Tuesday, May 07, 2013


I’m sitting at a stoplight heading east on Wilshire. In my periphery I see a khaki clad twenty-something plugged into his iPod distinctly floating down the street. He’s a good five inches off the pavement, barely tethered to this plane, music coursing through his blood.

I know this guy. More precisely, I know the 16 year old kid he used to be. Gratefulness lifts the corners of my lips as a memory solidifies….

July 2006. I’m in Chicago texting David to get that wax stuff for my ears so I don't bust an eardrum. I’m afraid the concert will make my ears bleed and I’ll go deaf, because it can happen. He texts back "Saw line of teenagers form around 3." Oh. Teenagers will be there.

We decide to go late, skip the opening bands. I've taken three Aleve because I'm fending off a migraine and the Aragon has shitty sightlines and the Aragon has shitty acoustics and maybe I shouldn’t go.

Cars are crammed into any conceivable space so we park blocks away. My clothes stick to my skin in the muggy evening air. We round the corner onto Lawrence Avenue and walk past the Riviera. Ah, the Riv! ‘Remember the time when...” We start swapping stories and something shifts, muscle memory, we lengthen our stride.

The ballroom is body-to-body, air thick with expectancy. Bypassing the main floor, we head to higher ground, snaking our way, until we're house left balcony, with a pretty great view.

By the time the lights go out I can imagine being nowhere else.

Midway through the concert, I see him. A boy, with a tidy haircut, crazytall for his age, wearing a pure white T-shirt. He stands out in the rolling sea of bodies below. With hands pressed together, as if in prayer, his head sways side to side in disbelief. He is so much taller than those around him. Maybe that's why he stands out, but I don't think so. Somehow, he is just more. With a soulful desperation and a childlike awe, he is going to a deeper place, and it seems, being soothed and rocked beyond any of us.

At unpredictable moments he throws his hands straight up, hyper-extends his elbows and shoots his fingers toward the stage. When the lights skip across the crowd they rest on him an extra breath and he is illuminated. He doesn't quite jump when the crowd collectively jumps. He is separate from this organism, disconnected from mass, directly plugged-in.

Alternately, his hands slide down his face, clenched in fists or stopping to cup his jaw. He grabs the crown of his head, fingers catching in his hair, he pulls.

I can only look for so long, it’s too intimate. I’m stealing into his chest, absorbing something that isn’t mine. And besides, I'm not here to observe or stand aside. I'm here to pry open my ribs, let the lights linger on me, hyper-extending my own heart.

And then they play Hysteria.

And then I pull the wax from my ears. 


  1. Your words both sooth and inspire. A joy!

  2. Love this for sooo many reasons, but those last lines make me want to pry open my own ribs and hyper-extend my own heart ... and pull the wax from my ears. What a gift you have, my friend! Thank you, thank you for sharing it! xoxoxo