Sometimes when I’m brushing my teeth before bed, I hear the traffic on Lexington Avenue through the skylight and it gives me a feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on. Like these pictures taken from the window of a train. It’s a feeling that I get sometimes playing guitar too, singing, and remembering the different phases of that. It becomes its own ghost. Things not only what they are but what they used to be. This is what it must be like to lose your memory.
Earlier, I picked up the guitar and played a song written some months ago. The lyric goes: It’s easier now/to think of you as lost/like summer and childhood and the city as it was. It felt good to play and I wondered if the song was as good as other songs I’ve written. I remembered what it was like to be ambitious, to want people to hear the songs, and do what I had to do to make that happen.
I heard Michael Cunningham, the writer, speak a few weeks ago about ambition. He said that writers feel both ashamed of their work – it isn’t as good as you meant it to be – and confident that it has to be heard. I suppose I still have those feelings – about my fiction at least. But I no longer have the expectation that others should care as I do. It strikes me now as childish, like a kid demanding, “Look at me!” I want to share myself with others but not with any urgency. I guess it’s one of those things that’s become a ghost of itself.