Nostos algos. A visit to a godfather, to beautiful poets, old friends, childhood idols, the girls I looked up to in the schoolyard, my prom dates, the first people I danced with, the first writers I both admired and considered peers. Remember when? When we met in town squares on the hour. When we were single. When we thought we were immortal. When we drove all night. When we were raging with hormones. When we cared about everything so much more. I remember.
The ache of homecoming. I have thought that I could remember everything because the memories I had were always so vivid, textures I could still feel on my fingers, I remember your hands shaking like birds when you told a story, I remember holding you from behind, resting my head in the hollow of your shoulder blades, I remember the taste of your skin. I remember the first time you fell in love and called to tell me about it; I remember your breath on the phone in the spaces when we didn't speak. This summer has been the realization that my memories are telephone poles, with long gaps of mere wire in between, where I trust that information is traveling until we come to the next telephone pole, solid wood I can wrap my arms around, splinters in my fingers. Why those memories and not others? Together we make a map of who we were, untangle the wires to avoid getting shocked, string our memories together. Ten years since we first met, twenty years, thirty. I was only fifteen then. I was never so young.
Pain from an old wound. It's lovely that we have grown up, richer now in most ways. If my seventeen could meet my forty-seven she'd be ... happy. Surprised, I think, to still be alive, and to be so happy with life. The sadness that consumed me then is present, but a shadow only, and I keep my eye on it but it doesn't cloud my vision. And you, my friend. The same smile only with more lines around it, the same beautiful eyes but so much wiser. Our hands have touched so many more things, we have been burned, we have scars, and yet we are the same. We are strong; we have survived.
The way you tap your finger against your mouth when you're thinking. Rub your ear. Hold my eyes with yours. I was a little in love with you then. More than a little. And still. I am glad we are both alive in the world.
We meet in a hotel with many quarters for the radio surprised that we've survived as lovers not each other's but lovers still with outrageous hope and habits in the craft which embarrass us slightly as we let them be known the special caress the perfect inflammatory word the starvation we do not tell about We do what only lovers can make a gift out of necessity Looking at our clothes folded over the chair I see we no longer follow fashion and we own our own skins God I'm happy we've forgotten nothing and can love each other for years in the world
Getting up off the mat upon which I learned to fall, back when it was closer, when the ground kissed me and it felt like hello, now so much more difficult, every fall a reminder of bones, joints, a reminder of pain. I know it looks more natural when I really fall, when I do it myself, no camera cutting away to my brave face while some other stronger younger person takes the fall for me, I know it's part of the visceral truth that needs to be told when I myself personally tumble down the cliff's side, body tossed like a rag doll, like salad, flesh torn by the pack of rabid-looking dogs at the foot of the ravine, okay some of that is just special effects but the tears are mine, no glycerin needed. Visceral truth, verisimilitude, whatever. I know that it has to be me, or nobody's impressed. When I was young I said I couldn't understand something unless I tried it myself, and I opened my mouth wide to the wind as we drove through, to the flavors, the drugs, the kisses, to every thing, I opened my whole body for it, tried it, tasted it, experienced it, and I knew that it was the only way I could know anything. But now I think: do I NEED to know? Why? Why do I have to do all my own stunts? Is there not some poor unemployed actor out there, someone who could look like me with just a wig and some padding, someone more eager and enthusiastic who could do this for me, and I would sit in my trailer looking wise and sipping tea and I would be so nice to the reporters, the magazine journalists, I'd talk about The Method and The Process. Look, it doesn't have to be REAL-real, some of it could be ketchup, I don't want anybody else to suffer, I'm just tired of how real this feels, tired of bleeding the truth and shaking it off. I'm tired of bravely walking away from the flames as they lick the clothes from my back, of taking the punches, of one more time with feeling. I'm tired even of the exotic locations, but I'll stay in the picture if you want me to do the work, I just don't want to get hurt anymore. I want it in my contract.