Back from Barrington, Rhode Island. Leaving yesterday at South Station there was a little blonde woman going ballistic on ticket seller. Rants about manager. Storms off, mutters, “immigrant.” Nice. Told seller to hang in there. Ballistic woman would have been cute w/o the racist harpie bit. (I am single, so, of course, standing in a line with nothing to do, I will scope around.) How quickly the nature of one’s gaze can change.
Picked up in a truck at Providence train station by Emma's mom Susan and Emma, with Emma's friend Fiona being back at the beach house. I like Fiona but I think she was scared of me but hopefully she is less so or no longer now. Benny the Puggle was also there.
First we stopped at a friend of Susan's to drop off a coffee and some donuts from the Dunkin' because he is laid up after having his hip replaced. Nice fellow, in his early fifties, in good spirits in an old house, with lots of nautical decor, that had come down to him from his late parents. Then we drove to Emma's grandparents' house. They have two in Barrington--the one they live in and another jokingly called The Breakers, a small beach house right on the water, which is where we were staying. Their regular house dates to the late 1800s, with sprawling backyard, lots of shade, big front yard, like a glen, with all kinds of birds. Saw both a male and female cardinal. A house that makes me, if it is possible, want to return to Rockport even more. I smile and joke and do my charming bit, but in my mind, all I am thinking about, around anyone, even good people I like, is this hell and war I am in, and what to do. The three-car garage, with a powerfully ambrosial smell of cut grass and gasoline coming from it, had a roof that must have been over 100 years old, blanketed in lichen.
We were just going to stop in to say hello quickly, but ended up being there a couple hours. Susan had picked up Fiona. Emma's grandparents knew a lot about me, but they didn't know who I was at first and Emma's grandfather asked me if I was on the Patriots, which he reworked into asking Emma if her boyfriend was on the Patriots, which horrified Emma, who called him disgusting a couple times. These were the nicest people. Emma's grandfather is eighty-six, his wife is eighty, and we talked about books, films, all manner of things in the kitchen, as E and Fiona played Minecraft on the porch. They had only seen one picture of me previously and it was one from 2013 where my hair was to my shoulders and I looked like a wild man and I guess E's grandfather said "who is this crazy person?" They were obviously a lot in love and had been in that house since 1964 and he still mows the lawn on a riding mower despite having Parkinson's and she looks about seventy. They invited me back any time and I just thought they were awesome. Emma would flit in on occasion and it's uncanny what passes between us, even without speaking. I believe that there are energy bonds between people, or some people. We are attuned in a way that...it's just unique. It's palpable. I have many different wavelengths. An infinite amount. I don't share a frequency with anyone, really, on any of them. But Emma has one and it is one I also have and we share that. Sometimes I can just about feel what she is thinking. The timing even of when we ask each other things, specific things, will be strange. Not bad strange.
Then we went to The Breakers to drop off our stuff--or my stuff, really, as the three girls--I'm sure Susan would get a kick out of that designation--had already been staying there. The cottage overlooks a quiet cove that resembles a saltwater river. The far bank is not that far away, but it still feels like the water-y plane is decently stretched. You enter into a kitchen, bathroom adjoining it, then there is a bedroom on the left, with a laundry room containing a shower; there's what I guess you'd call a main room outside of the bedroom, with a couch--where I slept--and a couple chairs, and that flows into a sort of sun porch, also with a couch and a small table. We went to the beach in town, not the small strip out back. It was roasting. Must have been 100 degrees by then. I didn't really want to sit and roast on the beach--no suit for me--as a couple teenagers did their thing, so we dropped them off and Susan and I went to the Shaw's to get cold drinks--root beer, ice tea, lots of bottled water. As soon as the fridge was stocked, the girls called, wanting to be picked up, and after we reacquired them we got takeout from White Mountain Creamery. E and Fiona were adamant I had to try something called an Awful Awful--basically a frappe, it seemed--and we had sandwiches, burgers, and fries back at The Breakers and played Cards Against Humanity on the back sun porch. I finished a distant fourth, and also had been tasked with explaining the meaning of various words to two fifteen-year-olds and a fifty-two-year-old mother, one of those words being "queefing." Eventually I proposed a post-prandial walk, and we went around the neighborhood a couple times with Benny. Emma kept stopping to punch my stomach repeatedly, alternating fists in quick succession. She had dyed her hair blue and it had become silver-y.
The girls went to bed pretty early, sharing the bedroom, and Susan and I sat up talking for several hours, about many things. Emma, my situation, which she knows a decent amount about, and which prompted her to exclaim, "I just want something to fucking break for you." And she told me that Emma loves me so much, but, of course, I also love Emma so much. I told Susan how recently I said to Emma that something shouldn't be lost here. (That last bit was how I phrased it to Emma.) That just because I taught her a lot, didn't mean that she doesn't teach me as well. Because she does. Emma knows what I am. She knows what I am as an artist. She might not yet grasp the full implications, but she knows. That's why when we got home this morning, the first thing she did was read "Fitty," and one saw her response in the last journal entry. She knows the score, the stakes, the possibilities, the scope. She knows what is in play--culture, society, history. That's not me telling her. That's her reading and seeing. And one time she said to me, "You know exactly what you do, you know exactly who you are, you know you do things no one else could, has, will. But even though you know all this, when people in your life don't say things to you, about what you do, it hurts you, doesn't it? Even you need that." And I said, "Yes, I do, my little friend."
She's wise. Not for a teenager--for anyone. And she felt how hurt I was by silence from people, of all people, who shouldn't be silent. She was Facetiming last night with a friend of hers from Sweden, and snatches of conversation would infiltrate other conversations. Kind of an angst-driven, self-involved girl, trying to be edgy, this friend. Typical intellectual, emo teenage stuff. I am sure I was that way a little. Now, I know Emma. I know that she must have been bored. But I also know that she likes this girl. Emma was doing very little talking. But she was kind, she was encouraging, she was, I think, managing a situation and someone's feelings, even if it was annoying, because overall that was worth it, it was a good friendship and this is what she was doing in this particular conversation. It was just very Emma. And I thought, there's something to be learned here. True, other times she's loud and mildly annoying (but I find that I just inwardly shake my head and smile), but that's usually when she's feeling insecure and showing off. I try to show her--in such a way that she can see it herself--that all she needs to do is be herself. That will always be more than enough. But it takes some time to grow into that, to even accept it, if one ever does. She will. She is.
People often think the wrong things about other people, and because what I am is more confusing, and because I am less like other people, or anyone else, than anyone, people are more likely to think the wrong things about me. At the same time, they're going to think things about me, correctly, that they will think about no one else. It's hard for some of these things to be said, without numbers. For instance, a person isn't going to say, without a lot of people saying it, that here is the guy. This is the person beyond Da Vinci, beyond Michelangelo, way beyond them, a person who does not seem to be a human possibility. People won't even weigh in on the quality of a rock band on their own. They don't want to make claims. They want to wait until the claims are being said, are out there, are out there in volume, then they can say those things they think, things they hold as obvious. Saying what I am, truthfully, saying what I actually am, is not a conservative act or stance. Someone might think that I would hang out with someone like Emma because, for instance, I am lonely. And I am so lonely. You could not be more alone. In multiple ways. In a way, even if I have good people in my life, even if I am beloved by millions, I'll be alone. I am a species of one. And that is so lonely. But having lived through what I've lived through, being able to do what I do, if I could just get what I have coming to me, that reach, recognition, life, compensation, what I have been through, and what I can do, what I would then love doing, would make me the happiest person ever. I could be happy. I used to think I couldn't, because of the loneliness, no matter what. That aloneness will remain.
But what I have experienced, and that going away, and finally having gotten to where I am going, with just a few of the right people in my life and greatest confidence, I would know joy like no other has known joy. To the bottom of my being, which goes deeper than other bottoms of beings. But right now, even in this aloneness, I will not have anything to do with anyone who does not compel me. I'll just be physically alone. As I have been. I am not someone who could just be around people for the sake of that. That adds nothing to my life. I can do this. I could go out, for instance, with so many people. When you are the athletic-looking genius guy, who can do the word thing and is funny and fun, you can go out with twenty-year-olds at Harvard, you can go out with forty-four-year-old doctors in Boston, but I will just be alone if you don't compel me. Your mind. I just can't hang out to hang out, though it blows me away that people default to this as a solution and get all prescriptive, or will even ask me how an outing. So long as I am in this situation, everything is the same, pain is total, there is no joy. It's all torture and hell. This situation overrides everything. And doing the whole "hang out to hang out" thing doesn't make me feel less alone. It does the opposite, and it also annoys me and depresses me. Stupidity depresses me. You can imagine the conversations constantly unfurling in my head, what my thoughts are. I don't want to shoot the shit with someone over some matter of imbecility. I said to Susan that I have this dream of having my house back, and a house in Cape Cod, and living this life, watching as the latest "Fitty," called something else, roils the culture, sparks discussion, is hotly awaited on the Friday the latest Fleming series comes out on Netflix. But part of that dream, now, involves me and this person--she has to be out there, this brilliant, kind, deep, amazing woman--I envision myself with, having adult Emma over for a celebration after her new promotion, or getting tenure, or her first book coming out.
Soren Kierkegaard wrote, basically, that if it's not passionate, it's not worth doing. That's me. I do things completely, or I don't do them at all. There are practical odds and ends of life, which I tend to, falling past the remit of this idea. For instance, if you are a publisher and you hate me and I detest you and think you're incompetent and toxic, shortsighted, I'll still do business with you if it is good for both of us. Because that's business. The thing with "Fitty" is, it would become a national story. It might impact legislation. But it would become part of a national debate, and it would move way beyond the literary world. Obviously not if the You've Never Heard of It Review with a circulation of 23 publishes it, but stick it in The New Yorker, and it will go global in a big way. It would lead to money, too, both in and of itself--as a film, for instance, in the book that it would subsequently appear in, for another--and with the platform it brings and what that means for other projects. I know, at the same time, that the people here hate me so much that they could know this, you could somehow impart this to them such that they believed it--not that they have the vision to assess, think, project--that they'd elect to not do business and stick fast to the hate than they would want to flat out reap. That is their wiring. And they are too obtuse, cocooned, lazy, conservative, simple-minded, to realize that they are putting themselves out of business. But I'd do business with my worst enemy. Because all I care about is the ends. My eyes are only invested in that prize. Because that is what is going to matter. But as for Emma, we hang out because she is the most amazing person I have ever met. That is not situationally-dependent with my life. No matter I had going on in my life, no matter how amazing and jet-setting it could get, I would still want to hang out with Emma. I hope I do meet this amazing woman--send me a note if you exist--to always be with, to share a life, a unique journey, pair of journeys, and live as much and as fully human as two people ever have, but I don't know that I will ever have a connection with someone like the one I have with Emma. It's just not a thing that happens in life. So, that's why I hang out with her. And I imagine that's why she hangs out with me.
Eventually Susan went to bed on the sun porch, and I read a book called The Last Best League, which is about the Cape Cod baseball league, and hung with Benny in the main room until 2:30. Benny was most focused on hunting ladybugs--he barks at them, too. After I finally fell asleep in the oppressive heat, Benny decided that we would be bunkmates. I did not come close to fitting on the couch as it is, and then this guy took over some more space.
I was up at 6:15, Susan and I went to Starbucks, she dropped off the truck at her parents', got their car out of the garage, and we were on the road back to Boston by quarter past eight for Benny's training session. We talked a lot about various things pertaining to "Hey Jude," which Emma played (she likes to be DJ)--like the circumstances of its composition and the single best duet Lennon and McCartney ever did--and all kinds of stuff (early Superman comics, H.P. Lovecraft, and Providence architecture; the rattlesnake population of the Blue Hills). Susan asked me about the synapses of my brain and what my head must be like.
In a way, it's upsetting, because when I've barely said anything, it's just the most basic, topical, eleven-year-old Colin stuff to me, people are blown away, they can't understand how someone knows so much, and all I can think is "I have so much to give, I have a bottomless well of things to give, let me have my chance, give me my platform, let me overrun this world, let me out of this prison, this hell, let me and the world hook up, and I will blow the mind of everyone in it, now and forever." It kills me. It absolutely, actually is killing me. Anyway. They went off to do what they had to do, I put a little note outside E and S's apartment door, left them the copies of "Fitty" I had promised--well, promised Susan; I always make a special copy with a special inscription for Emma of each completed work of fiction--and I ran three miles. Was hard in the heat. Monument was closed for climbing. Then I walked another three. They are returning to Barrington tonight (first Susan and her husband were going to have dinner, and Emma had a date with her boyfriend) and left me an open invite. And Emma also texted me that she missed me. Which was funny, and sweet, as it had been two hours. I am not going to pretend to be tough guy here, because I missed her, too.
This evening I walked another mile and saw Hawks' The Thing from Another World on 35mm at the Harvard Film Archive. It was so hot. I don't know why people like summer. Wouldn't you like crisp, dry air, the tinge of wood smoke in it, fifty-four degrees, buttery-sun with copper overlay, trees that look wiser, and a comfortable sweatshirt? Watching The Thing cooled me down a little.
Okay. You have had your day away, but days away are not going to beat these people or their corrupt, bigoted system, get you your house back in Rockport, reach the world, impact, or change it. I want to see you work this week.
Back in Barrington, Susan read "Fitty." She texted me.
S: Fitty made me cry. I love how you describe her eyes. She reminded me of our Emma. Such a beautifully written story. Thank you Colin
S: I read it again. When I like something I tend to revisit. I am having trouble walking away.