All That You Can’t Leave Behind

I’m walking down 80th Street towards my apartment singing ‘Happy Birthday’ into my father’s answering machine. It’s approaching 10 p.m. and I haven’t even managed to wish him well in person. I’m just that stupid right now.

I’m sneaking ‘Love & Other Indoor Games’ tasks into my already ridiculously jam-packed MTV News, MTV Movies, Choose or Lose days. One minute I’m uploading MP3 clips to the album preview page. The next minute I’m sending an order to Busy Beaver Buttons. Then I’m lining up Scary Movie Week programming for the site. Then I’m emailing Acme CD Duplication. Then I’m scheduling the production staff’s Election Day shifts. Then I’m lining up The 2004 Love Below Tour. Then I’m speaking with my brother about the last two shots of the video (I’ll give you a hint: it’s all a dream). I take a meeting. I wolf down lunch. Then I order postcards.

It’s relentless.

Everyone is pitching in. Stephanie, God bless her, emails me the album art. Kevin sneaks out of the office to mix ‘Jenny’. Heather helps me line up a Boston gig. It’s all hands on deck.

I climb the five flight to my new apartment. It’s cold inside. Boxes are strewn. The windows are bare. The stereo and TV are the only things unpacked. I order a turkey burger with cheese and settle into my red chair in front of 200 channels of digital TV. I watch PBS’ ‘Frontline,’ then repair upstairs to work on the album. Thirty blocks south, my old apartment remains cluttered with ten years of leftovers.

Everything is just a little bit different now. I see The City from new angles. Who moved Columbus Circle? Ooooh, I did. I am commuting, like most New Yorkers, on the subway. Downtown and Uptown still confuse me. I’m unaccustomed to being so far Uptown. Every line — the bank, the deli, the bus — is an inconvenience. Every unproductive moment is wasted.

Through it all, I am lonesome. My home is not home. I open my Heineken with a pocket knife. I order in. I stand on the roof and look up at the one lone star floating in space above the Upper West Side, then move on to the next big thing.

Related Posts