How To Be Alone

“One of the great adaptive virtues of our brains,” writes Jonathan Franzen in his book, ‘How To Be Alone,’ “is our ability to forget almost everything that has ever happened to us.”

I am writing, now, of pain.

I ran 13.1 miles in 85 degree heat this morning in a little over two hours. The Queens Half Marathon was not one of my finest hours, in-so-much that I ran more slowly than perhaps ever before. Worse, it hurt. I’ve run some long races of late, it’s true: the Brooklyn Half, The Broad Street Run. But I’ve also played two solo shows, two Smith Family shows, and a bunch of rehearsals. Plus The MTV, Nada Surf, Bob Edwards, and Walter Cronkite. All this week. So I was in no condition to run this morning. Heck, I was choking back the mini puke just 24 hours prior. But for some reason I have this thinking that I can do it all.

Take today. First, the aforementioned half marathon. My sister-in-law, Jen, tells me that my nephew Ethan’s birth was the most painful experience of her life in the same breath as her plans for baby number two. Similarly, no sooner had I crossed the finish than I thought, ‘Well that wasn’t so bad.’

I spent the afternoon in Central Park playing with Ethan, playing guitar, and laying around in the shade. By dusk, the light was breathtaking. The breeze was like warm perfume. Then the long walk home. Then two Sapporo, a plate of sushi, and a screening of ‘Before Sunrise’ (in preparation on the release of ‘Before Sunset’). Now it’s 10:00 p.m. And the phone rings. My buddy James is in from L.A. Remember what happened last time he was here? An excerpt:

James got his head split open when his wife kicked in the bathroom door. We met a baker named Bruce. The bartender was hammered. There was flashing. Surreal.

And that was all before someone said, “Let’s go to Scores!”

So like I said, it’s 10:00 p.m., and I just agreed to meet him in two hours. TWO HOURS! I should’ve been asleep two hours ago. Instead — because, though fresh in my mind, I don’t remember how painful an exhausted hangover can be — instead, I’ll be socializing on the rooftop at 60 Thompson.

Oh well. Pain is weakness leaving the body. And I’ll sleep when I die. ‘Cuz there’s too much to do, and too little time.

UPDATE — It’s 12:45 Sunday. Here’s what actually happened last night. As I finished writing the above, it began to thunderstorm. I decided to wait it out, then head downtown. I laid down for one second … then woke up at 2 a.m. Moral of the story? The brain may forget, but the body doesn’t.

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