Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Just Kids

Today I went to the library to pick up my copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad. I was so excited when NYPL sent me the email saying it was ready! I honestly thought it would be the glimmer of awesome in my day of pure suck. In keeping with Springtime in New York, the weather today is rain, cold, mist, and grumpy. But I braved it with the knowledge that the book I'd waited for months would be in my hands.

We can all see where this is heading, right? I ran to the shelf, anxiously seeking my number...3240, 3241, 3248... oh hell no we skipped me, number 3245! The extremely awful "librarian" at the desk informed me that since the book had not yet made it to the shelf it was deemed in transit. (Bullshit alert). On such grumpy day I wished someone to do their job, be nice to me and just check the incoming shelf. But when I suggested this all I received was attitude and a sassy hand-on-hip placement. I was dismissed with a flick of a hand, and out into the street I went.

A somewhat ridiculous tear filled walk back to the office and some subsequent pouting, I picked up a used copy of Just Kids from the give-a-way shelf. Since I work for the company Ms. Smith published with, copies of her National Book Award winner float around en mass. And thank God for them.

This book is amazing! I've only read 70 pages but I'm in love. There is no book review here on Patti Smith's story of meeting, loving, and BFFing Robert Mapplethrope. Their story is hers to tell, and she needs no help from me.

Reading this book has opened up certain vaults I've been struggling to keep closed. I used to be a poor transplant myself. After a terrible two years in college I ran away to London, hoping to find myself and a bit of adventure. I never had enough to eat and stole frequently from the school cafeteria and neighborhood corner store. My friends and I drank at the student unions, flirting with any Englishman who would buy us a drink. We doubled up on student train tickets and slept in stations when we missed them. We trusted each other to get by in countries and cities we had no place being. There was no purpose and no point other then returning home at the end of the summer. Those few months are of course not comparable to the story told in Just Kids, but I created more art and meaningful stuff that English summer then I ever had before.

For a while it carried over. For a while back in Texas I was still a creative person, an artist in my own limited right. But ten plus years later, I find myself in New York, a city of creativity and everything one could possibly want and I'm stuck. Where did I falter? What slipped? When did I stop and why? Is it too late to start again? Or is this just I blog this, I could tweet it: that would be the end, then I would be stuck.

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