When I die
Give what’s left of me away
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms
And give them
What you need to give to me.
I want to leave you something,
Look for me
In the people I’ve known
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on your eyes
And not on your mind.
You can love me most
Hands touch hands,
Bodies touch bodies,
And by letting go
That need to be free.
Love doesn’t die,
So, when all that’s left of me
Give me away.
- Merritt Malloy
The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.
For those who are not frightened by the solitude that reveals all mysteries, everything will have a different taste. In solitude, they will discover the love that might otherwise arrive unnoticed. In solitude, they will understand and respect the love that left them. In solitude, they will be able to decide whether it is worth asking that lost love to come back or if they should simply let it go and set off along a new path. In solitude, they will learn that saying ‘No’ does not always show a lack of generosity and that saying ‘Yes’ is not always a virtue.
esta zamba te lo pide.
Te pide mi corazón
que no me olvides, que no me olvides.
Deja el recuerdo caer
como un fruto por su peso
Yo sé bien que no hay olvido
que pueda más que tus besos.
Yo digo que el tiempo borra
la huella de una mirada,
Mi zamba dice no hay huella
que dure más en el alma.
With tomorrow’s trash collection, I bid farewell to my shiny white wingtips, my dancing shoes, the best I’ve ever had. I came across them in Madrid four years ago after loosing all my luggage. They were glorious on that shelf, and again on my feet, and my luggage didn’t matter anymore. They have served me well since, outlasting every romantic entanglement, and instigating a few. They’ve seen dance floors on three continents, walked the pavement of more than a dozen cities. Man, the joy and turbulence they’ve heeled me through. I am genuinely choked up at letting them go, but it is time. They carry the mileage and memories, the mud from the monsoon of my early adulthood, and as I approach my 25th birthday, the soles are worn through and the seams frayed. Any suggestions on a pair for the next four years are welcome.
You need to understand, that who you are now, you are the physical manifestation of a conspiracy of love; that people whose names you don’t even know who struggled for you, who fought for you, sweated for you, who volunteered for you - you are here because of them. Do not forget that.
On Monday I had a sudden craving for tomato. Not in salad or anything, just a whole tomato, to eat like a peach. I thought it was peculiar, but I indulged the craving that night, and these two nights since. Tomatoes are delicious whole, but messy. There is only one person I’ve ever known to enjoy biting into a ripe tomato, eating its juicy entirety - my brother Malik.
This week marks nine years since he left us, and I suppose my subconscious is reminding me of this. I’ve also felt inclined this week to hear live jazz, another fitting remembrance of him. I still struggle with the regret of failing to love him better, and I’m anxious to understand what an involved and tender love looks like with the brothers and sisters I have remaining.
Nothing you become will disappoint me
I have no preconception that I’d like to see you be or do.
I have no desire to foresee you, only to discover you.
You cannot disappoint me.
It’s odd and a little sad I suppose that the character I most identify with right now is a middle-aged, divorced, balding loser with two kids and no game. It’s scenes like this that I just revel in (starting around 12:30) - there is this brilliantly crafted, cringeworthy awkwardness, sincerity, vulnerability. It’s pathetic, and absolutely beautiful:
Louie: Can I just tell you one time the way I feel about you?
Pamela: You wanna tell me?
Louie: Yes, and I, I’ll be your friend. And I won’t press you to be anything else, if you’ll just let me get it out one time.
Pamela: You wanna tell me?
Luie: Yes, please…
Pamela: Go ahead.
Louie: Pamela, I’m in love with you.
Pamela: Oh god.
Louie: Yes, it’s that bad. You’re so beautiful to me.
Pamela: Aghh eewww…
Louie: Shut up! Let me tell you. Let me! … Every time I see your face, or even remember it, it wrecks me. And the way you are with me, and you’re just fun, and you just shit all over me. And you make fun of me, and you’re real… I don’t have enough time in any day to think about you, enough. I feel like I’m gonna live a thousand years cause that’s how long its gonna take to have one thought about you, which is that I’m crazy about you, Pamela. I don’t want to be with anybody else.
Louie: I don’t… I really don’t…. I don’t think about women anymore, I think about you. I had a dream the other night that you and I were on a train. We were on this train and you were holding my hand…That’s the whole dream. You were holding my hand. And I felt you holding my hand. I woke up and I couldn’t beleive it wasn’t real…. I’m sick in love with you Pamela. It’s like a condition, its like polio. I feel like I’m gonna die if I can’t be with you. And I can’t be with you, so I’m gonna die… And I don’t care. Cause I was brought into existence to know you, and that’s enough. The idea that you would want me back, it’s like, greedy… I’m doing a bad job of this…
Pamela: No you’re not.
Louie: I’m not?
Pamela: No, it’s a good job… It’s a good job.
Louie: Is there any planet, any part of the world, that you feel any of the same? Is there even a shard…of a fraction, of a feeling that you have…? No…No…It’ not…
Pamela: No…Yeah. No… But that was gorgeous. That made me feel really good.
Louie: Good, good…right…nothing coming back the other direction, not even…no, not, no, just nothing.
Pamela: No, sorry…but nice…good, aww.
Pamela: Well, let’s just keep walking around very awkwardly, then…
Louie: Ok, let’s continue…
Pamela: I need to go food shopping, wanna help me?
Louie: Yes, anything…
Best show on TV.
The Souls of DC Folk
The premise that brown and poor people were only or mainly forced out of DC by direct economic pressures is an incomplete one. “A Hard Look at Gentrification" by Ta-Nehisi Coats, deconstructs this idea while touching on why the racial and class transformation of American inner-cities is such an emotionally charged topic for those of us who survived their decline.
Coats writes, “Black people have not owned much in this country. And yet, in the later years of the 20th century, we felt like we felt like we owned many of America’s great cities. We didn’t.” This is poignantly and correctly put.
It was devastatingly hard for people of color to thrive in the District in those years of abandon, so we lodged our aspirations elsewhere. Even as we came to “own the city” (in every sense but the most important in America), we stopped believing in the possibility of living well here. It just wasn’t plausible.
We found ourselves conflicted. We resented the abandonment, moral and literal, of those “flighters” who used to share in responsibility for this city. And we regarded warily (much as they regarded us) those who remained, cordoned off in their ghettos of privilege. Was theirs the same “garment of destiny” as ours?
At the same time, we couldn’t help but dream of quitting the city ourselves. Brown and poor people weren’t just forced out, but perhaps as importantly, we were coaxed out by the cynical incentives of despair. We were pulled towards places seemingly less toxic to dreams.
Those of us who lived in DC through its most soul-wrenched hours (whether by choice or by chance), own the joy and pain, the culture of this city. I literally ache for Chocolate City sometimes, for the people I came up with, for how this city was let to fall down on top of us. I experience Go-Go as no less than eulogy.
Gentrification is an emotionally charged subject, at least in part, because we feel we deserve recognition, a float in the parade of the inevitable. We have marked and been marked by this city. We deserve a sticker or t-shirt or exclusive rights to knowing glances, for loving DC when there was much less to love about it.
I’d settle for a plaque somewhere, perhaps over on Florida Ave next to Big Bear Cafe, that reads:
This is hallowed ground. Communities struggled here, fervently, and occasionally, triumphantly. There was remarkable beauty, in concert with and in defiance of the ugliness, long before there were manicured flower boxes and art walks. Some part of the soul of this city, of those qualities that drew you to it, is bound up deeply in the dying and dancing we did here. We suffered terrible decay so that you could rejoice in renaissance.
A friend who is blissfully engaged to a beautiful woman recently asked me why I was not married. I replied that I had intended to get married, but was looking for the perfect woman. In fact I found her — she met all of the requirements: she was beautiful, spiritual, compassionate, humorous, eloquent and worldly. But unfortunately she was looking for the perfect man.
My brother Omari (perhaps borrowed from elsewhere)
This kind of describes my place in life right now.
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
Just so you know—
My weird mind wanders and my brave heart breaks.
I’ve nailed some milestones, but I’ve made mistakes,
Cuz I got more faults than a map of California earthquakes.
I am taking a nap beneath your covers.
Wake me if you like me.
Wake me if you want me
Wake me if you need another poem.
Your once and future lover
has made himself at home.
Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, Master?
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
-Khalil Gibran, The Prophet (Chapter 3 - On Marriage)
I’ve been trying to explain to people for years the importance of standing apart and on your own even as you love someone. Now I just refer them to this.