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Fitting In Two Lives

April 14, 2012

Depressing FaceLots of paper today. Paper with a mixture of happy and unsettling renderings. I just came from seeing my first live magazine, The Paper Machete podcast. Everything unfolded at The Horseshoe bar at 3:00. A very new acquaintance of mine Brian Quinn walks in, pulls up a seat and a man named Chris starts lip singing and dancing on the bar. Chris makes his way onstage to introduce the show’s first guest. As Brian could stay for literally, only a few moments he takes leave to go teach class and I’m left sitting with my best friend and the reason I came, Kate Schell of Paper Thick Walls.

We are privy to the readings of great personalities, writers entertaining on ranging subjects from politics to science to political science, from wars to sports and songs of various sorts from humble, very funny men and women, some with depressing news. One lad even sang a song about depression. The puppet (Chad the Bird) said his name was Brad, Sad Brad Smith. Yes, a talking puppet spoke about the Fox mole and later a Neo Futurist, Noelle Krimm embodied gluten. Closing with a grey, articulate reality concerning the near eleven year war was the eloquent Dr. Matthew Schmidt.

The band played their two sets and after pressing through Eric’s breaking a string, his “A” string specifically, the group breaks down gear; hands are shook throughout the lucky space, backs patted, smiles shared and we’re all on our separate ways. “I love you guys,” I say to Kate and Eric as I’m walking my way to the Irving Park bus. “Love you too,” she says. I’m walking. Where is it? I’m patting my pockets now. Duh, I have my phone, music is playing. Am I headed in the right direction? I always do this, get turned around when coming out of a new place, then just pick one direction and commit… until I realize I’ve gone the wrong way. “Love you!” Kate yells as she drives by, Eric at her side. “Love you too!” Oh, here I am. It wasn’t the wrong way. This bus will never come.

All too quickly, I’m off the bus, heading to the store to get some contact solution; I’m out. I pass by this man, crumpled over in his wheelchair right outside the bank. Grey wisps of hair float over an orangish, reddish jacket. I see him but I don’t see him. At the store, I turn through a revolving door mirrored by a former, closeted lover. I won’t say his name but let’s call him John Summers. “John Summers, how are you?” I ask. Such a long moment in less than a second. His eyes recognize, dart slightly, and lose slight color as they’re now covered by his own shame, guilt for his having a same-sex encounter. Next the guilt is masked by anger and dismissively he says, “Good. You?” Without stopping the walk I share “I’m good.” Such a second; my eyes spoke their own volumes.

Reese WitherspoonI have my contact stuff and am almost home. The man in the orangish, reddish jacket is being loaded into an ambulance. I take off my wireless headphones, a little shocked. Did I just walk by a dead man moments ago? Was he just injured or passed out? Why didn’t I stop to see if he was all right? Have I really become that far removed from being able to see when someone needs help? Here in my musical word he was only taking a nap. “People are idiots. That’s what they are, 90% of people are idiots,” the girl behind me is saying to her friend. “It’s true and don’t be sad for the idiots just be glad you’re not one of them. So I was like… blah blah blah.” Her voice trails off.  I was thinking what an idiot. What an idiot I was to have walked right by and not seen this picture in truth, an old man ignored by all of us idiots.

I try to put light back into my thoughts, hoping the best for this stranger. “Nick.” Who said my name? I turn. Oh, it’s Matthew Ellenwood and the other magical people next door. We hug. “Why so dressed up?” He tells me they had just presided over a wedding. Keith, whom I could also appropriately call Mr. Green, says “We’re on our way to the reception. The men ask me what I’m doing Monday evening. “Why?” The Brotherhood of the Phoenix is meeting at his house for a class on “defining magic.” “Well I have a lot to say about that,” and I check my calendar. “I’m in group on Mondays.” “Maybe next time.”

Yes, group, continuing therapy after my successful sixteen weeks of one on one with Aren M. Drehobl, the staff psychotherapist. Leaping off point with no segue I’m reminded of two quotes from very different characters, Vanessa Lutz (played by Reese Witherspoon) and Arthur C. Clarke:

“I do got trauma huh?”

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

It’s probably easy to see which line fits in which life but it’s not always as black and white off the paper. Now, here I could go onto define magic in my own fashion, explaining how incredible an evening podcast filled with expressions of depression lead to an encounter between an ambulance and an old man, while wrapping the whole freeway of life together with a nice magical bow and call it synchronicity. Yet, I’m nearing 1,000 words on this digital paper and so the page will pause while I go off to spend more time with the people of A Thousand Novels. During the commute I’m sure to think of where each mentioned face has walked and what they’ve seen on the way. Or maybe I’ll end up focusing on the newly married couple or perhaps Reese and Arthur and how different they remain. Different as ever, fitting in two lives.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda Lamb permalink
    April 16, 2012 22:10

    this was beautiful just like you. xoxoxo

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