Last night I white knuckled it. Couldn’t sleep. Got worried about things that absolutely nothing could change in the course of the wee hours.
Woke up and started worrying some more. How quickly life turns. Two nights ago everything felt real and grounded.
But sometimes real and grounded is lonely and scared.
Bri came through. She got a gig Interviewing people about their NYC experience and I was sweating it. Who am I to have NYC experiences? That aren’t Tinder related. I get like all my good times might be behind me. Maybe I was on fumes. Maybe deluded. Maybe NYC hadn’t chewed me up enough. Maybe it was time to call it quits.
I have these thoughts. Not often. But I have these thoughts.
It worked out. Turned out I have 22 years of NYC stories. Even one about a summer solstice party on a fifth floor fire trap on the LES where food and drink were lit aflame with Bacardi 151 and Everclear. I was a scared little Nogalite with…get this…blue hair and funny clothes who showed up at a party of college sophisticates. The party intimidated me. But it also got me thinking about a life of irreverent celebrations with fellow refugees.
It only took two decades for that life to be mine.
But what of the fut…no. Not today. What of the present?
My worries turned towards an abundance of opportunities. Now that I’m friends with this and that crowd I get invited to things that require attendance. Musicians who have gigs in various boroughs. Overlapping with dances and other sundry events I already have tickets to. How do you say no to people who reach out to you because they need guaranteed audiences?
Turns out I’m a chicken. I told Jonathan I’d try to make it to Joe’s Pub on Saturday but I have a ticket to dance at Three Dollar Bill. He’ll have to forgive me.
That still didn’t settle the matter as to tonight. Barb’s or Bar Freda in Ridgewood for Tyler’s show. I tried asking myself what the right answer was. I don’t have a gut. What I do have is a walk in closet full of clothes. I let them speak to me. They usually tell me where I want to go and who I want to be. But not today.
When it came down to it I let the dice roll and asked Harry if he wanted to join me in Queens. He said yes, so to Ridgewood we went.
Tyler and the Tube did not disappoint. No, that’s unfair. To Tyler and to the night. His band was hands down amazing. Could Chris, the drummer, benefit from a click track? Maybe but that’s not for me to say. The music was straight up 70’s rock. Hard on the keys and the guitarists…solos for days.
The funny part was me walking in to the basement at Bar Freda for the second time in a month and spotting a head over the crowd. It was Jack. I walked up to him and laced my arm in his. Less than a moment later someone hugged me from behind. Tyler. I walked back through the assemblage of hip 20 somethings to stares of “Who is she?”
And who is she? The thought crossed my mind more than once tonight. I just rewatched the Anthony Bourdain doc. He says at one point, “I don’t care about being cool. Cool is about giving no fucks and obviously I have fucks to give.”
Or something to that effect.
I don’t care about being cool. But I also don’t care about impressing anyone. So why did I feel a sense of pride that Jack was there to witness my friend Tyler…the person who made Crown Heights a hospitable place as a concept before I even moved here…kill it? My vicarious pride was energized by having Jack there to see it. “Yeah,” I thought, “That’s my boy up there!”
And then the narration that plays in my head just flowed. Me talking to younger me. Me talking to you. Me talking to Andrea. Me taking to everyone who ever thought I was irredeemably uncool. Who counted me out. But most of all, me talking to the one person who would find all of this amusing with one of his, “Only you, Vene” replies that could melt my heart. We all know who he is. Say it with me on the count of three…one, two, three…The Israeli.
Who has time for melancholy though when there are good tunes and multiple Rigdons to attend to?
Tyler’s brothers were both there and so were both cousins. The conversations were pretty par for the course. With them it’s all about family lore. And what Tyler hasn’t taught me I can wing with knowledge of Michiganders and random topics like “fries vs. tater tots?”
The Rigdons have a lot of opinions. Vernors vs. Dr. Pepper. Cheese. Sour cream. Who is the tallest? Who is the tallest without shoes on?
I kid you not. They took their shoes off IN A BAR to compare height back to back. The answer is Tyler’s kid brother Nick. He’s also the family chugger.
The Rigdon boys turn everything into a competition they have their baseball rules. In fact, Tyler played tonight with a bruised rib he got earlier today while falling in pursuit of a fly ball.
They’re like the Kennedys if the Kennedys grew up in the Midwest. On leaded water. I know. I went dark. Forgive me. It’s late.
On the first of two train rides home the Rigdons introduced me to one of their games. Dice, Rigdon style. Some guys came up and wanted in on the action, flashing actual dollar bills. But the Rigdons gracefully declined. I played. I haven’t the hand eye coordination to throw dice. But I gave it my best shot.
Life changes in a dime. One night you’re staring down the barrel of a existential gun and the next you’re playing dice with a bunch of young kids on the L train. Who am I to say where I’ll be in a year? If you asked 20-year old blue haired Vene at that Summer Solstice party where she’d be in 22 of them, she would have told you with a true heart an answer so deviant from the actual truth.
Am I scared? Yeah. Most of the time. But It’s like Georgia O’Keefe said:
“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”