There are people to my right who are speaking in a language I don't recognize and they have asymmetrical bars of light shining across them from top to bottom, provided by the sun pouring through the cracks in the horizontal blinds.
From the second floor, the parking lot looks like one of those preposterously large lots you see on the train to New York and wonder how many of the people parked there are actually doing something that matters.
I am sitting a table away from the table at which I chatted with The Scientist earlier this winter.
Today, we shared some breakfast sandwiches at my second favorite breakfast joint and then walked the grounds of an old prep school. I couldn’t resist inviting myself into the music building. Surely it must be locked? If not, surely there must not be classes on Saturday? Wrong and wrong again, Shirley. I panicked and tried to come up with a cover story in case one of the expensive students asked why I was there. “Uh, I’m Ben Folds. I’m here for a lecture.”
The Scientist likes chocolate, wine, movies, the outdoors, and a good conversation. It’s very easy to spend time with The Scientist. I haven’t figured out why she spends time with me, but I HAVE figured out that she is easily impressed. The fact that I was once in US1, a local free newspaper, seems to be the thing about me that’s impressed her the most. Then again, she only knows things I’ve communicated to her in 2015, a year so young that I have only just begun to write it correctly on deposit slips on the first try.
The Scientist knows a LOT about the free local newspapers in our area. I’ve started to see her in the context of an 85-year-old woman in a 27-year-old body. She makes more sense that way. The same might be true for me if you adjust 27 to 31 and 85 to 93. I told her that Bucks County has a free paper called Coffee News in which, each week, a miniature version of their cartoon mascot is hidden somewhere in one of the ads. She was excited to hear this in a way more reminiscent of 85-year-olds I’ve met than 27-year-olds I’ve met.
So, anyway, here I am, somewhere in New Jersey, using a lot of commas. The sun is on the side of my face and I’d surely photograph it if I was me but the face was someone else’s. I smell like dirty hair, The Scientist’s roommate’s SPF lotion, and last night.
I’m trying to relax and allow the smile that’s trying to creep up my face to make its creepy way there. I need some healing and I don’t know in what form it will come. A road trip with The Scientist could have done the trick, but it was not an option. So I took one myself. To nowhere in particular - I just got on Route 27 and drove. All that motion made me realize I was in the mood to be still, so I turned around on Old Road and used other unfamiliar roads to loop back to the town I’d started in. I found a comfortable spot with a lot of sunlight. If a cat went to Wegman’s to get a drink and read a David Sedaris book, he would do it here.
The person across from me just said, “you have to either dress like a mobster or a lobster” and then walked away. At least, I think so. I hope that I never figure out if that’s what she really said or not.
I met Marcella three years ago, tomorrow, or rather, the day that tomorrow would be if there was always a February 29. I’ve told that story. But I haven’t sung it. I haven’t written songs lately (other than the songs I’ve written lately) but another batch will emerge when it’s time. There’s no rush when you’re only interested in writing from the heart. My motivation is to send musical postcards to the future from the most beautiful places I’ve visited.
I went to watch a band last night and the drummer recognized me. He’d watched a song that I'd posted to Facebook. I’ve gotten into the habit of hitting Record and just making something up, an exercise in spontaneous creative expression. In this instance, I had a capo on the fourth fret of my Martin guitar, the outside strings tuned down a step, and a cable connecting it to my electric guitar rig (the home version, including a yellow karaoke machine that makes the most satisfyingly disgusting distortion). I played for two-and-a-half minutes and posted it, dedicating it to Sharon Osbourne (her face was on my paused TV screen at the time).
Some people use the Internet as a sounding board for complaints about celebrities, weather, traffic and other things they can't control. (These things seemed especially whiny when I read them in Marcella's hospice room last summer). I prefer the people who use it to share things that pass the “could this be helpful?” test. In my book, music, humor, and art always qualify.
The Scientist and I dreamed of the sandwiches we would soon eat while we watched an impressive amount of dust pass through a strong beam of sunlight cutting through the middle of her bedroom. The dust storm only grew stronger when I picked up my right sock from the floor. A Larry King bookmark stood on the second shelf of her bookcase, cross-armed and exuding equal parts judgment and bemusement. I put on a t-shirt that reads “What Would Regis Do?”
Me, The Scientist, Larry, and Regis. Just a bunch of senior citizens trying to make the most of a cold Saturday in February.