Everywhere you go…

Yesterday and today are the days that I spend months of every year waiting for. When, first thing in the morning, you step outside and the clean breath of Autumn slips around your chest and wraps its arms around your back, it’s the most comforting experience I have, outside of maybe the first breath of spring. I hate the summer’s heat, and I always hated the oppression of school, but there was something liminal and promising about September that gave me just the faintest hope of happiness.

It was gone from me for years when I lived in California. I moved to California for the first time at the exact same time that I had finally lost hope. I know that sounds melodramatic, but it probably goes a long way to explaining what happened to me between 1988 and 1998. In the summer of 87, I lived as if I was a special person, an artist, a person who’s average intellect was at least enhanced by a wild and sweeping fantasy life that I could bring out on stage or in song.

It had taken a fair number of years to beat me down, years of failure and frustration. Every September, I would believe that the coming school would be different, that the coming year would be different, that I would meet the people who would be able to answer all of my questions in a language I understood, but year after year I was ignored and mocked and belittled. Not by my fellow students, I am not one of those people who romanticize a dorky existence, I was disregarded by anyone over the age of 20 and finally, by my junior year of high school, I agreed.

So, that first autumn, 1998, that came with no seasonal change was the first autumn I had given up. Failure had become not just an option, but a fail-safe. I couldn’t actually do anything, I wanted to fail more than I wanted to succeed, my failure was the only thing that assured me a position outside of judgement. I CHOSE failure, I didn’t fail. I had succeeded in failing, which is actually enormously liberating.

There was a long stretch where my hope was buried in self-loathing and self-aggrandizing, when I would walk around all day talking loudly and passionately about my own greatness and lie in a pool of sweat all night knowing it wasn’t true. I could tell that the people I was looking for were all around me, those people who were smarter than me and knew answers to stuff, I could tell they were around me, but I had quit looking, I had given up. Fuck em. Maybe they knew, maybe they didn’t. My “career” as such, was fueled entirely by vengeance. All I wanted was to deny other people the roles they were auditioning for, to make enough money to do the small things that I enjoyed, and at the end of that to maybe borrow or steal enough money to get by once my first wife took off.

I’ve said it before, poets and madmen take the weather personally, and I’m neither really. But that first spring, the spring of 2000, when I got to New York…

Guys, it’s here. Autumn is here in New York. Hope is here, the people here who are talking, the ones who are writing and singing and producing plays and publishing poems, the people here answer my questions. The heat has broken, the melancholy skies promise and deliver, the whole of the season wraps its arms around me like the answer to a prayer. When I find an eyelash, I don’t know what to ask for before I blow it off, I don’t know what to wish for over my birthday cake, I don’t know what the first star will bring me that’s anywhere near as beautiful as the feeling of finally being home, finally feeling – not hope – but that feeling that lasts after years of hope when you still hope.

I just don’t know why y’all aren’t here. I know, there are things to do and businesses to take care of and money and lives, but God, you guys, what it would be if we could all be here. The sun rises here, I’m at the beginning of America and y’all are all the way at the end. I can’t make an argument for being here, it’s hard and we’re barely keeping our heads above water. I know that what you are doing is important, I’m not lying, I know it is. It’s just that I found hope here, I found love and I found the people who answer my questions and even, astonishingly, ask me some. I found the language I’ve tried to speak my entire life.

I can’t infect you from this distance, I can’t wave my hand over the pot to make you hungrier for dinner. But I know you remember the smell, I know you can feel that first tiny sting of Autumn, and I genuinely hope it brings all of you home soon.