I am at the Reception and keep thinking everyone is drinking water in their clear glasses, cacti and succulents growing on the walls. To health and a happy new year. The food items brought around on trays are so singular and tiny they are like mock food. The servers all wear black but so does everyone who is attending by invite, so does security, so does my friend I have brought as my guest. Is this an equal economy of horizontal community? Where we are not able to individualize the server from the served, the hired from the happy to be invited from the how have you been? From hello to how can I help you.
I am on the list and nobody knows my face as the face of their inboxes yet, of congratulations and if you have any requests and we're thrilled and can you please... But I have brought as my guest my friend who already sees people he knows, colleagues, past employers, demi-celeb artists from profiles in film journals, all inside the party before we are let in. I am his friend and invitation, but nobody is aware that my face connects to my name, not yet. All the emails I signed off lately: Looking forward to meeting you at the Reception! See you tonight!
He did not come alone. He brought with him his friend from Paris, who I encouraged to join us, a name I'd only read about in connection to having a show, experimental French cinema, art galleries and distributors and writing. Peut-être. I think there are olives patterned all over his thin green scarf but they are feathers. He isn't on the entry list, so I gesture to a bench across the empty lobby and offer seating. I am joking. My friend who brought his friend from Paris offers to the Parisian that he can wait outside until one of the many programmers standing in sight is asked, "Guess who is here?" "Outside."
A magazine once told me that Thursday is the best date night because if it isn't what you want then you haven't wasted your weekend.
My friend who brought his friend from Paris is my guest, so I give the security man my name, last first, and we are both in. We split up and I see neither him nor his friend from Paris again, until the night is over.
I spend the hours discussing the differences, difficulties, and delusions of life upstate versus downstate versus out of state, New England against New York with the New Wave of cinephilia. I befriend a girl from New Haven for whom I am overjoyed about her new life in New York, her life in Greenpoint, her dreams coming true after years in non-city city. She tells me she was once on a walk in the non-city and had the urge to get on a bus to leave and be somebody else without telling anyone, not friends not family. I encourage her now to do it if it is still on her mind, just to know whatever it is that is inside the kernel already planted. I have a flash of Chantal Akerman and Barbara Loden. I flood the strangerly gaps of our first conversation with anecdotes and advice on leaving the real city and coming back and questioning what is real about either move: how everyone else's Monday through Friday has averaged out to be the same as it was months ago, before I left, before I came back. I email my new friend from my cab before it pulls away from the venue. "I was wishing I'd gotten your number," she quickly writes back. I feel I have made an ally. I am drawn to her because her hair is exactly the shape and structure I have been musing, a little shorter, a little stronger, a little more Anna Karina and a lot less Greta Garbo. Silence is over for me, I have it all inside from excess. I anticipate our coffee breaks during the weekend's programming, to be inspired by her to take the dream opportunity or for me to inspire her to go be somebody else.
"I am somebody else's idea," I am advised to consider earlier this week.
I wonder how it is that I am shaped as an idea to people. What did they think tonight when I strolled up and started talking, when I began regaling stories of partridges and cabins, when I said at the end of the party that my secret was I have not seen any films ever. Not as you'd think. The film programmers don't believe me. My new ally says not to get caught up in imposter politics, that everyone always thinks everyone else knows more, or everything, about their subject or industry or mutual interests. I think of how I have always asked the close flames that burn me to be open about it, to let me know if they will not hurt me but comfort me with enthusiastic warmth, or to at least do me the courtesy of notifying how they will consume me, entirely without a care, like a pile of dead leaves thrown on the bonfire. Do me the courtesy. Transparency is the affect. I think of how I am not a fire sign but a water sign, unable to be grasped, protean around people, evaporated by heat.