The attic is full of papers and photographs mostly. Some boxes of old clothes and shoes. A few computer carcasses. I went up there looking for a dress I remembered (wasn’t there), then recalled I’d promised Alison to look for memorabilia from the Ruben Blades years, for the archive she’s putting together for Harvard. I found piles of polaroids, notes, and postcards. One from Harvard, actually. He was going to school there, getting his masters. I was living on East 78th Street, at the time, in that little room I called an apartment. The stuff is all of a personal nature. Is it of value that he says things are going well at school? Then again, I don’t know about Harvard, but people seem mostly interested in the personal histories of those they admire. I guess the public stuff is well documented. The personal is all rumors. Or it used to be. Now there are sex tapes and photographs of more than you want to know about people you hardly recognize. Still the truth about others is not easy to know, even with visual proof of what seems to be true. We remain mysterious. Even to our closest friends and family. In large part, even to ourselves.
Once up in the attic, it’s hard to stop. I missed my yoga class reading a diary from when I was 15. My God. What a depressed and tedious child. I’m surprised my parents didn’t have me committed. And the grammar. I thought it was cool to say “me and so and so.” It seems I went out every night when I was 15. And boy-crazy. My God. It made me anxious to read.
Boxes of diaries, poetry, music, lyrics, love letters, sheet music for songs I don’t remember, press photos, stacks of press, posters, photographs of boyfriends, best friends and people known briefly. One of a tender kiss with a boy I don’t recall at all. It’s a whole life up there in the attic. It all feels as long ago as dinosaur bones. I’m glad to be done with it. The past.
This life is mine now. I meditate, ride my bike, work in the barn that is my studio. I run in the late afternoon, sometimes with Meryl. I speak to my mother most mornings. Long phone calls with Kim in L.A. I meet my sister for lunch in town, hear news of my incredible nephews and niece.
I visit my parents about once a week. We have lunch at a local diner. I ask my Dad about the Yankees and his physical therapy. I watch him walk with his new stride. Since his stroke a year ago, he’s slowly gotten more comfortable with the new walk. He seems to throw himself forward, his right side racing just ahead of his left. He’s beautifully stubborn and unselfconscious. He charges ahead.
I see movies with Paul in the afternoon. When we’re not working on music in his studio on West 93rd. He can figure out how to do anything. I come in to work and he’s got the film on two screens. The music is synched. It’s my favorite work of all time. I know just what to do.
Every night the phone rings late in the evening and it’s D. We talk about our day. We talk about the weekend. Even on a Monday, we talk about the weekend. We’ll drive down to the beach, have breakfast at the new place, swim, take a nap in the hammock. We’ll take photographs, download the digital images to our computers, where they will remain until the computers die natural deaths, never to be shoved into boxes or stored in an attic.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. How rich and happy the present is. How full of everything I’ve ever wanted. Why does it take a trip through the dusty past to remember?