On a Tuesday Night

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In the twilight nightglow, that hazy swirl of in-between where it could be eight p.m. or three in the morning without you knowing the difference, the true hour I could not tell you. The only thing I know for certain is that it’s winter on Sixteenth Street but I don’t mind—Jackie and I go for a stroll. We’re both guilty of existing in another time though everything old is new again so wouldn’t that make it now? Either way, we walk under the lamplights and artificial window stars beneath a city sky. I love window watching, which is really like people watching from the open side of a snow globe. You can tell a lot about a person by the decorations on their walls or by what they proudly display in plain passersby view—stacks of books, sometimes records, a plant or two. We plan future travels that may or may not ever happen, but I’d like to think that they would. Tennessee then possibly London—that would be nice.

As we walk, it’s ten to twelve or half past one, and the sidewalks buzz with downtown New York life and everyone’s in their own twilight nightglow, congregating on the slushy snow-lined curb when they grow bored with the bar and anemic hipster gangs inside. The sharp night air cuts off the drowsiness, is it night? Maybe early morning. We’re seventeen and young and idealistic romantic dreamers and just hobbling out of a time-warp Southern soul blues and country rock show in the year 2008. No matter the decade, it’s all the same.

Inside the bar tonight it was definitely all the same; might as well have been Robert Johnson himself howlin’ and wailin’ away to keep the hellhounds at bay in a Mississippi Delta juke joint. Slide guitar swinging notes on a string, the player doesn’t have to sing—his fingers say it all. Jackie and I gaze upward because we are by far the shortest (and youngest) in the place, but no one notices—they’ve come for the same reasons we have. On a school night too, I absorb it all and want nothing more, quite unlike how I feel about a typical day of classes. Beer bottles clank with smoke slowly rising to the rafter lights, which very much reminds me of a certain caterpillar perched atop a certain mushroom, and it’s now a hard-rocking show circa 1973. Between the cannabis-laced air and the stifling heat that often results from an overexcited crowd, I begin to feel lightheaded and somehow end up on the side of the stage—groupies and girlfriends and men with laminated badges, the air conditioned breeze teasing me from backstage makes me smile. Behind the cameraman to my right, the bluesman stands with legs crossed leaning against the wall, half watching the band, half watching me watch him.

Middle-aged Penny Lane with the same wild blonde mane is front and center tapping the stage, where’s Cameron Crowe when you need him? I think she’s had enough to drink and I can tell her friends agree, but she’s just having fun on a bitterly cold January night—anything to warm the heart and bones. There are others too who drink and dance and sway with the electric chords, “One more signature to go,” a man says to me pointing at a photo of those on the stage.

Looking around I see that I cannot leave as the already cozy room is made even smaller by the grooving patrons packed from door to bar. It’s an excuse to stay right where I am a little bit longer—in the effervescence of a night filled with sounds and scents and images blended together that will never take place again. Or could it be said that every night like this in the grand scheme of the world’s story occurs exactly so to someone else? In the twilight nightglow of some unclear time or place, it’s all the same.





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