There is an idea I have been rewriting for a long time now. The shape is different and so is the flow. I suppose the prose changes whenever I change but yet, the core is the same. The body is the same too, just older, like I am now, older, but still me and deep down, coming clearer, the more I revisit this idea, the more I capture my growth:
Rain comes and somehow the world we knew becomes something else. Everyone runs for cover to hide from the downpour. But me, I stand alone, looking through a window and out into the world, watching the rainfall and reflecting upon my life. I am looking through the same eyes as always, yet somehow, everything is different to me.
Or maybe nothing is different at all (except for me) and aside from the landscapes, the only thing that really changes is my way of looking at life, which has apparently outgrown my expectations. Or perhaps I have just outgrown my old perspective, which could be the case.
I don’t see things the same way anymore. Confidentially, neither do you. Neither does anyone.
No one sees what we saw and who knows if anyone sees what I see now (or if anyone even cares.)
And I find myself asking, “What happened to wonder?”
“What happened to good old interaction and hand holding?”
More accurately, “Is there even such a thing as romance anymore?”
I remember a young couple on one of the express trains that went from Brooklyn to the Bronx, back and forth, all day long. They were of teenage kids, one boy and one girl, but to spare the idea of pronoun trouble or any identification, I will just go on as follows. They were two kids that brought a picnic basket on the subway. This was a date.
I noticed them and thought to myself, “Good.” Because this means love isn’t dead and neither is romance or the idea of being resourceful.
In fact, everything changes. Even Socrates said this. He also said “Change is law and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”
Not a single cell in our body is the same as it was, say, like seven years ago (let alone, 17 years ago, or like say, when the year 1999 became the year 2000)
But some things will never change —like the lights from the streetlamps and how they glow with halos around them, which take on the shape of misty rainbow circles that hover around the pendant globes of soft white light. Nothing will ever change the taste of nostalgia.
Nothing changes the sound of car tires that drive down a quiet street in the rain —and nothing changes the mood like a rainfall with the streetlamps reaching over the cobblestones in Downtown, Manhattan.
The streets, abandoned, like desolate riddles, and meanwhile I think to myself, does anyone even remember the old places downtown anymore like Emerald City, or wait no, The Sound factory?
Do you remember The Limelight? It’s not the same anymore. The building is still there. I used to pass by every so often but not anymore. This place means different things to different people.
(I wish I saw you there one night. We could have met then.)
It isn’t so bad that I feel this way, the nostalgia, I mean —to change or to see the person I’ve grown into or to recognize the time the year which is about to expire. We are about to turn one decade into another number.
The world I live in has changed. As a matter of fact, everything changes which means Socrates was right.
Life changes and no amount of pretending will avoid this fact.
I’ve changed and so have you. Or should I say we’ve only just evolved, you and me? Should I say we’ve grown into something better?
And it’s good this way. It’s good that we can look back and shake our heads with a smile. This means we’ve lived. This means we’ve survived. We have grown and yesterday was nothing but a moment in time, which hopefully, we learned our lesson.
This doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel young or be a kid, like we used to be (remember?) This doesn’t mean I’ve given in or set aside these dreams of mine. No, the truth is I still have them. I still work on them every day.
This doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it feels like to walk down Avenue A or head down St Marks, which, to be honest, has changed altogether.
But either way, that’s not what I’m saying at all. The scene has changed and so have I. But the mood is still there and the feeling I have in my heart is no different from when I was there, back in the day, when the lights were brighter and time was on my side.
It’s only age, you know?
It’s like a song I was told to listen to during a rough time in my life, song by none other than Mr. Garcia, himself, which says, “It’s just a box of rain. I don’t know who put it there. Believe it if you need it or leave it of you dare.”
I have not and will not forget the times that I spent downtown on cobblestone streets by 14th and 9th or the time I was down by the meatpacking district. I think there is a sushi place there now. Either way, this area used to change quite a bit after sundown in the summer.
Long-legged women offered their friendship for money —only, the truth is none of them were considered women on their birth certificate.
The truth is they had an extra surprise but somehow, I don’t think their patrons were surprised at all.
I remember the time I saw one of the younger women —or should I say, “So-called” women approach a young man on the street.
She offered him some attention, to which, he replied “Do I look like I need to pay for sex?”
The year was 1999 and I was new to a job that was only supposed to be temporary until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
She laughed at him, looked at him up and down, and told him to “Run along,” because she knew he was scared.
I was at a place called Markt, which was across the way. And God, that was more than 20 years ago now. I was an entirely different person then. So were you, for that matter. I was still a dreamer though (same as I am now.)
I remember walking around the downtown spots and wondered if I was anywhere near the places Frank O’Hara or Jim Carroll would go to do their spoken words or read their poetry.
And hell, maybe this was a possibility. Maybe I could have given this a shot back then, but hell, I was too afraid to talk about my art, or God forbid, tell anyone about my poetry.
(Thank God for changes, right?)
I remember the long, crazy nights I spent in SoHo, walking alone down Mercer or Broome St, wondering where I’ll be in 20 years —and here I am, more than 20 years older, still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life.
This does not mean I’ve forgotten the drive or desire to feel young —this doesn’t mean that I don’t remember what it means to feel perfectly disconnected or unattached.
Everything was free back then. But the truth is nothing was ever free. We only thought it was.
Everything we do in life comes with a contract, only, oftentimes we forget to read the fine print, which is the part that explains how life is a loan, and like it is with all loans, there is always interest on the principal —either way, we all have to pay, and like I said before, either way, nothing is ever free.
But dig it:
Me as I am now means that I can smile and say, “I remember those days,” and if I choose to, I can relive the memory, which means I paid already. In fact, I paid with interest, ten times over, which means I’ve earned my seat.
I don’t regret yesterday anymore. I don’t regret the things I’ve done because regret does nothing except bring more regret.
In order to grow, I had to learn to appreciate my past so that I can become the man I am today and then some.
But ah, the City . . .
She knows all my crazy little secrets (just like you do)
But see, the city never tells (and neither do you)
This is why I’ll always love her.
The city, I mean.
And this is why I will always love you too.