The room was dark and there was mathrock noise thrashing about onstage, highly calculated mediocrity. There were too many bands before the headlining act and I was feeling guiltier and guiltier for duping my roommate and his prospective girlfriend for coming along. There were seven people in the audience in total, more filtering in as the evening went on, but everyone was covering their ears or following my lead and attempting to make the music bearable with a little help from the upstairs venue's bar. My medication was draught can Guinness in a plastic cup, and I should've just opted for some Sammy or something that didn't necessarily require a chilled pint glass. I turned to Russ between songs -- up on stage, the lead guitarist was overtuning a string and telling us the title of their next song was Man's Liberation In The Summertime When The Sky Is Falling And The Birds Have Been Thrown Asunder Like Leaves To A Westward Heroin Breeze -- and informed him that I needed to be excused: the beer was taking effect.
I made my way past the stage, into the bathroom, crashed on the toilet. The door had to be held closed with an outstretched foot, but this is a practiced position I'm well used to at these clubs. My eyes wandered around the bathroom graphitti until they settled on a ripped piece of white paper (likely a former sticker promoting one of the area's long forgotten indie acts) that had been written on in blue ball point: Where were you that Saturday when it rained?
So I thought on that for a while. This was a highly specific Saturday, one that could've occurred with any rain of the year: a winter drizzle that froze the streets solid could've kept me inside, afraid and alone; a summer downpour could've drawn me out from under the eaves and, dancing, from Cambridge to Downtown Crossing.
Where was I indeed? I had no clue. I should've been able to recall a specific memory. That Saturday should've been imprinted and singular, apart from any other Saturday, any drab weekday downpour. The only way I could sort this out was through a process of elimination. It was the first thing I asked Russ when I left the bathroom. It was the first thing I asked a lot of people for a long time. Eventually I would recieve a coherent answer or seven. Eventually I would piece it together.
Where was I that Saturday? Drinking chai, thinking of strange fruit. The chai was good. Not too sweet, not too bitter. The song? Good for staring out a rainy window.
Here is the fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for the tree to drop.
this is where i was on the saturday: in the rain. washing my hair in it. i took myself out for a cup of tea and hoped i would see you, but i didn't. at 3 p.m. i fell asleep.
The saturday when it rained, I was sick but running around Jackson Heights in search of a gay bar with Nathaniel the pretty boy organist. He was afraid that the rain would mess up his cover up and hair. We ended up at Friend's Tavern. It was fun.
that day i was home, in bed, reading. like a sloth, like stink decadence, reading all day. rain outside, and me, water, reading in pjs till 9pm - put down my books finally and went puddlewalking
On that Saturday when it rained, I was inside baking cookies with my girlfriend. I swear. I wasn't murdering anyone!
i was in downtown portland. kelly and i were at the rose festival "fun center" in waterfront park along the willamette river. we were already in love, but we didn't know it yet. we were walking under the morrison bridge, and we ran into my friend ben emerson. he asked kelly a question, a sort of philosophical question, that he must have thought was very important, because he asked her for an answer a few weeks later. i don't reme(mber what the question was.) kelly and i moved on north along the park, and soon we went to ride the ferris wheel. it was one of those huge ones where you can fit six people in each gondola-hangy-thing, but we were lucky enough to be alone. kelly told me, "there are some things that can only be said at the top of a ferris wheel." (and we began to descend. when we reached the top of the next cycle, i asked her what she had to say, but she didn't respond).
When the ride was over, we trudged through the soggy, trampled sod-turned-muck of waterfront park, and it began to sprinkle. we headed into the city, towards borders books, and it was a full drizzle by the time we reached the store. we went into the coffe(e shop and drank tea). i had my camera, with tri-x black and white film in it. we took pictures of each other. kelly took one of me looking down and to the side. my hair was wet (and small and curly). i took two pictures of kelly. one of them was blurry, and she was drinking tea. in the other one, she was leaning back and had her hands upside down and backwards against her eyes, the index finger and pinky curled around like glasses. her shirt read, "CA(NADA KICKS ASS)" i still have those photos. you can see bad scans of them on my website, but there are good copies lurking in various places.
kelly and i are living in minnesota now. when we go out on saturdays, we don't go to waterfront park, and it rarely rains. we trud(dge through the snow and wind and ice together. we run through empty classrooms at the university of minnesota and write silly stuff on the chalkboards. we stand on bridges and spit in the mississippi river). we get together and cook potatoes or tofu or curry or soybeans. my hair still shrinks when it's wet, but canada doesn't kick ass on kelly's chest any more. my shirt says that i am confused, kelly's shirt displays a long-defunct radio station from three th(ousand kilometers away). one day a couple months ago kelly and i went to the state fair. we ate cheese curds and looked at baby cows and almost signed both the pro-choice and the pro-life petitions and then we rode the ferris wheel. from the ferris wheel we could see both downtowns, st. paul and minneapolis, but we couldn't see mountains. this was strange; every time i rode a ferris wheel before, i could see mountains. the landscape was desperately, terrifyingly flat, but kelly was there with me. at the top of the ferris wheel we looked at each other and smiled.
where? oh, sitting in a cafe, writing letters to my beloved. no. we were standing in a garden in a park, over the city, giggling in best clothes and waiting to see the rainbow. or, er, inside a secret hideout of sheets and quilts. no, it was trying not to get blown away off the beach that night, shouting through the wind. that other saturday when it rained? in the desert. honest. it was pouring with rain across the castle in the desert and everything went grey and red. (it seems to rain on all good days)
(the headliners, four bashful rockers from Austin, were as good as ever. inquiries of the weather aside, if they want the throne, they will be king. as we left the show, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.)
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