NEW YORK MINUTE
I canít do this anymore.
Tomorrow Iím flying out to Annapolis. I wonít be back before you leave for SoCal. By the time youíre finished there, Iím off to Miami for a week and then the tour starts. You said youíd meet me in NYC, but we both know you wonít be able to make it. We both know youíll almost kill yourself trying.
Weíre doing our best, leaving early, grabbing a sandwich on the way home, stealing time out of sleep when we have to. We leave messages on the cell phones all day long. Checking in. But no matter how hard we try, it seems our lives have stopped intersecting.
In the mornings, we leave notes on the refrigerator. My notes to you are mostly instructions or information. Iíll pick up the laundry. Mom says hi. Remember dinner with Christopher and Camilla Sunday. Will be late, meeting at the institute at 7. Love, Wife.
You write me longer notes, almost letters, telling me about the recording, condensing a whole day of creative agreements and disagreements into three or four pages off your notepad. If the disagreements have been severe, you draw me a little something, a cartoon or a caricature, to stop me from worrying. More often than not, half a page is missing from your note, meaning that it may reappear as a lyric later.
Though Iím not there to see it, I can picture you at the table, with the morning sun striping the floor and highlighting your blond hair. You chew at the pencil for awhile, then inspiration strikes and you scribble furiously until you hit the next stop. Your foot taps the floor in rhythms no one else can hear. I think Iím the only one of your friends and family who doesnít mind you tapping on things. A match made in heaven, as your mother said, when she found out.
The mornings used to be the best times we had, making cappuccinos and toast in the kitchen, fooling around like kids in our pajamas and then weíd end up in front of the baby grand, taking turns playing, listening and racing each others through the music. Iíve had ten years of classical schooling, but music is your element. You live it, breathe it, and the rhythms become your own heartbeat as you play.
Sundays, Iíd wake you up with Mozart and then weíd slip a record into the jukebox your brothers gave us for a wedding present and weíd dance. You taught me how, fifties and sixties style rockín roll and weíd goof around, sliding on the hardwood floor like Bambi on ice. Afterwards, weíd go to church with your parents. It gives me the shivers to sit in the pew and hear your voice, just marking, because you donít like drawing attention in church.
We donít have the mornings anymore. I teach at the local university and it takes me an hour of reckless driving to get there.You canít get up when I do, I canít stay up until you come home; we both need our sleep too badly.
So in the evenings, I eat my lonely dinner, prepare my lecture notes for the next day and then I sit down to write. Long angry letters, asking you why and when. And then I throw them away, because I already know the answers. The music is why and when is never.
Last night, you didnít come home until 4 am. You smelled of smoke and coffee. Cigarettes for your nerves, caffeine to keep you awake on the long drive home. I lay in bed, pretending I was sleeping, pretending I hadnít been crying but you took me in your arms and talked me to sleep with what was left of your voice. You told me you loved me and that you were sorry. All these things I know. All these things are true and constant and not enough.
This isnít forever, I couldnít say it, couldnít make it true in any sense; I love you too well.
When I too can put the music first, Iíll come back.
Tomorrow Iím flying out to Annapolis.