Saturday, 19 December 2009

I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New York (day seventy nine and eighty)

Lost in the galleries, the donations and estates hung in white walled cubes, we wander from room to room, accelerating. Sometimes the view onto the angular skyscrapers is more interesting - when we face blank Rothkos, or blank canvases, or blank walls - that juxtaposition of stones and tiles and steel and glass and a century of design. Then you spy a Lichtenstein or a Klimt or a Matisse or a Picasso or a Warhol or someone you've never seen before, but how do they do that? No time to...pass the next image....soak in pigments onto becoming drudge if you don't put the thought in...obliques...graph paper and text. Slowpacers wander and ponder with chin in hand, glasses just so betwixt fingers, reflecting. I need some energy, the movement of Jackson Pollock, the still of a photograph capturing a portrait of grey faced children - something tangible. Grab your bags and flee the MOMA, past design classics inflatable armchairs and coffee mugs to the outside smog. I'm sick of foreign accents, so take me to the estuaries. I'm finished in this town.

The Greenwich village is the real New York. No one lives where we stay - amongst the businesses and headquarters and food stalls. Amidst the workplaces is where we sleep, looking up at fire escapes and down on the pilgrims on their way to Times Square; glittering lights and billboards and emporiums. The stoops are scrawled in child's hand drawn chalk fish, or community socials, but mostly empty. They're all where we were, always left too early. Le Petite Puppy treats their dogs well, playing in the window. The answer to the song's question is either $699 or $999. Romance is always fading. John McCain's daughter buys her puppies here. Three storey red bricks and stoops, quiet behind the trees. No one is home. The basketball courts reverb to the bounces and jeers of the vested men, gaming away and swooshing the net - done the same thing for years now, sweat crusted into the same blue baggy T shirt.

Rest on the wooden benches, wild flowers high up on a recycled railway track, perfume spreading the breeze. It rolls beneath concrete buildings, the sixties leftovers they forgot by the Hudson. In a recliner reading the Village Voice, roads flowing beneath us, it all feels eroded. Traffic moves in cycles, circling Times Square beneath all the city's neon. Spinning around, we soak it in, the final moments at the end of the road. To bed to sleep to forget to remember to all of it to fading out to dreams... I wandered the square, hoping to glimpse your jet hair and freckles in the swirling crowds. This was my farewell to it all, but you didn't turn up. I could have walked miles that night, trying to wear out my sadness. Billboards reflected in my eyes and I couldn't sleep.

While I was away I became better and you weren't a part of it. Gone in another economic confederation pretending to be the adult we could see you would never become. Pushed pennies into a hundred arcade games, waiting for the chinking of coins to validate my existence. Fired the ball into the red circled hole like I knew what I was doing, collecting the ticket chains to trade quarters for plush toys. My bowling arm grew strong again and I can throw without the rails now, mother. Drank beer with people I'll never see again, surrounded by people I'll never see again, surrounded by people who don't know who I am, and still I didn't raise my voice. Smashed children at laser tag, like a sharpshooter with single figure accuracy. Ran around ghost towns with hands shaking at the slightest noise. Progressed. Learnt to fire baseballs back from a classic pose, all the while making myself a diluted Kerouac for the twenty first century, scrawling worthless thoughts under gold leaves. Didn't learn anything that can be explained in ink.

This road trip finished on the other side of a continent. Condensing eighty days of adventuring and exploring into some pithy evaluation/conclusion is not a sensible goal. The previous pages of this journals are my summing up. Get back to me when you've done your revision.

Journeying home is empty - time filled with killing time, like this is a way to spend time, sitting. New York I love you but you're bringing me down. Emotions are absent, they'll catch up with the time change and the discombobulation of jetlag. As I write from this air conditioned nightmare, a fractioned final entry, all I can hear are the sounds of Terminator Salvation, explosions, screams, gunfire and robot sound effects - the screen is blue and broken. And somehow I try to see more in this final memory than actually exists, as if it is a final observation, a final telling synecdoche for the whole trip, a statement on America, but all it really is is a bad movie on a 3 inch square screen, 6 inches in front of my head, 36,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and a thousand miles from everyone.

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