oh happy flashback (part II)

in the gentle drizzle, i wandered and soaked. i had never really dried off from the shower, so the rain just extended my sogginess. i rather liked it though; it kept me cool in the dusk on the roof. the pitter patter of the rain on the tar-top sounded like soft fingertips gently worrying themselves across the kitchen table. it was a comforting din that worked its way through the thick july air. it acted like insulation for the rest of the rooftop goings-on. for a while, that tap-tap-tapping was all i heard. but then, subtle sounds started to sneak their way in.

the clicks and snaps of a loosely rigged tarp in the wind poked through like thumbtacks; shelter from the raindrops. i was near the makeshift stairway when i became aware of these new sounds. hearing them, my ears perked up a bit. i was curious to see what or who else might be up here with me. and, as i listened harder, i crept up closer--through the awkward passageway between exhaust vents and steampipes, over the moldy planks. i heard the baritone of a man's voice, the soft soprano of his companion, and then suddenly the sharp alto of Elayna.

her voice was familiar to me for, as is usually the case, the walls of our stacked apartments are quite thin. and, in the mornings as i worked through my *régime*, i would wind up moving to the soundtrack of Elayna's laughter ...or her tears. brushing my teeth, i was privvy to her good days and her bad ones. and, a parent's frustration of not being able to predict which day it would be this morning or the next. it's a difficult way to become acquainted since you never really meet but nevertheless remain an observer to what are thought to be intimate moments.

it's like sound or light. humans are limited in their ability to appreciate the full spectrum of things that exist in the world. to wit: a dog can hear more frequencies of sound than both you or i. still other animals are able to register frequencies of light that are elseways imperceptible to us. normally, we operate within the most basic range of frequencies. and these are the parts of ourselves we put forth: the average of all frequencies, satisfactorily harmonious. however, in private, we can become beasts of lust or anger or sorrow. in these throes, we become something else. and so, we employ frequencies otherwise reserved for more primal creatures. these are sides of ourselves we never intend to let out of their cages; we keep them locked up for good reason. when they do escape, it's not for others' enjoyment. to witness these moments--be it first hand or through a paper thin wall--is an uncomfortable experience. you'd simply rather not have been around for it.

however it is the silent witness who is burdened most. for not only must he know the beast, he must also come to know the imposter, the deceiver, the Charlatan. this character is ignorant to another's knowledge of his darker side and so behaves as if there was no awareness to begin with. meeting on the street, the Charlatan greets you warmly, with a kind voice and a generous smile. but, as you become familiar with his more sinister side--creeping through the walls during countless evenings and quiet, early dawns--you begin to notice the canines in his grin, the shrill tone in his,"hello." you come to understand that the average of all frequencies is nothing more than a façade. a harmony whose parts are rough and mottled, designed with the intent to cover up the most unpleasant tones rather than reveal a beautifully complex agreement. no matter. in the end, the worst notes ring truest, and you get a glimpse of the full spectrum whether you wanted it or not.

and then, you start to think about yourself.


oh happy flashback (Part I)

for the most part, it wasn't much different than any other hot, muggy day in new york. the trash on the sidewalk wasn't any less putrid. my clothes still greedily lapped up the sweat that made me sticky all over. and, everyone was still moving slowly through the air's thickness. always in the summer you begin to get a great appreciation for the physical fluidity of air. it seems ridiculous, i understand. however, air is technically a fluid. and in the summer, you learn it.

the *météo* is certainly comparable in other parts of this country, i understand that too. washington d.c. is particularly painful in the summer months. it used to be a swamp with water in it. then it got drained. now it's a swamp with hot air floating about. frankly, i find this situation to be worse than if the swamp water was still around. where one could have pointed at the object of his ire, now the soppiness taunts him as the invisible, yet somehow ever-palpable Spectre. st. louis is pretty damp as well. and let's not forget new orleans.

well, to make matters worse on this particular day, i hadn't showered ...yet. it all really started the night before. impromptu plans led to new introductions, which led to new friends, which led to new adventures. it was one of those nights where everything just kept falling into place. i met a dog named Tiger. I saw stag-horn ferns. I played on a playground at four in the morning (highly recommended). next thing i know, i'm emerging from the murky L-train stairway on 14th street at around 3pm, a bit beaten down from a long night.

dressed in yesterday's clothes, i'm having trouble climbing the stairs because my jeans are clinging so tightly to my sweaty legs that mobility is becoming an issue. my t-shirt isn't doing me any favors either. i run my fingers through my hair at the end of a half-hearted "everything-still-there?" full-body pat-down. my coif remains standing. it would be kind to say that i was mildly disheveled. but then to say that, you'd have to be blind. and even then, you'd be a pretty dumb blind person because i smelled like shit.

these details all augmented awkwardly when met with the saturated air. it was like one of those little sponge dinosaurs that they cram into a plastic pill case. and, when you see it, you're thinking to yourself, "There can't be a dinosaur in there! Nuh uh!" but, then, you drop it into the bathroom sink after you plugged the drain; and, low-and-behold, five minutes later: a proper sponge dinosaur. and, he's purple no less! ...of course, you're six years old at this point.

at any rate, i was a mess. time to stumble home. and stumble i did, through the heat and steam of the new york city summer. and now, thunder clouds began to mingle and gather like lumpish lambs in the skies overhead. this was july fourth, 2007.

i emerged from the shower... cleaner ...but, still sweating. the heat and the humidity were pretty much inescapable. however, those storm clouds promised to bring some release to our supersaturated situation. in the grey duldrums that were forming, i managed to climb the stairs of my new apartment in my new neighborhood to the roof. i was told the fireworks would begin soon and that i was in a prime spot to see them. i'd been living in new york for four years, and, to be honest, had never actually seen those bright lights in the sky.

there is, however, the great sensation of hearing the ballistics. the city's so incredibly dense and built-up that it has the tendency to act as an echo chamber. and, as the ordnances blast and bellow, they send waves of cacauphony rumbling through the streets, down the avenues, bouncing off glass and steel and stone as if they were trampolines. this, i've heard ...but never seen.

so, i had climbed to the roof. and sat--waiting. apparently i had arrived a bit early. no matter. this afforded me some time to observe my new surroundings from a heightened vantage point. i started to wander somewhat scatterbraindedly about my roof, examing the intricacies and odd craftsmanship that, over the decades, had amassed in the form of mismatched brick, tar-to-mortar-and-back-again patches, jury-rigged butresses, the odd seedling, and all the countless abandoned buckets and lumber left rotting and withering in far corners and nooks. there were passageways and walkthroughs. steam pipes and sky lights. and, there were makeshift stairs to the adjacent roof. all of these details were eerily exagerated by the dim grey smoke-light slowly pouring through the clouds this particular evening. everything was made darker.

and then all was made wetter. the clouds gently gave way, breaking under the weight of their burden, and sprinkling a cool, consistent haze upon us all that night.