Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Best accompanied by an acoustic guitar and harmonica tinted with the blues

Sometimes I get lost in the poetry of living. I get carried away by the bittersweet melancholy of cliche moments or images.
There are always those scenes in movies and books where the characters do something utterly impractical but wonderfully romantic, like driving down to the river to just sit on the roof of the car and stare at the moonlight on the water, or releasing a silk scarf with sentimental value into the wind just to watch it dance away or tying hundreds or ribbons to a tree, just to sit in it and look at the sky. Sometimes moments like these seem contrived, but they're absolutely essential to the emotional fabric of the piece.
And, I think, to life.

A week and a half ago I moved out of one phase of life.
I've been living with the same group of friends, in the same house, for three years. And a week and a half ago, after graduating, we all moved out. I was the last one to leave. Literally, the last person to lock and close the door, coming full circle. (I had, after all, been the first one to get the keys and enter the house on the first day of our lease three years ago.) Pretty much everyone had emptied out the day before, and so I spent the last night sitting alone in an empty room, in an empty house.

And that was just how I wanted to say goodbye.

I know I'm sentimental and a hopeless romantic. And I love to live the cliches. So I wandered around the empty rooms for a while, flipping on lights and staring at the stark white walls and remembering them filled with laughter. Remembering the time we all jumped on the bed in this room, or the time we tried to fit 12 people on the bed in that room, remembering all the nights we crammed into this room and moaned about studying, all the times I'd drag my guitar into this room for a jam session and all the nights I stayed up until all hours in late-night convo in these rooms. When I was abroad for a year, they sent me a video of the giant spider they found in this bathroom. And I loved falling a sleep in the afternoon sun that came through that window...
I'd stare into a room for five minutes or so and ramble on, sniffling a little.
Then, at some point, I remembered that my life is not really a movie nor does it have an audience and all my theatrics were for naught. So I returned to my room.

I sat in the middle of my room, the with the only light on in the house, on the mattress of my dismantled bed with a half eaten box of take-out food and a half-finished rum and coke and played my guitar over the tinny folk-rock coming from my computer.
It was corny and overly nostalgic, but unlike my earlier mooning around the house, it was spontaneous and genuine and perfect.
I'll always remember that night removed from my body. I see it from the upper corner of the room, above the door, looking down on my own back draped in an over-sized t-shirt and dwarfed by the emptiness of the room, with my head tilted back and belting emotion out to fill my little lighted room engulfed by the thick, cool night and the scattered lights of Berkeley and stars like so many diamonds.

The next day I packed up my mattress and guitar and whatever else was left, closed the door, and moved myself into San Francisco.

And here I am.
I realized two things today: first, life is a series of short stories. Even if I'm not traveling, my life is a series of absurd, screwball and occasionally interesting vignettes. Second, if I don't have an outlet for my need to tell stories, I spend far too much time curled up at my window, staring wistfully out at the wood panels of the house next door because I can't see the stars. I will drown in wist.

Which is, of course, all a very characteristic way of saying "I'm baAAaack!"