Friday, February 11, 2011

By Night In Rome

Bolano's books are chock full of loneliness and despair, punctured by moments of insight. By Night has a number of these. Arguably, the whole book is one such moment, as the framing device is the deathbed ramblings of a Chilean priest and minor critic, to it sounds like, whomever's in the room. But, there's also the moments where the Chilean priest interacts with people who have left their marks on history, like Neruda and he merely looks and finds nothing.

There was a bit of a mirror in my own life. I came back on public transpotration from seeing Darkest Hour on Wednesday night (which explains the rushed feel of the post) and, because public transportation was not working so well, I missed every single one of my stops.

See, the venue is a 15 minute walk from a train station, which isn't bad and having walked up and down the way the last time I went to the venue in November, I thought I would know where to get off. Ha!

The first time I missed a stop it was because I was didn't know where I was. Owing to upgrading the train system, buses run along the metro lines from 9:30 till midnight, and would occasionally drop off the person a block or so away, which I didn't realize until I was pot committed to getting my butt on a bus.

So: I miss my stop and get to the end of the line. I find my way back to the stop on the bus going the opposite direction, run to the venue and Darkest Hour hasn't played yet. Phew.

Going back, I miss my connecting stop and end up 13 blocks from where I want to be in a part of the city I've never seen before at 2:30 a.m. So, to keep myself company, I turn on my iPod and get walking as best I can remember back to the connecting stop for the final leg of the trip. I arrive at the stop, balls of my feet aching and I wait, shaking in the chill.

And wait.

And wait.

It takes enough time that I'm tired of listening to music. I'm far enough down a main drag that I can see the lights of the vehicles long before they come within blocks of me. The reflections of the lights against my dirty glasses disorients me and nothing comes.

I wait and I look. Two people in 30 minutes leave a bar. Vespas and motorcycles come slowly past me. I get colder. (For the record, cold in this case is I am wearing a tshirt and hoodie when I really should just be wearing a jacket. This is Rome.) I can't imagine listening to anything but Darkest Hour, but I've worn out the two records I have on my iPod (Undoing Ruin and Deliver Us) tonight, so I pace.

I begin talking out loud as a concerted effort not to fall asleep. I talk about anything for the first couple minutes, how cold it is, how good Darkest Hour was, how cold it is and those really basic fundamental things. Within a couple minutes, I ended up talking about girls about specific ones. I just kept talking, muttering, whatever, just to keep something going and my eyes fixed on the road and I started saying things that I believed that I wanted, had to say, but never came out.

No bus.

Lights keep whizzing past.

I don't lean on the asphalt light box, I don't look down at the dark, a little dirty streets or at the sides of the buildings with the graffiti, as days go by revealing its meaning to me. I keep talking. I must.

At this point, I'm going a mile a minute, speaking as if every word, slowly brings me closer to how I feel about somebody about something about the feeling of jesus fuck its cold but I swear I just need warmth just a little something between the regrets that I keep in my head and the feeling that if I want to right now I can disappear and not come up for air or people for the next couple months and

that's when it hits me. I'm as alone as I want to be. Whatever I think about the people that I've found myself attached to or need to hear from, the ugly truth is that I can. I can just not go on facebook or update twitter. It's not like I have a phone number that people know or that my phone even works...fucking cold and look there's something with its lights out and a sign up top coming towards me

The bus! The bus!

And it takes me away. I have to walk a little more once I'm dropped off, but even with Frankenstein in my back pocket, jutting out like a lost Bruce Springsteen bandanna, I feel ten times better and about a billion times lighter.

The title track from Deliver Us by Darkest Hour. Pay special attention to the chorus: And to think we created this monster crawling in and walking out on us...

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