Sunday, June 5, 2011


I have a hard time remembering what happened when. The sequence of things often doesn't seem right. I know I got that mostly-amber-colored piece of rock crystal -- maybe heated-treated amethyst, a small part of it is not amber but very pale violet -- for two dollars or so at a little roadside store somewhere in the Rocky Mountains where I stopped for gas or lunch, when I was driving cross-country solo. Which means that I've had that piece of crystaline quartz since 2003 at the very earliest, because that was the first time I drove cross-country solo. That seems wrong, though. It seems like I've had that rock a lot longer than that.

It seems like I saw The Cure's video for "High" in 1990 on the same old burnt-out TV in Bonn, a TV which was more sepia than color, where I saw "Pictures of You." But "High" wasn't released until 1992. Actually, it feels like I first heard "Pictures of You" in 1992. I know this has to do with the lyrics to "Pictures of You," and to missing someone who still hadn't left me when "Pictures of You," from the 1989 album Disintegration, was first released as a single in March 1990.

I spent an awful lot of time looking at pictures of women I used to know and being very miserable. I'm working on not being so very miserable like that anymore. There's no doubt I really used to overdue it. Just like the guy singing "Pictures of You." It's like I was making myself miserable looking at pictures of someone when "Pictures of You" came out, but she hadn't been my girlfriend yet and I didn't have any pictures of her.

The woman I since got pictures of and whom I associated with "Pictures of You" told me she remembered the first time we met. I don't remember it. There's only one person I remember seeing one for the first time. It was 1975. We were both fifteen years old at the time. My memory is ordinarily anything but photographic, but I remember what she was wearing. I never remember what anyone is wearing. I remember the shape her hair was in at the time. She was having a bad hair day At first she was standing with her back to me and I couldn't see her face. Then she turned her head and I saw her very beautiful face in profile. I saw that her eyes were green. I never notice eye color. He eyes were wide and sad at that moment, and somehow the bad shape her hair was in -- quite atypical for her, it turned out. She was usually very well-groomed -- just made her more adorable. I wanted to rush to her and fold her into my arms and take care of her.

She really was breathtakingly beautiful. We became rather close for a short while. I remember her face as vividly as any face I've ever seen. Every contour. Other women I've known have been just as beautiful, I've been much closer to some of the others, but I don't remember their appearance as vividly. I have no idea why.

In the 1990's I joined the house staff of the Promenade Theatre in New York while Steve Martin's play Picasso at the Lapine Agile was playing there, about a fictional encounter between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso at the Lapine Agile, Picasso's Paris hangout, in 1904. I loved that play, I love it, I spent many evenings in the back of the house watching it, several dozen evenings and matinees, easily. It was this play that helped me to feel relativity, physically feel it, and I haven't stopped feeling it since then. It makes me a bit woozy at times but it's worth it. Leaving the theatre after having watched it for the very first time, in the midst of New York's blizzard of 1995-96, I literally felt as if I were floating above the sidewalk. I slipped on the snowy crowded sidewalk and fell flat on my backpack, which cushioned my fall quite nicely. Someone asked me if was alright and I said, "Yes, I'm just fine." I was indeed fine and dandy at that moment. I was great. I was flying.

In the play one of the several women with whom Picasso is dallying at the time says to him, "You notice every woman, don't you?" and Picasso says Yes. She goes on, "Young women, old women, women in wheelchairs," and he says, Yes. And standing in the back of the theatre I said to myself, Ah, yet another way in which I am like those geniuses Picasso and Einstein.

What a strange thing to have said to myself. I notice a lot of very pretty women, sometimes I don't notice much of anyone or anything else. Completely different from Martin's Picasso. But I wanted very badly at the time to feel like a genius and so I clutched at that straw and said falsely to Picasso's ghost, Ah yes. My brother.

Occasionally I'll catch myself re-arranging reality like that, telling myself I share traits with a genius which I do not share in order to flatter myself, or not remembering the year the video of a sad song came out because it matched the miserable way I felt about a woman two years later, who when I was watching the video on the sepia TV was merely a friend and not yet an occasion for neurotic misery. In my mind I take fragments of remembered things, twist them around so that I'm viewing them from a different angle and then paste them back together in a composition like a Cubist painting.

(Of course, Picassso did that sort of thing on purpose, and with actual paint, and before anybody else except possibly Georges Braque, and so on and sort forth, and I don't mean to imply I'm doing anything remotely similar.)

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