How do I start this? Where do I begin?
We walked out of the Roseland after the Of Montreal show (which was pure unadulterated insanity) into the cool night air. It had been a perfect day; I couldn’t imagine it getting any better. We had fucked like rabbits, eaten well and walked around the city for the whole afternoon. All day she had been telling me she had a surprise for me, a date…so to speak.
You can drink there, but you can’t buy alcohol.
You can eat, but you have to bring food.
Better go to the bathroom now because there isn’t one.
She had never taken anyone here in her life.
What the fuck was she talking about? Needless to say when we walked into Duane Reade to buy a six-pack of Stella (nine dollars, can you believe that shit?) and some Cheez-Its, I was excited. I carried the bag and smoked a cigarette as we walked toward our destination.
She walked into a lobby and up to the man behind the desk. The place was nice, perhaps too nice for us to be there. She said that we were here to see someone and he said, “You must be N, the door has been left open for you.” We got in the elevator and she told me that this was her aunt’s apartment building; she was letting us have the roof for the evening.
The door opened and the scene floored me. We were in the middle of the city, Empire State Building on one side and the Chrysler on the other, I was breathless. We sat down. I used my Jets lighter (I hate you) to open the beers. I used the same one to light our cigarettes. It was chilly. I zipped up my jacket. I looked over. She was looking back at me.
I don’t know what happened up there. We talked for two or three hours, talked about everything. She kept looking at me; no one has ever looked at me like that. I told her about the unhappiness, the depression and the fear of the future. I told her everything, things I wanted to and some I didn’t.
Something happened on the rooftop on that Friday night.
I have always been fascinated by the secret lives people lead on their rooftops, the things they talk and think about when there is no one around. Looking down at the ants walking the streets makes you feel…something. There is no definitive or specific emotion, but as I stared up at that starless sky, I felt something.
I felt as if I had stepped over a line, as if that night I died and someone else was born in me. I floated in the sky and looked down at the two of us. I heard myself explaining my pain and failures, for some reason it was all starting to make sense. She did not cut me off, allowing me to expel my demons into the crisp air. I worked out my troubles simply by giving them words. Suddenly everything seemed so easy, like it made perfect sense. She just stared at me, her eyes piercing into me.
The phoenix burned that night and a man crawled from its ashes. He looked so vaguely familiar in the mirror. The face still bearing the same impression in my mind, but the eyes had something in them…a burning. The growing pains vanished, fear disappeared and the reservations and regrets were left by the wayside. The past is behind you, I finally saw it. It was time to grow up.
Enough, Patrick, it is time to become a man.
It looks so trivial written in this white space, but only you and I know what happened. No pictures were taken and no souvenirs were removed. Nothing was left behind but ashes; there was no evidence of our encounter. Nevertheless, you saw something in me that I have never seen before. That night, was the first time I caught a glimpse of who I was to become. I could still become the man I am supposed to be. It is not too late. I felt something new gaining strength inside of me…
Suddenly, for the first time, I was unafraid.