I’ll come like a dog.
Because I love hearing my name. Because I’ll jump at a reason.
Maybe any reason.
And I love the feeling of escape. The slipping away. The vanishing into the thin air.
And knowing I’ve left a Carroll-shaped hole in that old place.
“I think you should come to LA for a weekend,” Samantha says.
It seems like a good idea. God knows I’ve wanted to photograph her again for a long time.
I could go.
But I never know where it’s going.
She’s the only person I truly feel the need to photograph. I think the camera transforms what is good in her, what is perfect. Not outward beauty, but a kind of unspoken and organic perfection bubbling to the surface. A real kind of perfection, found in a person, captured with a camera, enduring forever.
Samantha is like a drug. Or a religious experience.
She wrecks my head.
Some kind of strange.
I figure some things out, and I buy plane tickets. The way I might buy food or water.
Something you feel, something you feel you need, something primal, something necessary.
I don’t know which one she is.
I keep thinking about shoes.
I always wear the same black boots. The same black pants. The same black polo. Or, on my day off, a black tee shirt.
But now I keep thinking about buying a pair of sneakers and a pair of blue jeans.
I think about looking normal.
After lifting, I strip naked and look at myself in a floor-length mirror.
I think about looking desirable.
But it’s the same old me.
In the street in front of my apartment, I stand as still as possible before lighting a cigarette.
I want to quit that too.
Overhead, a plane flies north.
New razor blades arrive in the mail, so I can shave my head again. Like a monk, or a convict, or a slave.
“In Queer Culture, you get used to asking – probably because…well, actually, because there’s a very real chance the person you’re interested in may not be interested in you.” Steph takes a sip of his whisky. “Maybe that doesn’t help, but then again, that’s my perspective.”
I always tried to play it off.
I didn’t want to admit it to myself, because it seemed Creepy. It seemed Wrong.
And if it seemed that way to me, maybe it would seem that way to her.
So I walled it away. In gloom.
Where it remained for a very long time.
And I guess it boils down to one of two things: you either have no control over the things you feel, or you do, in which case it’s just another mistake.
Long before New York, and a lot of the things that pointed the way to New York, I drove across the country with a friend.
I was going to kill myself one night and he called me. I still had the noose around my neck when he told me he was going to California.
“So…you wanna go out west?”
Why the fuck not?
I told the people I worked with the night before I left. I told my parents the morning I left, maybe an hour or two in advance.
I didn’t tell them about almost committing suicide, because, what the Hell.
My mother didn’t know what I meant. She got really flustered and drove off somewhere. My father seemed kind of amused, and a little sad
But every day he would call, as we drove from town to town. The excitement would carry through the phone – five hundred or a thousand miles away. He always wanted to know where I had been, and what I had seen.
In the middle of nowhere, on a flat earth. It seemed like an adventure then.
But I never knew where it was going.
Sometimes, late at night, I think about some of the things that have happened in my life. In the odd order they happened. And the relationship between one thing and another thing.
And it never ceases to fill me with a sense of fatalistic wonder that one choice begets another and another and another.
And you can focus on any one choice – the choice to work somewhere, or the choice to live in a certain city, or the choice to date someone – and see the craziness in it all.
The feeling that you’re just a number rolling around inside a cage, waiting for your turn to be called.
Maybe there’s no reason for anything.
But maybe – and I like to think – there’s a reason for everything.
And everything happened the way it did because that’s the way your story goes.
Maybe I shouldn’t go. Maybe I should stay here and nail down the slippery, slimy thing inside my head that evades definition.
But I’m still crazy.
Still want to take a shot.
Still want to stay up all night.
Telling her she’s perfect.
and telling myself it’s nothing romantic.
But I never know where I’m going.