September 30th, 2011
What I found at the bottom of the barrel. My heart beating. I am climbing back slowly from the top of the earth. The top of the earth where the sky is. To the bottom of the earth where the water is.
People drink to find the bottom of the glass, the bottom of their misery, to find a way out of their problems, to make their problems go into dim focus. You are miserable, you are tense, you are bored, you are shaky, you are scared, you want. You are a bundle of wanting. You feel the wanting deep in yourself and you reach for something.
For the TV remote control
For something dangerous—extreme sports—anything with adrenalin pumping
For something you can buy—some like to buy something big—a car, a house, a boat, others like to shop as cheaply as possible at Ross
For sleep—some just want to sleep
I saw my friend yesterday and he is dying and then we stayed at the hotel Excalibur because I was way too tired to drive back and my son and I had checked in and gotten dinner. The hotel Excalibur’s rooms are big and clean and everything is brown and we have no lightbulb in our lamp, but you can see the Strip. They cost $26 a night which I could afford.
In the morning, you have to wait in line 20 minutes to get bad coffee because they have one small elderly lady pouring the coffee and tea very slowly. There were only 5 or 6 people in line but still it took almost a half hour and everyone in line was complaining about the fire alarm going off at 5 am and staying on for ages and about the general feeling of malaise of the staff who clearly wished they were on some far distant planet and not at Excalibur at all.
The Strip is full of light and movement, the night sky darkening early and splattered with neon and the sense of people’s money evaporating into something without substance.
Last year my friend went out with us to Mon Ami Gabi overlooking the fountains of Bellagio. We had a big group of us, maybe 10 of us and we celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday. My friend was in good spirits.
This spring my friend and I ate breakfast at IHOP in Palmdale and that was the last meal we ever ate together. We’ve spoken many times since but, that was to be our last supper.
Yesterday was goodbye and then to rest amid the glitter and wild of the Las Vegas Strip which is hard to love on the best of days.
From our window we could see THEhotel and Mandalay Bay and of course, the Luxor shining like uncut dreams.
In 1992, my friend Mark Fogarty died on a very beautiful day in July. The sun shone magnificently through the palm trees and in the pool below his apartment a little girl kept doing dives into the pool and getting her mother to clap. The clapping went on, the dives, the splashing and Mark was gone. The air around the palm trees shimmered as if light was glowing off the fronds.
Light in the West does not cooperate when it is time to say goodbye. Not enough rainy grey days. You can’t count on the sky to cooperate. You have to say goodbye in the light, you have to stare that light down brilliant yellow or copper and gold, and right into the face of light, you say, goodbye and then the light comes down heavy and thick all around you. And in that light, you walk.