Birch Trees and Other Worlds

My head is ricocheting thoughts, I have to write again. After walking in the park just now, on this beautiful day. Still cold, but not as cold, bright sun illuminating the trees, like Edward Hopper’s paintings, and I felt my annoyance again at seeing his paintings hang beside others at the Whitney, as if being painted in the same decade gave them anything in common. The other paintings seemed dead and Hopper’s, so alive. The light on the slanting birch trees, in the park, growing out of the black rock (the northern park is so hilly, so full of these boulders and valleys), spoke to me of his paintings, which are about time passing, memory, the light in the morning, or evening conjuring an exact moment. A woman passed by, wearing running shoes, but she was only walking, and talking on her phone. More and more you see this. People disconnected from the perfect experience of being where they are. She walked right by the birch trees illuminated by the most glorious light. (Oooh, even now, back home, I glance out the window at the brownstone facade across the street, the blue sky above it, could have been painted by Hopper.)

In the park, the winter trees are grey-brown, tinged with the pink of  budding branches. Soon it will be spring. The hills we climbed were muddy and brown. There was new grass sprouting here and there. Doe found a stick and carried it awhile. Then a real treasure, a sliver of tennis ball, rubber exposed. She shook it like her ancestors once did a dead animal. She growled when I tried to take it from her.

All morning, and yesterday, and every day I write my book. Sometimes, I think it is a drug, an escape. I’m like P. when he was addicted to Second Life (though he said he wasn’t). I dive into these false memories as if they are a cure for any pain or discomfort. Real men walk by, and I look away, but the fictional re-writing of history fills me with the glow of a new romance. I am writing my own dreams. I read the paragraphs back, and my heart beats a little faster. It’s just what Ive always done with my songs. No, they are not autobiographical. They are altered reality. They are magic spells, and the book is even more so. An alternate universe I give to myself as comfort. I’m sure if scientists were to put wires in my brain and have a look, I’d be lighting up in all the places real experience would stimulate. It’s a wild phenomenon. Tuned in to this act of creating, almost exclusively. I bypass most opportunity for actual socializing and write my way into this other world.

Am I like the woman in running shoes walking past the birch trees? I’m not sure.

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