I would not wish the feeling I have this morning on any man or beast under the sun.
I’m sitting in the window of a beautiful hotel in Chicago. Out the glass is the fairest city of them all; I’m on Chicago Avenue no less, and there is the wide street, there is the church and there is the steeple and open the shade and see all the people. My last Quilty shoot taped this weekend, but it’s not the bittersweetness of that that is making my heart ache in my chest. It feels like a brick is sitting on me.
What will I do? Whatever will I do and what have I done, leaving this place?
I’ve fallen for Washington. I’m having a love affair with that city and I’m pulled there. When I came to Chicago I was a lump of un-molded clay. I was a child, twenty-one years old and afraid. In fourteen years here the city formed me into a person I’m more or less proud of, though I did plenty to be ashamed of. I became a poet here, going to the Green Mill slam week after week, year after year; it was poetry school, I majored, I might have even graduated. I made (and witnessed) some of the best art of my life with the Neo-Futurists for five years after that. I was married and divorced here. I moved from the north to the south and in the south, found a me I loved to live with. Quilty was born here, too; born and ended, at least for me.
When I moved to Washington by way of New York, I arrived in that city with my shape. The safety of that, the relief, not being a lump of clay, it makes me want to stay there. It’s easier than when I arrived in this town. But I went to the Mill last night and did poems; I slammed and won. And at the end of the show — that magnificent, enduring, eternal show — I had the honor of closing it with Marc and Baz, blending in a Larkin poem with Baz on piano and Marc bookending. It was nothing short of sublime. This morning, I feel insane to think I would not come back here, to that show and so much more, in June. My heart is a terrible, wretched thing. You do not want to be me, I assure you.
All of these words, more or less, were written in my journal before I began this post and perhaps they should’ve stayed there. Too close the bone, maybe; maybe maudlin, even. But someone wrote to me and thanked me for being vulnerable and if you like that or appreciate that, my friend, this is for you. It doesn’t get more vulnerable than this. I’m vulnerable here at the window, two cities pulling at me, two paths in the woods and no clue, no clue.
I leave in a matter of hours for Iowa to tape the TV show for a week and a half. Perhaps going to yet another place — to my birthplace — will soothe this pain and perhaps on those landlocked shores I can decide. It’s nearing time to decide, indeed, and I’m looking up at the sky. That, at least, is the same over us all, no matter where we are in the world, wherever we are in America.