded like "firecracker" or "boo!"
Also, I'm really tired now.
Falling asleep has been easier, but waking up is harder.
After waking up there's breakfast and then rush hour on the train. Once in the city, I've got no apartment to go to so I'm automatically surrounded by people and at their mercy so I'm modeling through the devil's baby in my uterus or vicious allergies. People, people and then more people in theaters, delis, restaurants, jostling for a seat at Starbucks, parking my body & heavy bag on the floor at Penn Station or Barnes & Noble or on Central Park's big wireless lawns where people are running & biking & beaming with beaming bright buoyant bountiful babies in expensive strollers, at the gym at rush hour with the people soaring towards absolutely nowhere like gazelles on thumping slick black exercise machines, and I'm navigating the rocky roads between hunger and longing-withdrawal and the library, the 1 train, the A, the C, the D, the E, the N-R, the 2-3, the 4-5-6. I'll go to Natalie's or see my therapist or when I go to this one job I go to I'll see those people.
The every train, The going and going more, next stop, last stop, stop stop stop.
And when I want to have a fit about something, like how expensive it is in the world, or how many people's cell phone conversations I've been forced to overhear, or how many private acts I've accepted that I must now do in public ... I just can't. I cannot have a fit in my car or my room. I cannot have a fit at all.
In me-me-me world when I needed a fit I'd go lie on my bed & cry & moan and stare at the ceiling hoping to break through and throw or stare or scream sharply at my phone with despair, refreshrefresh refresh inbox (1) fucking a it's the goddamn hrc again. I'd think about breaking walls like I've said before but I never did break any walls 'cause I couldn't afford that kind of security deposit.
It's not that I never left when I lived in P-Harlem because I did. But ... when I did, usually Caitlin would pick me up in a car so I'd avoid all the people, and I always felt safe with Caitlin, wherever we went. And anyhow usually we went places to see other familiar faces.
Those faces were anchors grounding me safely distant from the kind of social anxiety that builds up when you've not spoken to a stranger in days, when you've not only been inside your own head for too long but crawling around in it, building a new library in there and scaling the walls and jumping from its roof. Anyplace unfamiliar gave me paralyzing fear but now that evens out over the day 'cause I'm forced into society so much that each little encounter is no longer The Only Social Interaction With a Stranger of my day. So there's less consciousness and pressure, it's no longer this minute but just the way things are.
At the end of the day I'll see Alex and at Penn Station late at night there's so many people, like the girls who are still wearing the things that girls like that wore in the mid-nineties which makes me feel like nothing changes except the brand of expectation clinging to their longings.
When I read posts from last summer and autumn I can spot the times that I was beetle-buzzing through my own brain like a run-on hornet. Details, linkage, obsessive proof-reading and revisions. Words and more words.
And so I was reading Sam Anderson's obit of David Foster Wallace, and he says this:
I can't -- and don't intend to -- compare myself to Wallace. He's a genius, I'm a weirdo. He's published & famous & legendary, I'm a weirdo.
But I relate to one thing -- I relate to the words upon words. 'Cause when I wrote like that I was certain to not only address my point, but all examples, counterpoints, not only my thesis but yours and all the thoughts I'd ever had about it, and I'd play devil's advocate and people's advocate and lozo's advocate and feminism's advocate and sometimes my own advocate too. I wanted to speak to everyone and I wanted to shoot myself down before you could.
I wonder if DFW felt like his head might explode, if he was tired like I am.
I think it was good to be in my head so completely, like I needed that phase. I needed to live a life that didn't make any sense -- I mean you think you know but you have no idea -- but to me, to my reality (which contained only me & my people) -- it was a cool life. 'Cause you know what? We had a time.
And I'm sure I'll have phases like that again throughout my life, those rushing manic surges that sometimes enrapture an artist to do whatever she can to chase the dragon into dawnlight, towards wherever it is that stars become people and people become poets.
I miss the night-fires, I miss the abandon and the rampant self-destruction. I miss knowing everything wasn't right but not caring because I was so alive, because it was so fun or so vivid or so full or because I hit the streets with all I had. I miss absolving myself of responsibility for myself. I miss the future we used to talk about with such generosity. I miss the stories we believed in and I want to write the ones we never told. I want so many things.