I look back and I think man, I’ve come so far and yet, I wonder to myself, “Where the hell have I been?
I think about the times and the days and nights and the paths I took to get me where I am now. I think about the pain and the glory and the glory and the pain, which I flip-flop because reality has a way of doing this to us. I think about the misrepresentations of life and the ideas that somehow; life has to be a certain way.
I think about the blueprints I followed in both my young life and adult life. These are the so-called drawings we are taught about, which lead us to the path of happiness.
This is what tells us to “Be something,” without the understanding that we already are something.
(Know what I mean?)
Be this. Be that.
Be married. Find a life.
Buy a house. Find a career.
Be straight. Be thorough.
Be the person you are taught to be and not as you are.
Be the blueprint you’ve been given and be sure to be beautiful because no one wants you unless you’re beautiful.
But wait — what if the blueprint doesn’t fit?
What if I build a house to suit this life but the life I chose wasn’t really mine to begin with?
To be honest, this is why people want to run away more as an adult than they ever did as a kid.
I think about the way things were. I think about the parks like Central, or Washington Square, Gramercy, or Battery, or the little place I sat in downtown by the cobblestone streets.
I sat on a park bench with concrete sides and green wooden slats. I was there before sunset in the City, by myself, and close to the basketball courts that held an afternoon pickup game.
There was me, sitting with all the world on my shoulders and wondering about something coming my way. I was about to be an unplanned father after an unplanned connection made by an unplanned fling that resulted this way.
I sat down to contemplate the next chapter, which was huge to me.
Was this me?
Was any of this real?
Or is this just life and I was caught in the underbelly of the cycle again?
I wondered if this was the way life was supposed to be. Does this happen to others — do the unavoidable and inexplicable terms of fate happen to us all, but yet, when you’re young you lose sight of this and take things personal — or was this absolutely personal and someone somewhere didn’t like me?
There was a hole in the background where I sat, which was literally a hole in the sky. This is where two of the tallest buildings used to stand — call them what you will, The Towers, The World Trade. I call this the place of the hopes and souls and lost heroes that were never to be heard from again.
I was there to see this back then and I am still here to see this now — although as changed as it is, different because of the upgrades and facelifts, there has always been a love affair between me and my City.
The nights out with the boys were changing. I was changing but moreover, life was changing too and none of this was clear to me. Then again, what is clear when you’re young and on the verge of the unknown.
Nothing is really clear when it comes to real life. Life’s surprises are unavoidable no matter who you are. Maybe I was too misled to understand. or maybe this was just frustration because nobody told me what to look for. All I had were a set of blueprints. “Now, go build your life kid!”
There was a walk I took after sitting in the park. There was a girl I saw at the time. She lived down by the cobblestones on the West by Horatio Street. I couldn’t believe how mismatched we were.
I remember the ideas I had of walking away. I remember the ideas of what would happen if I were to stand up and walk away. I wanted to get away from my group of friends and the people I knew at the time. I wondered what it would be like to stand up in the middle of everything and pull myself away from the table, push my chair back in, and then walk away without saying a word.
I would get if their faces turned awkward, as if to wonder, “Where’s he going?” but I’d never look back to entertain their curiosity. And just like that, I could be gone.
There was something out there for me. I knew this. I knew there was a life out there somewhere, but where?
I knew there was something waiting.
Was it love? Was it value?
The truth is I didn’t know.
Was it art?
This could have been the case but I was too afraid to nurture this back then. It was too risky and too daring. Besides, who would care? Who would listen? Better yet, who would read something from someone like me?
I remember there were little glitters of moments, in which I felt the spark come on. I remember walking away and thinking, I could leave now and never come back. I could start all over. I thought this was brave but no, this would have been heroic.
There were nights I tried and there I was, walking in the summer moonlight with the Hudson by my side. Across the river was Jersey, which was more like a different country to me. I walked and I thought. I felt and I dreamt.
My City allows for moments like this. I used to see them as tiny glimpses of amnesty whereas, this me, here, searching for a sense of pardon and personal resurrection.
I was walking and thinking about the greats like O’Hara and Carroll, Kerouac, and Burroughs, and the tortured soul that comes with being an artist and a writer.
I thought about Jonathan Larson and how he died before his play opened up. The play was called Rent, in case no one knows.
I thought about the song Seasons of Love, which starts out with the number 525,600 minutes. This is the number of minutes in a year.
I thought about the face of life and the ever-changing, ever elusive dreams that come to us; only, there was no call for them on the blueprints we were given.
I thought about my heart and my desire and the yearning I had — I thought about the need to “Be” and the drive I felt to be “Heard,” and make a mark on the scene.
Would I? Could I?
I thought about the lives of people I knew and the wasted talent of those who died needlessly or lovelessly. I thought about the friends I had lost in The Towers. I thought about the life I was about to embark on, wishing I had the guts to reach, but yet, I was too afraid. I thought about the whirring sounds of life passing by and wondered if this were some kind of crazy taxi ride or was it just another day above the ground?
I walked down by the places that no one speaks about, but yet, we all know they exist. Keep in mind, this is the Downtown scene, so, skip the judgement and accept things for as they are.
I walked by creepshow mobs, the freaks, the tiny after-hours places, and the little whisper joints where people go and pay for their private little episodes— this happens with sexually explicit transactions that goes on between tricks and fetishes. These are the secrets that people keep to themselves. But hey, the City never tells.
I remember thinking to myself. Wishing and dreaming.
I told myself:
So let it be this way, okay?
Wild and crazy and young like the way we used to be, remember?
Let it be the way it is now. This is what I hoped for.
To stay young and be young or at least resilient.
This was just a conversation in my head.
Let it be the way it was when nightfall came and the city lights were as bright as could be. Let it be the way it was when I was walking down by 9th, by 14th without anyone to bother me.
For the moment I was fine to be me. I was fine to be by myself and not feel alone; I was fine to see the world through my eyes without the need for outside persuasion. More to the point, I was fine to find my own blueprint because to hell with conformity. It’s underrated if you ask me.
I wanted it to be this way. Music was real. The nightlife was the only thing that mattered. I worked hard to play even harder.
I never slept. I never cared about tomorrow because tomorrow wasn’t real to me. Tomorrow is something for old people to worry about. I could have dared everything because I had nothing else to lose. I had it all yet, I had absolutely nothing.
I could have gone anywhere or done anything. I could have made a switch and turned around. I could have started my life over and nothing would have suffered because this is the freedom of youth.
This is the angst of the mind and journey we go through. This is also why the older looks at the younger and says youth is wasted on the young.
“Just do it!”
Let it be like this. Let it be a memory. Let it be a night out with the boys. Let this be something that comes up out of nowhere and suddenly, I’m hit by a memory because a random song plays on the radio to remind me where I was at this time 20 years ago.
Is it me? Am I the only one? Am I the only one that remembers that hot dog cart outside of The Limelight at 4 in the morning. Does anyone remember the all-night diner on Avenue A? I remember Stingy LuLu’s on St. Marks.
I remember the 525,600 minutes and the seasons of my past. I remember the angst and above anything, I remember the recovery of the moment. I understand the special verity of living to the potential of your soul.
Verity – [Ver-i-tee] The state or quality of being true.
I love this word.
That song, Season of Love — this is the idea of love and the idea of living regardless of what happens; this means to take a shot, to try, and to give literally everything you have, and to be, to think, to do, because this is all there is in this crazy world.
Make no mistake, to be you is all there is. There is pain. There is strife and sadness but there is life in our lungs and desire in our hearts.
There will be fallouts and aftermath. There will be times of greatness and times of passion and there will be the victories, whether quick or monumental, and no matter what, there will always be 525,600 minutes in a year. Not all of them will be great. So brace yourself.
I was 28 when I heard this.
I was a kid.
As of now, as I write this draft, we are 318,646 minutes into 2020. This means I have 206,954 minutes left until this year ends. I know this has been tough for all of us. I know there are so many things we had planned on but life happened again.
I can’t do anything about the 318,646 minutes which is not 318,648. But I have another 206,952 minutes left to make something happen. I can’t do anything about the pain either, except feel it and work through the noise while I build my life. It hurts sometimes. But we live and we survive and when the time comes, we celebrate because we never gave up.
This is love.
By the way, I received word that someone is going to pick up one of my programs.
I sold it.
Thank you Mr. Larson
I owe ya one.