Dark as an Illusion

During this time I was a raver, in super-light cargo pants, legs cut wide enough to make sneakers all but invisible, legs dark as an illusion, my torso floating across the dance floor when I glided, my marker the silver cross-strap messenger bag which hugged my body, my life kit, which had the basics, fresh water, a shirt, toothbrush, deodorant, condoms, a train schedule, some vitamins, maybe, in the silver bag which was seen or not seen, depending on the mandates or searches at the door, which stripped from a raver part of his identity, which I say only so that you have some sketch of me, so that you know what sort of character Sailor chose from the multitude at Lakshe, a place where every stratum lived in cross section, in a liquor-soaked layer cake of Manhattan subculture… where gay men, club kids, hipsters, cigar-smoking businessmen, Raga fans, hippies, cosmopolitan swillers, and all the rest, could co-mingle without static,  in a common smoke, the out-breath of everyone, the hot speech from the bar spoken between exhales of smoke, the ragged screams of “DeeeJaaaay…” from the dance floor parsed in with exhalations, the whole room smoke, as if the microscopic particles of our lungs which parted us were again connected on the air of the dance floor with the particles of others, even those who observed each other from far corners of the room… so that no approach was unfamiliar in a shared a cloud of celebration, of self-destruction, of common odor… sold cheap for us to burn, sold from behind the bar, which was stocked with hundreds of identical packs, each one a shiny universal object which made us not just a party, but a culture… and gave Sailor, who was shy, a reason to walk through a cloud of damp smoke and ask me for a light.

The room was loud.  “Can I get a light?” was the only question that would have made it to my ears over drum and bass so loud it shook the metal door by its frame.  No excuse me or polite phrasing would have punched through that volume.  It had to be basic, clear cut.

Asked by a gentle lady, the question coming not as a practical question, as I have said, but as a role played, a line delivered or an identity taken on to make her the person opposite whoever I might have been, whoever she might have thought I was, none of which mattered the moment I stepped up from the bench where I was hunched over and resting, catching my breath and smoking at the same time, a paradox only club kids know, to stand up and give her fire which lighted her face and mine, which made our bodies melt into the darkness, occluded as they were by the limits of that orb of light, as her lips kissed the cigarette, and called into question every last damn reason I had become what I was,  called into question an identity which took years of dancing in dark smoke filled rooms, years of raves and warehouse parties, years of raging on drugs and floating on waves of liquor, years of changing into the person she’d sought, so I could become the epitome of that scene, the very person she’d go to for a light, before I’d even known who she was…as if she’d existed as a spark of intuition, years before, in some place so deep in my body I could never name it, that thing which drove me into years of becoming, a self-obsession sublimated into movement, pure form, funk, a thing so strong it nearly broke me, made me as I was, now illuminated by the same single flame shining on the face of this beautiful woman who had created my decade-long reality in a single moment, in a moment of choosing what to wear or how to walk or whom to approach, a choice which had in an instant yielded the same effect: a meeting of hearts… an event which made me, the egoist, the raver kid, the dancer, the fool, for a moment, crumble, dissolve…disappear.

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