a note on (personal) history
he was really onto something, that playwright who we know to be noteworthy but can’t recall any of his work. his words, yes.
youth is wasted on the young. george bernard shaw.
i’ve heard this before, too: nostalgia stems from the greek word for pain. seems true but would it matter if it wasn’t? whether it’s a correction or a false truth or how i misprinted it in my mind, it’s nonetheless how it registers. memory is nothing if not subjective.
what’s to love about these recollections is that the colors have neither faded nor saturated with time. everything is the same except for the distance. the span between then and now contains just enough airspace to both choke on and call out after those memories.
we had a particular habit come sundays.
after a long night hopping taxis we weren’t yet old enough to drive and slithering into bars that pretended we were. after crashing at someone’s parents’ apartment that was never occupied in favor of connecticut or checking into hotels on cards that were neither paid by us nor glanced at by those who did. after wandering streets with whoever happened to walk out when we did, hazy and thick enough to believe we were alone in our singular experience. after drinking or dropping or smoking just enough to make ours a swaying stance, fighting our self-imposed thinness, acting bold enough to be free while pantomiming the motions of those around us. after we were thoroughly kissed and professed love to by boys whose names sounded like colleges or their grandfathers or long-dead poets.
after all of this.
we’d take brunch someplace nearby and languish for a period before coming back to life. waking up even though our eyes were long wide open. i have to go see my great aunt, one would say. i’ll catch up with you later, another would echo. my mother is coming in to take me shopping, one would call out, already halfway out the door.
the remaining pack would migrate to an open space. the park or bergdorf’s or some empty sidewalk downtown, maybe. but we’d go to the museum - to the temple - never bothering to investigate where dendur actually sat on a map.
sprawled out on the marble ledge, relaying the missed stories centered on truths and half-truths, filling in the blanks for one another all while staring straight up towards the glass roof. sometimes i observed the tourists from some middle state (just like me), never nearly as bad as people characterized them.
it disrupts the narrative when people act as if it’s theirs. a city, any city, as their worldly possession. it wasn’t, it’s not, it never will be. it belongs to everyone and therefore belongs to no one.
not even the figments of the nights prior were ours. either because they couldn’t be recalled under the black blanket of obliteration or because we physically shoved them aside to make room for rational, whole thoughts.
come late afternoon as the train chugged back north, empty save for us, it always rained (or did it?). with and without exaggeration, it was unfailingly gray and wet and tired. like heavy consciouses, weighed down by whatever condensed in the fog of our altered states.
whatever we were attempting to drown in those isolated rivers.
things we quickly pushed to the surface once we reached the estuary where our contained privilege met the rest of the world.
[laura (thunderstorm) / 2007 / ryan mcginley]