Thursday, September 03, 2015

Losing Something

Jerome was confused and discombobulated.  He had planned to meet Elysa at Dante's, his favorite coffee house in the village. But Caffe Dante had unexpectedly closed. It was as though his world was beginning to disintegrate.  It was the death of an era, and Jerome remembered so many times there with his friends that he stared at the shuttered storefront in disbelief. Elysa was on his way to meet him, but this was so unexpected that all he could manage all he could do was text her and cancel their meeting. He had completely forgotten why they were meeting. Now on this bright beautiful summer day he felt as though someone had closed his world.

Jerome imagined himself a poet, although he had never submitted any of his poems for publication. But to him, creating the poem was everything. It didn't matter that it remained a private utterance. Poetry is meant to be private, he thought.

He would spend many hours at Dante's filling pages of blank books with the work of his imagination. Over the years he had watched the closings of coffee houses in Greenwich Village, one of the last bastions for artists of a different era. He looked at his smartphone and realized this was in part an instrument of self destruction. It was not made for places like Dante. The smartphones were creatures of Starbucks, Think Coffee, and all the social gathering spas around the city where patrons were engaged in taking selfie's and posting their images on FaceBook as though that somehow defined their identity.

Smartphones gave Starbuckers something to do as they waited patiently in line for their coffee. Texting softened their addiction, made it less urgent.

Coffee was an addiction. Make no mistake about that. In earlier times it was treated as such with respect. It was a time when addiction was fashionable behavior before it became the main apparatus for self destruction.

Jerome tried to remember why he was meeting Elysa. She was a dancer, a choreographer whose work he always admired since he first saw her perform. She could improvise wonderfully expressive works as though they had resided within her waiting for an opportunity to burst into reality. Strangely, she seemed to like words as much as music, so it might have been his poetry that had suggested to her that they might work together.

Was that why they were meeting? He closed his eyes and tried to remember. He hoped she was not too angry that he had cancelled the meeting. He thought to himself, it was irrational, uncalled for.

Jerome was a wanderer and a loner. He loved New York because it allowed him to be alone. Years ago he had composed music and his friends all believed he would become famous. But nothing ever came of it. Somehow he had lost something. His father had remarked, "I dunno.. Jerry was just gliding along, everything coming so quickly and easily... and then... well, he just stumbled."

Even so, he had several friends he hung out with at Dante's and Bruno's. Bruno's was his hangout on Laguardia Place until it suddenly seemed to flee the encroaching modernity of the FaceBook generation.

He thought of Erik and the times they had sat over coffee. Some of their meetings were almost thematic. There were deep discussions, but there was the reality of time passing and needing to move on. Erik was very particular, and Jerome understood this. There were many levels where they met, and many others that for Jerome were meant for another lifetime.

Dante had also been a regular coffee spot, and for Jerome the connection was the compelling image and theme of a Muse. Dante's Muse deeply attracted Jerome. His pursuit of the Muse became his mantra... a new incarnation of a distant beloved, always the quest beckoning...

He hoped Elysa would understand why he cancelled their meeting.  Actually, he wished he understood. It was such a beautiful August day. Yet the brilliant sunlight seemed so harsh on his vanished, obsolete sanctuary.

No comments: