Rough patch, these past few days.
Sometimes, things fall apart: you try to catch the pieces, before it goes too far, while you still can.
A moment of clarity descends; you say: enough of this, and the tragedy is that you stop, far too easily, until the next time, until perhaps there is no next time left. The time when Gibreel finally flies away, without looking back.
I woke up this morning at dawn, not as bleary-eyed as yesterday, but still far from good. Made coffee; brushed my teeth; washed my face; listened to my better instincts, the ones that say you’re more than this, the ones that say you don’t have to keep feeling like this, the ones that say you aren’t flying solo: Gibreel is there, as always, by your side, protecting you — though I can’t fathom why he hasn’t abandoned me already.
Someone from overseas emailed me yesterday. He was the younger brother of a girl I was mad about as a boy, a girl whom I met again by chance in my mid 20s. We attempted to have sex one night at a friend’s walkup studio near Rockfeller Center, but I was too buzzed, and she didn’t care for my low ambition (by way of contrast, she would soon become a bigwig wanker banker, based in London of course) and jejune conversation, and it wasn’t any good, partly because I found her wiry, naked body oddly simian (no, this is not some veiled racist or sexist aside), almost as if it didn’t belong to the samra girl I once romanced by riding my bicycle to her bedroom balcony in Zamalek, on lazy afternoons along the river Nile. I never saw her again after that unfortunate episode on 48th st.
Now this brother emails me out of the blue. He wants to know the inside scoop of a band that I founded at 15. He wants to know a lot of things about that time, which he describes as “ancient history.” I beg off; and politely wish him and that girl all the best.
In a few moments, the Morning Joe show will come on the telly. They will rail, no doubt, for the millionth time against Trump. There will be solemn hand wringing about the looming civil war in America, probably not so solemn a discussion about a Finish politician whose career may now be finished, and possibly some banter about the Yankees and Bosox. They will say many Americans feel our best days are behind us, that the country is not going in the right direction, and so on, and so forth, inconclusively, because gabbing is how they pay the rent, nothing more, if truth be told.
I’m not a huge fan of revanchist, whataboutist rants, but, seriously, what about Pakistan, or Gaza, or Brazil, or the Ukraine? What about the droughts, disappearing Greenland, the thundering herds at the border, or the filthy rich gerontocracy that rules America via rivers of dark money that tilt the pinball machine? Who is solving all the problems of the world, especially now that the diminutive Dr. Fauci is gone? Is it only the loud, pathetic drunk at the end of the bar who claims to have all the answers who gets heard, or can candidates of quality — per our boy Mitch, who ironically lacks any such distinction — finally step to the fore?
And why do so many still heed the odious palaver of the grifter from Queens? Have most of us abdicated our role as responsible citizens, going for small beer wins, instead of taking the drastic action needed to save a planet that’s hurtling towards oblivion? It’s far too hopeless, too complicated, so let’s just look the other way, as the house burns, and mediocrity prevails across much of the land. The judgement of future historians awaits: when there was still time to sober up, they will conclude, we went on some collective bender and turned into the worst possible generation, perhaps more aptly described as degeneration, a collection of irresponsible power-mad barflies, vainglorious Old Glory hucksters who specialize in scamming credulous Believe-the-Lie social rejects, the same ones who failed to catch the aproned publican with the black arm bands, slicked-back hair and walrus mustache in The Last Chance saloon announce Time.
I have been traveling solo in NY since August 3rd. No wife, no dog, no serious-minded intent about anything. I am living by myself in this big, well-kept house in Manhattan suburbia. I speak to no one but my wife (who remained in Florida to care for poochie, and, not incidentally, to take a so-called break from the state of constant presence that can suffocate a long-term marriage, unless one goes off on periodic sabbaticals, the one you take before your beloved turns into a tedious monster), on the phone, sometimes twice a day, sometimes not at all.
Tonight the NY Jets play the Falcons. I look forward to watching the game. But I need to right the ship. Things can’t go on like this. It’s time to end the chaos. It’s time to escape the self-imposed isolation, of being permanently besotted while endlessly listening to Tiny Dancer on YouTube — the increasingly grim ruminations of an old man with dim prospects.
But hey, I woke up today not dead.
Things are looking up.
Maybe today I’ll actually shave, take a shower, and walk down the hill to get some bagels.
It might even rain.