Saturday, October 13, 2007

The right times of the day for softening of features

Okay -- so I go out -- the space is interesting, like someone's big flat with a bar, there’s smoking in one room at the front but the windows are open so hopefully it's okay -- the music is that kitsch shit where it's just whatever's trendy, thrown together with the mixer but no mixing really and everyone loves it, they get especially excited about the ‘70s shit, Sylvester or the Scissor Sisters I can hardly tell. It's that computer thing where sometimes it sounds like the record’s skipping or the dj’s waxing it up, but I don't think there are any records. The music never builds, it just gets slapped together, and everyone in the room is working facial hair and something kind of ‘70s clone, mustaches and leather, with something bordering ‘80s like hightop sneakers. There's too much cologne, someone even hugs me with it on. I dance a little but not really -- I'm already hurting, why break my body for no reason? I leave as soon as I see someone light up a cigarette in the main room, right next to my coat actually -- good thing I notice just in time, rescue my fashion and run downstairs. I'm back home in under an hour, and I don't feel worse, my head is clearer at least and I take a shower to get rid of the cologne smell and any smoke residue.

But oh no, I wake up from something kind of deep into dry throat and driving headache, oh no why did I go to that bar? I should have left as soon as I saw that person smoking in the front room, why didn't I leave I should have left what was I doing there anyway -- trying to find good music and socialize, but I need to remember to take care of myself and get away if there's smoke, there's always some smoke maybe this going-to-bars thing isn't such a good idea but that's when I'm awake, during bar time and I don't want to be so fragile. Now my face is going to be dried out and I'll have dark circles under my eyes and all just to stand in a room and stare at people like there was some reason to be there. Now I'm not going to be able to go to the once-a-month place with a backroom tomorrow and then on Saturday and reading somewhere where there will be tons of smoke, they open the whole front of the place and people just stand outside blowing in. I used to smoke, aged 14 to 21 when it still seemed glamorous I knew it was terrible too but what could be better than chain-smoking stress, there was always stress to smoke with, a companion in my fingers burning lungs. Even though I usually didn't smoke more than five a day I still embraced the identity I’d get so angry if there wasn't a smoking area, what was the point of going out? I remember when I quit I was in the bathroom at this café in Boston, it was called The Other Side because it was on the other side of Mass Ave from the commodified counterculture section of the endless high-end shopping strip of Newberry Street so it pretended edginess -- worn-out sofas in the low-ceiling upstairs, thriftstore tables with vintage lamps until they renovated it into blandness and I went in the bathroom, about to take out a cigarette when suddenly I thought what am I doing, smoking’s disgusting. Of course I’d always known this -- who didn't -- but I’d never felt it.

Even after I quit, it took me two years to hang out in non-smoking sections at restaurants, it was just such a different culture I belonged to the smoking side more frantic and creative. The point of all this is to say that I understand why people light up cigarettes on crowded dance floors like nothing else matters except their posture and addiction, even as they destroy my life with a single exhale. But I can't believe I'm thinking all of this now while I'm trying to sleep, brain pumping overtime still I'm not getting up I'm not -- oh, breathing -- actually, the air is so cool and fresh today, oh I can feel it clearing out my nasal passages oh it's even cool here under the covers I love that. Yes, just keep breathing in this fresh air to clear everything out, yes.

When I wake up, I still smell smoke but the headache’s gone -- instead there's a dark sadness that I'm trying to meditate out of, until I kind of give up but when I get out of bed I feel okay. I realize the smell of smoke is somehow stuck in my nose -- maybe it's on my skin or on the hair follicles I didn't wash carefully enough in the shower. I take a wash cloth and rub it briskly from my nose to my chin and then it's true, I don't smell smoke anymore. I'm thinking about all the aspects of this bar experiment, I mean the goals -- to learn how to cruise outside of public sex environments, to get past that childhood fear that my desire will kill me I'll just have a heart attack right there, to find good music, to break my body out of the pain cycle before bed maybe. Another part is this weird thing about aging -- I'm 34, mostly I'm happy with the way I look maybe happier than ever before I mean I'm not happy with my body but I enjoy my presentation. I get neurotic, try and sit in the sun on the fire escape at the right times of the day for softening of features. I'm scared of the place of falling off everything is so precarious I'm scared of looking back with regrets now is the time for this cruising thing, I don't want regrets.


gina said...

i love how you think.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Gina, darling -- oh, I love how you YOU think...

Love love love LOVE --