It is the week of the October 2021 NY NOW Showcase at 41 Madison. It is evidently quite an affair — a real who’s who of the giftware and tableware market. People keep coming in and out of our showroom amid peals of laughter, insincere reunion-related clichés, and malodorous perfume.
I love the shows. Though in nature they are the exemplar of everything in the world I find repugnant, the shows give me a particular freedom at work that I enjoy. For one, everyone is too busy with their appointments to monitor my daily tasks. Frankly, they’re too busy to even give me tasks, which is lovely. I detest tasks. What’s more, although I usually stretch my lunch break anyway, the chaotic schedule of appointments and random walk-ins facilitates a kind of timelessness in which I can drift away for two, even three hours without anyone noticing. Why am I trying to leave this job, anyway?…
Well, on today’s excursion I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I picked up a prosciutto sandwich and ambled about aimlessly, thinking about all manner of things that are beautiful, but beautiful in that sublime style that reveals the confused link between heaven and horror.
In France, when we were stranded in a strange, distant airport hotel, I went to bed after ingesting a bottle of white wine and a disorienting mélange of surreal German television and Hawaii Five–0. I dreamt that I left Maxine in France in order to go to work, where I could make some money to buy us a flight home. I went to my dream version of William Yeoward Crystal, which is familiar to me now because I’ve been there many times. I met Darren, AV, and Peter there. We were packing up the showroom. There was a room with glass windows and dimmed lights that was almost empty, with a dolly and a few scattered pieces of crystal within it. I couldn’t get inside and it was driving me crazy. I left and Connor picked me up. He said he’d drive me back to France and then come pick me up for work again the next day, and he’d pick me up and drop me off until I could afford to fly home. (I love dream logic.) On the way back to France, he started veering off the road. We drove off the cliff and rolled down and crashed on street at the bottom. The car was upside-down and I crawled out the window and limped to Connor’ side. He was spitting up blood. He was dying. “I’m sorry, Ryan,” he said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t get you to France.” “Stop, don’t say that…” “I’m going now…” “NO! Stay here! Don’t!” “I love you…” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
I was thinking of this when I stopped in front of the Church of the Transfiguration. I was tearing up. I wiped my eyes and sat on a bench in the quiet little courtyard of the church. I decided to just sob.
After a few minutes, when I was composed again, Black by Pearl Jam came on. I skipped to the middle to keep my strangely calming sadness afloat, a sadness bobbing along within me like a jellyfish with an alien glow in the black recesses of a still ocean. “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life/I know you’ll be a star/in somebody else’s sky/But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?” One has to listen to get the full effect, of course, but the lines alone are enough to start a torrential downpour in my heart. I let myself cry again. I sang inside — I don’t know to who, or what, or why I was singing, but the voice that sang was from the first source and center, from the fount of the primordial essence of the universe, and it sang with a pain so succinct that the only possible reaction was hysterical crying, which slowly transformed into hysterical laughing, and like a maniac I lay on the bench in the quiet little courtyard of the Church of the Transfiguration, laughing and crying and sputtering like a strangulated ghost, gentle and blissful and small in the face of the sweet, hulking void of confused experience. As with all true beauty, everything fell away in the face of it and I was left all alone with myself, which is to say, together with everything that ever was, is, or will be.
As I came back to earth, my eyes bleary and my face puffy, my mind switched to the twenty-fifth episode of Death Note, the saddest and most artful episode of the show. L knows he’s about to die. He goes up to the roof of the building to listen to the bells in the pouring rain, soaked to the skin. I’ve stood in the rain like that — baptismally. When he comes inside with Light, he washes his feet, as Jesus did for Judas before he was betrayed. “You and I will be parting ways soon,” he tells him. I went to bed after that episode ended and dreamt I was with L and we were eating cake. It was nice to see him again. I love death, especially the death of characters I love. It reminds me that they are as much a part of this world as they aren’t.
I stared up into the great gray sky and saw colors. The word “invocations” floated through my mind. I want to read Finnegans Wake. I must get my hands on a box of Leonidas Thin Biscuits. My boss brought me meatballs this afternoon. Martin says he’ll use ten thousand dollars of his own money to construct us a recording studio in his basement. I got thrown out of a dollar pizzeria last night. I’m getting inheritance money on either the 11th or the 17th. I’m looking forward to going to Staten Island on Sunday. Autumn is my favorite season, and I prefer the word “autumn” to “fall.”