On the Long Day Closing

I have not slept more than what I think may have been a few hours.
Too many alarms and snooze alarms and delayed alarms went off for me to keep track of their timing. In my memory, they each sounded differently. They were not my alarms.

My memory is my alarm, meaning an anxious awareness of danger.

My memory has been disarmed, meaning to deprive the power to injure or hurt.

My face is dry and my throat is parched and I have a new bruise on my forearm but I do not dwell on these things. They are not alarms, they are just memories. Have some water and your head will clear.

At lunch I drink two glasses of water waiting for my host. The Editor-in-Chief of the magazine, the one which begins with a V, as in very successful, as in very well known, as in voluptuously prestigious, comes over to our table to say hello. I later learn he also owns the very restaurant where I am being dined. I am introduced by my full name and repeat to him my first as a proud validation as he and I shake hands. He is jovial and good with eye contact, and I admire his well-swept hair, its volume. My Cobb salad is valuable for its appropriate portion size. We have a great view from our table in the elevated ring, front row and center to the stairs leading to the bar, to the hotel, on the other side of the valley of Others.

My memory is still disarmed and my body remains tired despite the Cobb's value in my digestion.

At the reading I arrive early and secure two seats in the front row; soon the room is at capacity to listen to McKenzie Wark in conversation with Chris Kraus regarding Kathy Acker. Chris reads material she may or may not have read verbatim when I heard her earlier in the year at another New York college's public seminar. I know the tall blond man sitting on the floor in front of me but we have not said hello. The room is full of cool, red wine, and pretzels.

During the Q&A, I take note of the other spectators giggling or rolling - how dumb - unbelievable - who is she - whispering and gesturing to each other with body language. They are immediately challenging whichever audience member dares to speak into the mic, the room feels full of evaluation.

This is college.

I wonder how many of us in the room are not students.
Including myself, I've lost count.

At the end, the reading breaks into a line to meet Chris and purchase a book while the rest of the room globs off into social circles, full of surprised greetings. I see several people I know but do not get to approach, or with whom I do not want to exchange surprises. I find myself in two circles made by people I don't know, and while I consider contributing something witty to say, I am lost in their interpersonal histories and instead I consider how to leave. The line is too long to say hello.

I am tired.

Wark steps into our circle momentarily and points to the ring he is wearing, explaining that it is the same shown on the cover of I'm Very Into You: Correspondence 1995-1996. The book collects Wark's emails with Acker that briefly happened after they briefly met in his native Australia, although it wasn't published until twenty years later. "I think I figured out what it is," Wark tells us. "It's a fly." We all look at the large silver ring on his pale hand, unmistakably shaped like a fly.

I am still tired.

At the subway station on the way to the holiday party, I tell my friend sincerely that I think he looks good, is looking good. I laugh when I suggest that it would be funny if we found ourselves on separate dates at the same restaurant at the same time. We laugh when we find out we have just been with other people. 

I am still disarmed.

At the holiday party I discuss film connections to mutual friends with someone I exchange emails with before leaving. Turning to go, I see the director whose guestlist I was snuck onto at the film festival by my friend who is no longer here. Not just not here, but won't be here. I wonder if seeing the director would remind me less of death if I had actually gone to see his film that night at the festival. If instead of changing plans for the night I had used the guestlist pass as one of my friend's last favors for me, one of his last memories for me.

I am still tired.

At the birthday party at the social club hidden in what looks like a residence, I arrive on time and give my name at the door. They take my coat and I begin to roam the house, unsure of where the birthday host is located. On the second floor I see nobody I recognize, but some people are gathered in plush chairs in a room; the third floor is similar but the bartender tells me they're hosting a private holiday event involving cookie decorating. I wander between the chambers of luxury and mystery and slip into a bathroom where I become more aware I may not be properly dressed for a private birthday party in a private social club. My sweater has a hole in it, I have a silk scarf tied around my neck, and jeans that are nearly seven years old, with a hole in the inner thigh that grows when I do. But I'm wearing black loafer heels, and they make me feel acceptable to pass for posh.

I am disarmed.

Finally I find the birthday girl. Our connection, who I have known for over a decade, introduces me to a circle of his male contemporaries. The first introduces himself by his full name, which I will think of when he later talks with deep agitation about the debutante ball where his high school girlfriend debuted. I exchange info with another male contemporary who suggests we attend The Moth together, which I enthusiastically agree upon, even though I am simultaneously considering how to not set up a date with him.


On the way out of the posh party, I run into another friend I've known for over the same decade, who I have run into and written about before. He tells me he recognized himself from that piece and I am surprised; I recall he had joked that nobody wanted to read my poetry. My memory. We laugh. We discuss writing and literary agents and not reading well-known political journals while standing in the hall outside the room with the party. He tries to get me to go back in there with him, now that he's arrived, but I really have to go, I am tired. I don't admit why, although I consider it. I tell him I don't want him to be my agent and he says he would not want to be either. We make plans to make plans to have dinner.

I am tired, I am disarmed, I remember everything but can't remember if it's correct.