This Walt Whitman quote hangs on a wall in my upstate cabin framed between a wood carved picture of a bear and a can of bear mace. I pay it no attention, never even noticed it until I woke the other morning with several scattered and fractured images stuck in my head. I have an excellent memory, my problem is that they don’t always sync up chronologically or geographically. I’ll remember a whole conversation I had with somebody, but forget when or where we had it. It doesn’t effect my day to day existence and I’m pretty sure most people are like this. I remember the bear wood carving because it was very recent, but I forget where and when I purchased the bear mace…which is illegal in NYC.
I daydream constantly, this is my excuse. In meetings, through conversations, during rehearsals, even at the occasional gig. I can’t help it, I have a real problem being in the here and now. I partly blame trying to juggle too much in my life, I partly blame social media and modern technology in general, but mostly I blame my chemistry. It just is who I am.
I’m standing in a stairwell and a girl is being led by me on a dog leash. I am leaving a show. It was in a warehouse somewhere in Brooklyn. I am wearing a suit jacket and it’s almost 3am. People were out of their minds on drugs and I felt old and out of place and I simply wanted a beer and to go home. It was a storytelling event, i’m pretty sure of that. Not sure when. This memory melts into a show at the back of Jimmy No.43 in the East village and a Hostel gig on the upper westside. Three entirely different gigs, locations and timelines. If I were to hazard a guess I’d say 2006, 2008, and 2014. At Jimmy’s I’m having an awkward conversation with a comedienne after the show and at the hostel gig I’m watching someone else play my guitar while we wait for the show to begin and I’m not happy about it. Why these are stitched together I have no idea.
I moved to NYC in 2003. The first year was a blur of working, paying bills, immigration and getting lost around New York City. Immense highs and crashing lows, hundreds of faces I can’t put names to, tipping, cab rides, coffee, being told I have an accent, being bored of saying were I was from and generally drowning in all the possibilities the city seemed to offer. It was late 2005 when I found my feet, had some cash together and started to work on a plan to pursue what I really wanted to do outside of my day-job. I was clueless but pushed the boat out regardless. I started writing over Christmas and by April 2006 I was on stage doing my thing. These memories are pretty vivid for good and bad reasons. Later in that year all the shows, people I met, and experiences I had slowly began to bleed into each other. And still do.
Random memories, people, snippets of conversations float around my head erratically, much like my pursuit of the arts. A woman spits fire from the stage, drunk and laughing until my head hurt in a tiki bar with people I’d later wish I’d never met, tuning my guitar on someone’s bed at an apartment gig, giving a cab driver my album and then getting the same guy months later and he had the CD in his player, bombing in a gay coffee shop, bombing at a hospital gig, bombing in a bookstore, first ever paid gig, performing with burlesque dancers on stage, playing songs for the first time to five people in some underground bar that closed soon after, singing to ten people in a theater, playing a song for the very last time, playing live on air, hearing my music on the radio, first review, nameless people in writing classes, pacing backstage before a show, rushing to a gig I didn’t want to do, getting home from red hook in a snow storm, falling asleep on subways and endless bad advice.
What I do remember accurately is the people I met along the way and have remained close friends with. We were together, I forget the rest.