Tuesday, October 24, 2006


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In April, 1986, I turned 20. I don't know why, but I was freaked out to turn 20. Actually, I do know why: I wanted to stay a teenager! I didn't want to take that step into adulthood. If I was an adult, that meant I should 'have it together'. Or at least have some idea of how to put my life together. I was so very far from knowing any of life's meaning or mysteries.

I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that the meaning of life when you are twenty, is that it's the time in our lives to create meaning: we're supposed to flounder and make mistakes and be hopeless. And anyone as desperate as I was for direction, answers, and happiness is eventually going to find it. I was going to find it because I was looking for it.
And for some reason I was convinced I was going to die when I turned 20. I'm not sure why I thought that. Old habits, maybe. When things got difficult for me, I would often think to myself I hope I die before tomorrow. Then I won't have to deal with the bad thing/event/person. Obviously, I didn't die, but up to this point in my life, I had wished I had a million times.

The weekend of my birthday, my friends had a party for me at Mark's place. Carla, Jody, Scot Dave, Jeff, and his roommate Kristin, and Marty were all there. Jody gave me a beautiful cross bracelet, which I still have, and Mark stopped by the salon on the actual day to give me some beautiful orchids. I had told him about my secret fear about dying. He did his best to allay those fears with his wonderful, level-headed words, at the party.
"Well, you're right. Your childhood is dying, in a way. You're at the start of your adulthood. Your young adulthood. But I think you started that a long time ago. Look at your life, Brian: you live on your own in a big city, you have a job, and a lot of people who care about you. You're doing all the things you wanted to. You took a big risk and came here! And it's paying off." He said.
We partied until late into the night, blasting Avalon and Boys and Girls and Station to Station. I was obsessed with TVC 15 for a while.
Jody and Scot took me to The Cult concert, which was a week before my birthday. Jeff and I spent the day together at his place by Loyola. He went to school there, but was at a cross roads in his life: he was very close to quitting school, to pursue a music career, but not sure if he should or not. He picked me up at the apartment on Racine, and we trained up north. He lived with Ava and Kristin at the end of Pratt Street, next to The Planet of the Apes, as they called it.
"What? The Planet of the Apes?" I asked.
"You'll see..." He said.
The court yard building next to theirs had several odd stones laying around, almost like a Roman ruin of an amphitheater.
"Wow, you're right, it does look like The Planet of the Apes." I said.
Their apartment was large and sparsely furnished, and in great condition for such an old building. Japan, Roxy Music, Paul Young, and Duran Duran posters filled the walls. I was glad to see Jeff put the picture of Edie I painted for him on his wall. We were so obsessed with her. We watched Ciao, Manhattan over and over, and on that day. We were obsessed with the young Edie; the Edie who spent hours painting her eyes and spraying her hair silver and dressing herself. No one dressed like her! And the Edie who invented herself: she was her own creation, and a star for it. Jeff and I were kindred spirits, and wanted to be famous. But our own kind of famous; we didn't want to copy some one else. But Edie 'at the end' was not a pretty sight. I say 'at the end' because she was only in her late twenties when she died, and a million miles away from her New York stardom just six years earlier. When we watched the movie, we talked about how Edie died; how her life changed so much. Her and Nico. We debated how these two stunning, creative, talented women seemed to throw it all away. Did they realize they were on a path of their own destruction; victims of their selves? Why didn't they see a way out? We talked about how Debbie and Bowie and Iggy walked their same path, but found a way to survive life's crushing pain, without drugs, a pain all addicts know.
We left his apartment after the movie, and walked around his neighborhood, and by the lake, on the cool, sunny, spring day.
"I'm sorry I couldn't make your birthday more special, like fly us to New York or something"
Jeff said.
"This has been one of the best birthdays I've had in a while, Jeff" I said with a smile on my face.
I thought about how great it was to know someone that was so much like myself, and how I felt I might be able to leave the difficulties of my childhood behind me, and with new resolve, I thought about how I was going to be an adult.

I've stayed at The Chelsea a few times over the years, where Edie lived for awhile, and always find an old-timer and ask about her.
"Did she pay her bill? I asked.
"Of course!" He said.
"You didn't kick her out after the fire she started, huh?" I said.
"The fires...oh!" He said as he shook his head. "No. She was a beeyootiful girl, a beeyootiful girl."

1 comment:

Aaron said...

I want to visit The Hotel Chelsea someday...(It might be the only place I'll ever be able to afford there!)

Good on you for the Debbie Harry "Koo Koo" photo! Best cover art ever...