I wake up in a hotel room with its shades drawn. Where am I? The only sound is the laboring vent, blowing way too much heat; when I move, I am a match, I strike static sparks. Sad Indiana fibers. From the gray glow around the shades, there is no way to know what time it is, time of day, and I am somewhat in doubt even of time of life ... I can turn on the TV and escape into that selfless screen but instead I watch my own mind and when I figure out where I am and why the weirdness only deepens.
I'm in a bar, drinking Long Island Iced Teas, college drinks, and eating jalapeño poppers, following forgotten ritual. The current Jeremy looks on with bemused rolling knowing eyes, as if to say "what are you thinking, you idiot?" and "call me when you're done, when you're ready to move on." The Jeremy that is drinking the drink is nobody, is unlocatable. College Jeremy is there as a consultant, insinuating the refuge of memory, traced from this same spot some ten years ago: stumbling back in the dark over broken sidewalks to a white crumbling house, playing incoherent ping-pong on a frozen porch, passing out on the living room floor, in the middle of a conversation about Expressionism and the Simpsons. Current J, bored with this often-watched movie, goes to to his/my overheated hotel room, wonders, am I, are you, a student, a teacher, an apprentice, an adult, an artist, a free agent, a question mark?
I'm walking down Kirkwood Street and the string of pieces I have played over the last month comes to mind, but in the form of names. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Liszt: pompous referents, to be carved in Indiana limestone. All the stress and seriousness of those preparations is suddenly seen as a lump in the past, and there is no purpose in the past, only in what you mean to do, are doing at that moment. At the moment I am carrying coffee through the gray cold day, which seems like very little to be doing. The coffee is cold. The music itself is unlocatable, at that moment; what, then, is the purpose of all I have done?
I am in a dark cab. An orange low moon on my right, the city skyscape on my left, we whir along the Triboro bridge, in the curved barricaded cab, there, again, I'm feeling a prisoner in its lumpy bumpy back seat. Periodic potholes, and my laptop flies all over my lap. The person whom I would like to tell about this experience, which is nothing, is nowhere; I lift my cell phone but haven't the heart. The History Channel billboard as always stares across the toll plaza. We curve around a ramp onto the FDR and there is the same jostling of lanes, the same contracting, expanding galaxy of brakelights. Same same self, same same ritual, but I'm a bit confused, I guess, not to find myself there in the same moving place.
I am walking out onto the stage of Carnegie Hall and find myself in the geometric center of everything, at the crux and focal point of both the orchestra and the audience and staring at the arrayed symmetry. Everybody's eyes crossing the space diagonally, in every direction. There is just the piece, that's all. I have to find it, that evanescent miracle of notes and thought, that culminating encapsulating text of human history, at that very moment, at 8:32 pm, on that bench, at that very place; that is, after all, the job. It is there, I am radiating it out, but while I am playing it, does it stick to me? Only a few moments later, it seems to be done, I am on and off stage at once ... the moment flickers, flares like a match. Only afterwards in the eyes of a friend, only then time becomes event, the flow circles, centers around itself, the piece comes back into view, and those eyes hold me in place long enough to know who I am.