Monday, November 21, 2005

A few years ago I was strong and I was fit and I had someone who controlled what substances I could and could not consume. One day they stuck us in a van and took us to a lab. There, we were taken one by one into a room where they stuck a needle down our arms and a tube in our mouth and a plug on our noses. "We're going to find out if you're Superman today" one of the lab assistant told me as he helped me up onto the stationary bike. "When I say go, you are going to pedal hard enough to keep this green dial above the red line and keep going until that red light goes off. We are going to increase and decrease the resistance but just keep peddling. " Green? Red? Lines and lights and dials and tubes. Where was I?
"Alright, are you ready?"
I tried to smile as best I could with the tube jammed halfway down my throat.
"Go!" he shouted as I watched the first stream of blood leave my arm and travel down the tube. Every thirty or so seconds I could feel a little more of my blood draining. My life. They were controlling the amount of oxygen I was breathing. They were controlling the pace. They wanted to know how well my blood cells could grab onto those tiny oxygen molecules as they squeezed through the cappilaries in my lungs. They wanted to know if there was something special coursing through my veins that made me better then the rest of them.

I strained, I panted. We were used to stress. We were used to pushing our bodies to the limit. Used to running up hills and mountains until we would vomit. But I couldn't stay focused. The room. The lights. The tubes. The two-way mirror. All I could think was what if they discovered my secret. That I wasn't Superman. What if they realized I was just a goofy bow-legged kid who had gotten lucky but hadn't done anything that anyone else in the room couldn't do if they wanted? I wondered how Superman managed day to day anyhow. Did he have to make his own kryptonite-coated razorblades when he needed to shave? Could he even feel the gentle breeze of a butterfly or a feather or the soft touch of a woman's hand?

"pedal harder!!" he screamed in my ear when they realized I was daydreaming. Drifting off in my own mind where there is no tube and no bike. Just black. Just space and darkness and rest.

Apparently when the red light had gone off I hadn't even notices. My eyes were closed and my teeth clenched tight around the oxygen tube. When the results came I wasn't surprised. I was below average. My blood held less oxygen then most of the rest of the team. I wasn't surprised. I always knew I was working twice as hard just to keep up. Superman wouldn't understand. For him, it's just too easy.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Somewhere the synapses certainly got crossed and I'm not sure where amongst the grey matter, the potassium pumps, and the ionic charges were lost my most magical years. Somehow my brain would have me believe that this enchantig, beautiful and transcendent town I call home pales in comparison to what's left in m hypothalamus of a ridiculous fantasy world. All that remains is a jumbled mix early college experiences sprinkled with first real loves, adventurous leaps of faith and winding backwood roads. All thos was somehow sandwiched into the memories of a few short and emotionally charged years. I live under the truest of blues sky in the shade of towering mountains but it's the grey sky's and scraggly, deciduous trees, naked in the mid-winter's white that seek refuge under to in my dreams on the darkest and coldest of nights.

The sunny Santa Monica Beaches only remind me of solitude, of lost celebrities and of long nights alone, hiding from all the things in Los Angeles that wanted to change me. But the tall New York skyline, I-95 through the rainbow of Maine foliage, and that Stamford train track out of Central Station chugging through the dreary, gray afternoon towards Fairfield. Those are my secret places. I go there to hide when sometimes it all seems like too much.

Too much when the cell phone keeps vibrating in my right, front pocket. Too much with The chick next to me watching the faces of the Desperate Housewives on her tiny ipod video screen like moving splotches of dirt. too much when I come home to the red light of the TiVo always recording something that I'll never have time to watch. All the blogs trailing off into infinity. And only a few people listening.

Tonight I'm down in New Hampshire. A basement restaurant with carpeted floors and candle lamps. Tomorrow I'll sit rink-side at the cafe under Rockefeller center, a pretty girl wrapping her scarf around her neck between sips of latte. Next week I'll climb the rocky sides of that stupid little mountain to look out across that dilapidated mill town in southern Maine or ride a bike across the Charles towards the glowing golden dome of MIT.

My brains lives to play stupid tricks and hide in the strangest places.