Saturday, January 31, 2015

Old Friends, New Worlds

She called the theater. She got on the train.

I walked down to Webster Hall where Patti Smith was going to play one of her infamous birthday concerts in New York just before the New Year. She was doing two nights, Monday, which is when our tickets were for, and Tuesday, her birthday. Patti had been most awesome in Korea, and I adored seeing her with the Kiterunner so I was happy to get a chance to see her again.

I walked down the very cold streets after tossing back a double of espresso to get through the evening. My phone fighting with me the entire time. Damn you white phone. Aside from developing a new crack in the screen after I had already had the screen repaired once, now it likes to forget that it has a SIM card. This creates a problem of making it impossible to get messages or make contact with the outside world and since I was trying to figure out where Psyche was this really pissed me off. I kept starting and restarting the phone and finally managed to get a message from Psyche.

“I’m in line, it’s around the block.”

So, she actually made it, is what I thought. Earlier that night I stood in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear. What was most appropriately Patti Smith, but not too inappropriately my age, but not quite goth, but not overtly rock and roll? Then I said fuck it, this is a Patti Smith concert, grabbed my hoodie dress and leather jacket and went out the door. That with my knee-high Docs I figure I had the look about as covered as the look was going to get.

It was like this that I walked in the cold, fighting with my phone, hoping that I remembered where the theater was, and hopeful that I could find Psyche. As I walked down the streets in the East Village, I heard a couple exclaim “Holy Shit, Patti Smith! I would have gone to that show!” and knew I was heading in the right direction. I saw the sign flashing in the night and walked in that direction, scanning the line when I heard “Sara!”

And there she was.

It has been easily, at this point, five years. She is as I remember her, from the cherubic face, to the purple-tinted hair. She smiles easily, her lips bright, and I remember still the first kiss she stole from me almost 20 years ago now. I smile back and grab her, hold her, smell her. I think of all the tumbling memories of her, of all the women I loved so much in my youth. She smells like memories, like Shimer, like love and most definitely like Psyche.

“I don’t know where the leather ends and you begin,” she smiles into my own hair. And like that we enter the concert. We both get club sodas, as I know I’m going to be out late and the thought of being out late, getting up early, and being very hung over doesn’t appeal. We fight in the line to get Patti Smith merch and I buy a hoodie, she a shirt, and then we go to catch up in a corner were we talk to each other, a conversation that we just pick up, a conversation that is just a continuation of all the conversations because that is how this particular sisterhood of friendship is.

We are surprised when the guest opener hits the stage and it is Michael Stipe, singing on stage for the first time in almost 10 years. We are both giddy in our adoration as we listen, tears in our eyes. And then of course Patti. Patti’s show is more real here, her banter more comfortable. She is in her element, she is New York City. She plays the audience, swears at them, spits on them, taunts us. She declares her love for David Tennant, for the men she has known, for Michael Stipe, for her band, for her city. We are wrapped up in her, the entire audience, a swooning mass of adoration hanging on he every word. The old punk rockers and the older hippies sway and dance and jump about-a grandmother with gnarled head of dreads pushes past me to get closer to the stage. It is all lovely, all the loud wonderful exciting confusing cacophony of elements that I had thought might be here and had yet not. Her show is exciting and full and wonderful.

We stay in and dance and laugh and sing along in the dark until the last encore, until the final strains of "Rock n Roll Nigga" fade away and we walk, star struck, out to get our coats and collect our things.

“You know you can come back to my place.”

“You know I don’t like to be away from home.”

I do. I know that. And I miss her and want her to come with me anyway, but I don’t fight.

“Where are you going?”

“Penn Station, back to the train.”

“All right, let’s get a cab.”

I get the cab, take her to the station and drop her home, and take the cab further to my own door. The night is still swimming and I am still pumped up. I still smell like Psyche and Patti Smith and the evening. It takes hours before I finally fall asleep with music in my head; music illustrating a thousand dreams or memories of where we are and where we are going.

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