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the long way around

The living room is a forest of mic stands and cables. A cup of coffee, a large glass of water and a shallow shot of whiskey sit on the tiny white table. I alternate between them, making sure the guitar is in tune, trying to understand if the chair will creak when I lean my head back on the second chorus.  There is a hush in the room. I can hear my own heartbeat. The lyrics are printed out on a fresh piece of paper, large and thick so I can read them easily even though I sing with my eyes closed and will surely forget a handful of words no matter what I do.

The guitar sounds dry, perfect - even honest. I can play a simple D chord with a long strum, or the side of my thumb and it sounds so different. I record a few takes, barefoot in the bright room. I am going too fast in some parts, and my fingers are already sore from the chord changes.

And then all at once, I am thinking of a show I played in an old factory in Brooklyn, way back when I had just started writing songs almost twenty y…

another fever

A low whistle comes from the windows, left open by little cracks to let some air in. The wind is howling outside. Trees are bending hard, limbs swatting against the cold glass like monsters. E is curled on the couch, her forehead sweaty, her hands splayed in odd poses. I dare not move, or wake her to put her in bed. The fever is less now, and she has a little broth and rice in her belly. She needs that hard sleep, the restorative one that will run all the way to tomorrow morning. 

The call came this morning, her voice shaky. I had planned to get her later, maybe even take some pictures on the way. My Leica sits poised, loaded, next to a small bag with my light meter tucked inside. There is nothing but grey snow and ugly streets out there, just dirty Fords and black BMWs and the occasional Lada. Everyone seems to be gone, leaving behind some old ladies in ancient fur coats teetering like penguins as they carry little bags of potatoes and carrots to their apartments. I can't take any more pictures of old ladies with those plastic bags, at least not for a while.

E is nervous, waiting for me. She is convinced she can only get better if I am the one taking care of her, that otherwise she will end up in the hospital. I tell her how close I am getting as the wind whips up hard on the big streets sending bits of ice against my cheeks. And then, I am already ringing the bell and she is in the hallway. I order the taxi and it arrives quickly. She slumps against me as I stare at the traffic, wondering how quickly we will get home, if we have enough crackers in the closet, and where the thermometer is. I ask if she is feels sick, like she is going to throw up and she points at her mouth. I am pulling the mandarins I bought from a little bag, as they bounce onto the seat and shove it under her chin. She coughs fluid into it and I eyeball the driver. He has no idea what is going on, just picking at his nose and glancing at the GPS. I rest a hand on her forehead and her eyes roll at me. She says nothing, coughing up little bits as we roll onto the side streets that lead to our apartment. 

Upstairs, we clean her up and she crawls under the covers. She looks at me, with that wet kitten face. I make her tea, and when I bring it to her she is already half-asleep. The day turns in little circles, her throwing up again, then resting as we watch cooking shows or parts of films we never finished. I think of taking pictures of the trees or something from the window, but I don't need to take any more pictures of trees. The camera will have to wait. 



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