During a particularly purple time in my life where the world had a sort of grayish twilight feel to it, I drove between Houston and Albuquerque about two or three times a month. I thought it was a girl in Houston. And some of it was, but the girl was a lesbian. She still is. And we were in love. But only in the sense that we were in love with being in love. If we weren’t living in a purple twilight, we would have seen how ridiculous we were.
“Picking up sound on the interstate. I am my breath letting in waves.”
I worked the night shift in Albuquerque at a residential treatment facility for disabled people. This meant that I was up all night watching cable and standing outside watching the sky while the residents slept. I only worked 3 days a week. I hardly saw the residents at all. When I left in the morning, I couldn’t ever make myself go straight home. I drove out to the volcanoes on the west side of town to watch the sun come up.
“There will be a time when the sleep I’m in.”
I have always thought that living across the street from the nice house was better than living in the nice house. That way when I open the curtains in the living room, the view is of the nice house across the street rather than the plain house I live in. I felt this way about the volcanoes in Albuquerque. The big tourist trap is the Sandia Mountains on the east end of town, but the view from the Sandias is really flat and opaque. It’s just really high. The view from the volcanoes is the giant red faced cliffs of the Sandias. There is hardly ever anyone there.
“Covers me whole. Covers me thin.”
I have a great admiration for people that write long narratives, because I think like a songwriter. All of my memories are jumbled in metaphors and the timeline is inconsistant. Things that haven’t happened yet always make it into the story. When relating past events, references to people that weren’t around at the time keep surfacing. My observations are imbued with impossible hues and salient contradictions.
“I know I’ll wake up old. Forgetting which box this is in.”
And then I am in West Texas somewhere. Not the I-10 West Texas, but closer to Lubbock. It’s a long drive and I had to stop somewhere. I always liked stopping in tiny picnic areas in the middle of the night. I would lie on a picnic table and watch the sky. Fantasizing about the way things ought to be in my purple twilight.
“How I will keep you. Just how I left you.”
Or maybe I would stop in the desert just east of Roswell in the desert moonscape. Nothing is real. In the moonlight, you can hardly see your feet on the ground. And there is so much alive and moving just beyond the ring of violet dust.
“My daughter once told me I know a lot.”
And all of those long nights, I would have long discussions with my children just out of sight in the backseat. I would tell them about everything in my purple twilight. Covering my words with incongruous sheets of wisdom. I could hear their breathing. I couldn’t ever tell if they were listening. I loved them so much it hurt. They weren’t there yet.
“It made me feel fine. Made me feel quiet.”
I could have driven forever. But mostly the destinations on both ends of this trip were a fantasy. And really anyone that knew me during this particular period of my life might be able to verify that this is exactly the way it happened. But mostly they’d be lying, because I didn’t really tell anyone anything. I talked a lot. But I don’t think there are words…
“If you said it right. Instead of painting words white.”
The instrumentation is so beautiful. The lonely drums with brushes and hardly any metal. Just a lot of dry scratchy coughs. The guitar in a simple strum with the strings pulling every ounce of sentimentality from the lyrics. And I love vibraphones. There is something very satisfying in the sound of the stereo unison vocal. And the harmonic combination and timbres of the vibraphone, vocal and strings in the chorus melody is my purple twilight.
Or is it our purple twilight? Did we ever share that light? Or did I just make up all my own colors in my own palette? Repainting my one canvas in the thousands of miles I drove.
“How I will keep you. Just how I left you.”
You’d think that our lives would have some kind of consistent narrative. But we always make up the story to end as if it were for the best. And maybe that’s true. But we always seem to remember a place mostly for the reasons we left it. Maybe we do the same when we leave people too. Forgetting all of the magic in a glance. Conversations we never wanted to end. All of the playful anticipation of life in the act of discovery. Where does it all go?
Don’t wake up. I never want to miss this purple twilight. The muted grays of dawn. The peripheral absolute black of the stars. The warm glow of faces I have been waiting to see. The long conversations about subjects not worth remembering. How everything was perfect and right.
“Come on. Say it right.”