Saturday, July 15, 2017

Home again, home again

(Henri Cartier-Bresson)

It must have been the sun yesterday, or the traveling today. I came home from the airport and fell directly into the deepest of sleep. Rachel woke me up after a couple hours to announce that she had made shrimp tacos, which were perfect and delicious. I ate two of them, feeling as if I had been brought back from a tremendously distant place, half in a daze from the depth of sleep I had been in, drifting somewhere along the bottom of the mighty Pacific. Then I fell back asleep for six or seven more hours, finally waking as the sun was setting. Even on the best of nights I don't sleep that much, never in the daytime. Or rather, not since bender-recovery was no longer a part of my life pattern. 

I'll be awake all night tonight. Perhaps I'll write hourly post updates here. Because what could possibly be more fascinating than my wakefulness?

It is nice to finally be home. The east coast seems much farther away than it used to. I think that maybe the airlines have moved it eastward in the last twenty years, so they can charge more for in-flight snacks or something equally stupid and insidious. They've added what is know as a "courtesy hour" to the flight path and have tacked on a commensurate "convenience charge" for it. 

Perhaps this feeling of greater distance is only a byproduct of traveling with a five year old boy. Of course it could equally be blamed on me being almost a fifty year old man now. It is never easy to say, even more difficult to know. It could also be both, or neither, but something has definitely changed. I was flying United. Maybe I was just afraid of getting my ass kicked, which made time drag a bit. 

The boy let me sleep a little on the plane, offering me his night-night to ball up and use as a pillow, which I did. Though sleep on a plane does not really count as being official. It only adds to the accumulation of your fatigue if you get none when you need it the most.

I remember once flying from Athens to Prague. I had to play that night and I had already been up the entire night before. There had been the initial outbound flight from New York to Athens before that, connecting to Thessaloniki and then back again to Athens in the morning. I had done the late night set which stretched into sunrise. The only flight that I had any chance of getting any sleep on was the slightly longer one one between Greece and the Czech Republic. After the flight took off I eased my seat back to do just that. The guy behind me started pushing back against it. I turned and looked at him. I believe that I may have even tried to ask him what he thought he was doing, and why, but there was a language barrier there, possibly more than one. We never did come to a consensus, he and I, but neither did he stop pushing my seat forward while I was trying to sleep. 

I was in my younger and more temperamental years and was perpetually nursing a fragile inner state, one always on the verge of further cracking, which combined to create the occasional storm of unforgiving emotionally youthful outbursts. I tried and tried to just ignore it but I couldn't, and neither could I sleep with this fucking Turkish goat herder behind me rustling my mind, denying my spine any reprieve from being in its locked upright position. My skull, a uselessly lumpy dumbbell lodged against the plastic wall of the plane's cabin, nearly in tears. 

I had seen Midnight Express so I knew not to push my luck in these matters. Who knows what death sentences I had in my pockets at the time. I stared out the window and tried to locate Dubrovnik and Zadar, then Venice far off in the distance, but nothing relaxed me, nothing permitted my hatred to subside. I became nationalist in my loathing for the injustices that must be commonplace among the people from whatever savage nation this terrorist sympathizer behind me came from. I had worked myself up into some sincere aversion to all people east of Switzerland by the time the plane landed. When I stood to disembark I stared at the guy with my jaw tightened, knowing that his shame and guilt were likely the only satisfaction that I might get as recompense for the precious lost sleep that I had wakefully longed for. He looked back with soft and understanding eyes, emphatically apologetic in very broken English. It made no sense. It almost ruined my hatred of him and his people.

I wanted to scream in his native tongue and find out why the fuck he was being apologetic when it was his selfish behavior that prevented me from getting the desperately needed sleep that might allow me to do drugs for another 24 hours, but it was all useless. I knew it. I was ruined by confusion. It made no sense, yet that was precisely the kind of thing that I told myself that I did drugs for and I was probably getting a version of what I deserved. Just not with him, stuck on that plane. How could I now get this pretty well dressed peasant to understand that he had ruined what might have otherwise been brilliant drug moments strung along precariously between a Friday and Saturday night with only critically timed connecting flights between and holding them together, as if by magic? How? - I seethed.

That was perhaps the magic to my life, then. I lacked the communication skills to adequately transmit my importance to others in a way that did not require me also explaining things in details that would make no sense to them. The often used phrase, I am an artist, seemed too generic and lacked the hyperbolic arrogance that matched my persona at the time. I needed something that meant much more than that, and I shouldn't always have to be the one saying it, either. After all, anybody can claim to be an artist. I needed a claim that somehow suggested that I was born to be the thing that I now was and shouldn't be expected to have ever truly worked to arrive where I had. I needed a phrase to suggest that I had won the lottery, just that there was no money involved.

I never quite found the phrase I was looking for. Of course I was later ushered out of dj'ing by the very crowd that had only a few years before seemed as if it was their idea that I was there in the first place. Some people you just can't reach.