My Kind of Town

My relationship with Chicago? It’s like Scottie and Judy in Vertigo. I keep trying to make her into New York. She tries too. What else are we going to do on a Friday night?

Now, I am not most people. I am not some people. I am not even those people. I am a person. A person who enjoys the pre- and post- more than the experience itself. Preparation and retrospection, these are the pleasures. So! A night on the Chi-town. I have taken out three potential sweaters and spread them flat on the bed. Which one will make heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals want to get sexual with me? Or want to be me? Coveting is humanity’s only hobby.

The contestants are: a pink one with black French words and squiggles (100% acrylic, which means if I stand next to a heater I’ll start on fire), a green one with huge gray numbers on it (I’ve always said it looks like something a character in a 1992 Spanish textbook illustration would wear – his name would be Amador, don’t you think?), and a striped v-neck looker that belongs in a Patrick Nagel print. I’m not that international tonight, so I pick the third one. Actually I pick the second one until I’m about to leave; then I change into the third one.

It is fuckin’ cold. The weather is a spiteful monk who has decided everyone should be indoors meditating, not outside titillating. I walk the downtown streets, keeping my coat open as long as possible to give optimum exposure to my obscure style.

All dressed up and no one to be.

The more certain I am of God, the less certain I am of myself…a tall ladder leaning against a building, waiting to be used, but grateful for something strong to rely upon. I remember when this started: God squatted down, put his hands on my shoulders, looked in my eyes and said, “I’d like for you to come with me. Would you like that?” I was thinking about nodding when I spotted a box of donuts behind him. After eating them all and throwing up, he asked me again and I said yes that time. But now, two years after, I still tell myself I want the donuts, even though I don’t…I want to know what I am and what I want, and go for it.

I have been walking for an hour and a half, in steel-toe boots (which would be suitable if I was playing kickball with a bowling ball) and a v-neck sweater (my v is numb)…while the cold hunts down my body heat and has its way with it. Why aren’t I in bed, not dreaming about Chicago? 

It’s time to leave. I don’t like this city. It wants to be something it’s not.

Saturday evening, Sunday morning

Yesterday’s weather (“I’m going to rain, I promise – see my dark clouds? I can do it dammit!  I’m going to rain!!”) gave me permission to go to a Jean-Luc Godard double feature.  Four hours of French.  By the end I wanted to send a box of chocolates and a note to Godard saying, “I’m sorry you feel this way, but why make us feel this way too?  Please eat this box of chocolates in one sitting.”  In My Life to Live, the star, Anna Karina, is in a movie theater watching another star, Maria Falconetti, in The Passion of Joan of Arc.  There seems to be a dialogue of gazes between them.  Suddenly, they are both weeping.  They have given one another their grief.  It is both selfless and selfish.  It is the humble majesty of movies.

The movie theater is a holy place to me.  It is this blob of blackness that you can absorb into.  It doesn’t just allow you, it accepts you.  And it doesn’t matter if you dress like a member of KISS, or breathe too loud or have never read anything by Hemingway.  It just wants to tell you a story.  No, it wants you to find yourself in a story.

Churches should be that way too.  Mine is.  It’s a church that meets inside a movie theater.  This morning we sang a song that went: “hold the door for me, because I’m right behind You, I’m following where You lead.”  When we stopped, I felt as though my cells had dissolved.  Everything was going through me, and I couldn’t, didn’t want to, hold on to any of it.  I was separate, but sensing it all.  Rejoicing in the wholeness of the moment, not held hostage by the possibilities of the future…like watching a movie.