No hard feelings

Most nights, I rest well. I fall asleep to podcasts on astronomy or this audiobook Behave I’ve been listening to over and over. Sometimes lullaby versions of subversive music. Maybe the Avett Brothers.

But every once in a while, I spook myself at night. Usually it’s a scary documentary or a podcast that’s disheartening. I’m shook without something to hold onto. It feels like there’s a void out there. A nothing. It’s a tiny difference. Like the wind calming down and the air stills.

There isn’t a lonelier feeling in the world.

It’s like the world has stop spinning and gravity lightens. And in its place, I feel uncertainty.

I felt this two nights ago. It felt so big and yet so slight that it felt like a comet had crashed into one of Saturn’ moons years ago and my body was barely feeling the shock. It felt like there was no God and there was no purpose and every rule and belief I had begin to float before me as though they had no weight. The world was a sadder place. The whole world. A man murdered in plain sight. I don’t want to talk about it.

I’ve joked with Gian that we should open a secret night club in our apartment called En Fuego. We live in a tinder box. It’s a pre-war four story building with no sprinkler system, no smoke detectors, the fire escape is held together with grime, and the main stairs were devised by a sadist who never watched an episode of The Old Yankee Workshop on PBS.

If this place went up, we’d go with it. “Make your peace with God, Gian. We could go at any time.”

Last night, I sat on my floor cushions, working on my laptop. There were sirens and lights down below, but when you live across from a homeless shelter, you get used to the ambulances. I always look anyway. Last night it wasn’t ambulances. It was fire engines. And the fire fighters were looking up and pointing…at me.

I looked down to see flames rising up from the adjacent building. Something that once was a barber shop, but had long ago resigned itself to less savory affairs.

Without a moment’s pause, I closed my laptop, calmly walked over to Gian and told him to gather his most precious and irreplaceable belongings and head downstairs. There was a fire. He wanted to see it for himself. I packed while he looked out my window.

Two bags later, less than five minutes, and I was down on the street among what would be a stretch to call a throng of unmasked men. Curiosity seemed to keep them planted outside the building…a building that everyone knows is used for drugs. It’s not a secret.

But on a night like last night, with the snuff film of George Floyd’s murder in the back of all of our minds, and Covid somewhere in the air…I didn’t want to be there. The combination of a fire, a drug den, a homeless shelter, a historically black neighborhood, and a older man standing in the middle of Marcus Garvey Boulevard swinging his cane in the sky, shouting “Cops wanna kill all us “n” word,” I called a friend and got an Uber to Bushwick.

The refuge was welcome, the company trying and tiresome, and I somewhat assured that if I had to say goodbye to it all, I could do it with a clear head and without hesitation. No one died. No one lost their home or their possessions. The cops didn’t hurt anyone. And the neighborhood ecosystem worked as it usually does…to keep the tension down.

Also, had I met my fate last night, I think I’d have been ok. The night before that…I wasn’t quite sure. But I felt my feet on the ground last night. And that God was amongst us and breathed through us.

Load the car and write the note
Grab your bag and grab your coat
Tell the ones that need to know
We are headed north

One foot in and one foot back
But it don’t pay to live like that
So I cut the ties and I jumped the tracks
For never to return

Ah Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in
Are you aware the shape I’m in
My hands they shake my head it spins
Ah Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in

When at first I learned to speak
I used all my words to fight
With him and her and you and me
Oh but it’s just a waste of time
Yeah it’s such a waste of time

That woman she’s got eyes that shine
Like a pair of stolen polished dimes
She asked to dance I said it’s fine
I’ll see you in the morning time

Ah Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in
Are you aware the shape im in
My hands they shake my head it spins
Ah Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in

Three words that became hard to say
I and love and you
What you were then, I am today
Look at the things I do

Ah Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in
Are you aware the shape I’m in
My hands they shake my head it spins
Ah Brooklyn Brooklyn take me in

Dumbed down and numbed by time and age
Your dreams to catch the world, the cage
The highway sets the traveler’s stage
All exits look the same

Three words that became hard to say
I and love and you
I and love and you
I and love and you

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