Saturday, 4:16AM, Hotel
When it's over and the guitar's returned, shipped, packed, tucked away, cables rolled, card cleared, cover taken, I get a free CD release goodie bag, and I chomp on the glow stick and peddle merch, hi-what's-your-name, it's my pleasure, are you from around here, no you're crazy of course he's not, what's after this, I'll stay, maybe I'll meet up, let's go somewhere, I'd like to hear this band, oh sure me too, let's listen summore, David Gray, don't you think he sounds like David Gray, no but he's good let's listen , there plenty places we could go, we could go anywhere, let's just throw a rock at one, I'd like to hear this though, I'll meet up, did you have fun tonight, sure I did did you, we'll see, meet us later, okay alright, you're wrong though he sounds like David Gray, it sounds like Babylon, let's go already alright fine just go, just go, go.
It doesn't sound like Babylon, because it's faster, the melody's bigger, more dynamic, the structure's different, the drummer plays sticks not brushes, it's only the voice that sounds a little like it, but the song is good and follows me later, jaywalking down Sullivan, now MacDougal, now Bleecker again, nine different places in thirty minutes, it follows me in the cab to Avenue A, still fast, faster than that song Babylon, still much faster than the rain streaking across the windshield, faster than the plodding electronica inside the crimson bar, then back out in the rain and back in again, still audible over my ringing ears, women shouting in mugshot booths, now over the speakeasy bouncers yelling to a jaundiced street, sorry but we've reached capacity, sorry there's nothing I can do, you know who I am dammit, now singing still over the quiet nextdoor, over the nouvojazz, it follows me through midnight conversation and faux accents, past the crowded table toasting outside (London's it now, we should go), back to the sidewalk puddle and backseat ride, the kabob stand, it still hums while waiting for food, are you waiting for food, here have chicken, he looks hungry, give him chicken, and I silently sing harmony now upstairs, now to bed, singing quiet with the nameless faceless frenzied song, singing words I don't know but have remembered somehow, humming and shutting bloodshot eyes, humming a weird lullabye in the new morning, humming now nearly asleep and dreaming still of some perfect song I can't name but doesn't sound like Babylon even at all.
Saturday, 11:11AM, Hotel
Thirsty but not even a little tired, I'm back already from a caffeine run (the concierge nodded proudly when I came back in an appropriate time frame with Starbucks cup in hand) and I've successfully opened my blinds without flashing an entire middle school.
NYC 3,722, Milam 9
I'm up because there's football to watch, but first there's television about football to watch. This, the preamble to kickoff, would be a good time to check my long-neglected email, Facebook, Myspace, and other email.
Saturday, 11:17AM, Hotel
Yowsa. Nevermind about the email, Facebook, Myspace, and other email. Turns out the world keeps right on going...even when I'm leaning Amish. I'll get back to the messages on Monday, when there are twice as many of them. Meanwhile...
Saturday, 2:15PM, Bar of Football Glory
You wouldn't know it from the weather outside (aggressively overcast and balmy), or the calendar (barely November), but it's Christmastime. This bar--which is a huge, old, gorgeous bar--is decked out in Christmas lights, wreaths, ribbons, and sure, why not, spirit. Except not really. Three people at my table have already threatened to vomit on top of the decorations because (I guess) it's too early. Or something.
Don't you want somebody to hug?
I'm here watching the LSU/Alabama game. This is an LSU bar. I'm an Alabama fan. I'm also (kind of) enjoying the Christmas decorations. So, I'm on a roll with the folks at my table.
In my limited experience, there are three things folks from Louisiana hate. In order:
1) Nick Saban
This should get interesting.
Saturday, 5:15PM, Bar of Football Glory
Halftime, and I'm sitting next to the only jerk in the place wearing red. In other news, LSU isn't playing great and I'm checking emergency exits and wondering how many of these people, if it comes down to it, I can 1) take in a fight or 2) beat in a blind sprint.
The answer is somewhere between "half" and "pretty much no one."
Also, I just got word that my 7PM Sunday departure just got moved to a 9AM Sunday departure. In other news, guess who's not sleeping tonight.
Saturday, 10:41PM, Somewhere on Sullivan Street
Disappointed to find a restaurant (much earlier in the evening) without taking an even accidental wrong turn. Surprised to find it comfortable, inviting, and not at all crowded. Surprised by the gracious server. Surprised by the soup and petit fors. Surprised by geese in the pasta. Surprised (somehow) by the bill.
Sunday, 4:04AM, Hotel
Now, in a warm and well-lighted place, splitting the last of the Walker with my oldest friend, talking about the past a little and the present a lot while SportsCenter plays and replays in the background. We're talking from outside a great and mad city outside, we're talking about the future like it's listening outside the door, and laughing about it. We're sitting outside a city we don't know and doesn't know us, talking about anything. We've got one of life's most rare and valuable things--time to kill--and something equally rare and valuable--a close friend--to pass it with. We're now an hour away from showering and packing and taking separate cabs to separate stations and separate roads that lead somewhere we haven't seen, off into a vague and determined future.
Some things we remember fondly. Some we realize we'll remember fondly as the moment itself passes. Some moments we realize, years later, were indicative of a time and a place, but passed initially without a second thought. So let this moment--propping up the night with my oldest friend--be one of those things my mind chooses to recall, when it needs a thing worth remembering.
Sunday, 6:22AM, Some road I don't know
Three days later, and I still know practically nothing about NYC. Maybe never will.
But I do know this: anyone who says New York is a scary place hasn't seen its sunrise.
Sunday, 11:30AM, Nashville Interglobal Airtravel Place
My eyes half-asleep, my leg all-asleep, I'm off the plane and out of the gate and through the terminal and I look up and there she is, arms out, mid-smile, ready, unbelievably:
Straight ahead, two-dimensional, plastered on the wall, right where I misremembered her, just where I thought I'd left her months ago, Carrie Effing Underwood, and now I don't know what freaking plane I just stepped off, and into what gate, and into which terminal (maybe it's a different terminal, that's it), and into what city, the place just as I hadn't left it. Yeah, I'm here, and I'm back, and I'm in Nashville, and I'm at home.
But I don't have a clue what that is.