Gershwin melodies pour out from the speakers into my free of charge, five star hotel suite. The busboy enters pushing a small trailer topped with an assortment of exquisite culinary temptations and steaming filter coffee. The mélange of aromas and music trigger the neuron neighborhood with the Hollywood classics archives and transfers me momentarily to Tiffany’s; mental note to drop by there before I leave for the west coast. My palms are getting sweaty. I rush to the bathroom for a last check of my face. As I make an intense grimace - an emergency face muscle relaxation technique- while washing my teeth for the fourth time, the doorbell rings. Why does everything happen either at the same time, or never at all? What happened to the sequence of events? I call it the ‘quantum living’ syndrome.
Pouring coffee in fine china and managing not to make a clicking noise when you are so nervous feels like walking on tight rope with a cat on your head. The young man from e-Lit is both witty and attractive, making the interview even more challenging for the hormonal agoraphobic rookie of the opposite sex, that I am. However, UPR (Universal Positive Reinforcement) has been activating my Xanax on time and my voice is actually doing an optimal job. The frozen rest of me is quite impressed.
Childhood memories, one quote I have stuck on my fridge to read every morning, a famous woman I have been admiring forever, where do I draw my inspiration, an outlook on the crisis’ impact on creativity, and so on. Q and A flew like the Hudson on a rainy spring day and our direct eye contact indicates a connection confirming the positive outcome of today’s endeavor.
No matter how many times I will do this, it will always be my first time. I have been writing all my adult life. It’s my way of self-healing. I write at work, I write at home, I write in the bus, on lines, in waiting rooms, on papers, smartphones, back sides of bills, napkins, me. One day, I just happened to be more daring than self-conscious and sprinkled with luck. After winning the competition, everything happened in the speed of success. Publishing company, trip, money, recognition, meetings, screenplay, production house, lights. The ego-boosting appreciation and confirmation of my talent was sweet, the fuss and interaction, sour. Together they made my taste of choice. I just had to manage fear of crowds with a little help from the pharmacy and eliminate the symptoms of loneliness with lots of crowds. It hurts to accept a lifelong failure in bonding with other humans. But creativity is the only next thing to love that can fill the reservoir of existence. Always has been and always will be. Plus, it will never run away with your best friend.
I walked the young journalist to the door, then sank into the huge sofa and turned on the international news. Hundreds dead In Syria today, car bomb in Kabul, South Korea threats, the Eurozone doom, unemployment in Greece to reach 30% by the end of year, floods in Florida, wildfires in Portugal, earthquake in China. I decide to shake off Armageddon with a walk in the park.
“What have you been thinking?”
I open my eyes. Anna is lying next to me. The room is murky. Even though the windows are open, the breeze remains a wishful thinking. This summer has been the hottest and longest I can recall.
“Damn you, Anna, I was at a really good place for the very first time in years! You’re a killjoy!”
“Whom with?” Anna giggled.
“The other me! A pretty, cosmopolitan, successful me! And now, I wake up at the ‘underdeveloping’ world, next to another loser, in the stickiest goddamn summer ever coming finally to an end only to bring more death and taxes… I wanna be that other me, but the only common things I have with her is imagination and agoraphobia”.
“You are experiencing the end-of-summer side effects. You are brainwashed with a nip-tucked version of reality that turns shitty packages into sexy six-packs, jobless into topless and existential vacuum into ‘vacation’. Summer is like the mirror that makes you look thin to buy the dress that doesn’t fit.
“Down with summer, thumbs up for Donna Summer!”
“Down with g-string theory!”
“I want back my long nights, the dark knights, the clouded skies, the cold wind and the rain that keep my complexion young and beautiful! I miss the mystery and the poetry of winter. I miss missing a warm embrace!”
“Down with harpooning, up with cocooning!”
“I want knit sweaters and fury males! I want layers of clothes and layers of thoughts!”
“If winter is mind’s gym, summer is the cryogenic HQ for resolutions.
“The Purgatory of rationality!”
“The incubator of procrastination!”
“The cemetery of good decisions!”
With Anna, we know how to have a blast out of nothing at all.
“Next week the beaches will spill the protester’s tanned versions back into the streets, holidays will be demoted to unemployment, the homeless will flood again the city, violence will start anew and we will be knocking doors for a job, hoping for a tiny tear on the fabric of jinxed space. But at least, no more standstill on reality. The only things I will miss are the empty streets and the healing power of the sea.”
“So, what do you say about my daydreaming of a successful me?”
“This summer inflated us with hot air only to see us crash on the hard pavement of autumn.”
Anna is the last human close to me who hasn’t yet emigrated. I often rehearse the moment she announces it to me and always get nauseous with the thought of being left behind. I feel too young for closures and too old for new beginnings.
The August issue of e-LIT is lying on the coffee table and I am as real as this coming September.
Athens, 30 August 2012