Paper ships



May 21, 1980


A few weeks away from the band and they seem me as a whole different person.

They welcome me back as if I had been gone for years.

Hank talks near me. The bar lights glow dimly with me at the center of everybodyís attention after months of feeling almost dead.

But this is the last glowing ember in a fire that has already mostly expired; something of a sad song sung in memory of what once was but can never be again.

This is the same feeling I get walking in the woods on a warm day after the first frost has already come, morning light cheering me, bird song filling the air, but only in tribute to a season we canít grab back.

I donít need it back.

This is a tough world, and more than once I felt like a drowning man dumped into the ocean after being struck with an iceberg only to discover the water still warm enough for sharks.

Itís nice to go unnoticed, and to find myself dragged into some lifeboat I didnít expect, and to float back through the same water.

I am a sailor in a paper boat, though, and ink stains on my fingers, after having documented much of it, this spinning world.

For this moment, I have become the center of the universe, but in this universe, being noticed has its risks. Iíve always survived by remaining invisible, not taking part in the circus of emotion that churns just under the surface of this place Ė the petty jealousy, the intense attraction, the vengeance and retribution.

I used to think people in these places were mannequins, acting out roles for no reason. Now, I know better. The cool exteriors merely protect the real people from the pain, as if by acting out everything as if it doesnít matter, it canít hurt us, when it always does.

And I survive by sailing away, out of harmís reach, aware always that I am floating on a very fragile paper ship, something that might sink at any moment, or even crash into icebergs I cannot yet see.



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