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i stood with those gravities and marveled at the sunrise

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 03:35:09 -0700

it was early morning after a raging party, fall of 2002, chicago. i was with six other gravities, standing on a pier overlooking lake michigan. the sun was just coming up; it was a sunrise like ten dozen other sunrises i had seen in chicago, except the pier was different, because dave h. no longer lived up north and nobody was still living in rogers park any more. the makeup from my halloween costume was smeared all down my face; i imagined i looked like some kind of exhausted ghoul, unwilling to play the game of flesheater any longer, standing in front of the elegance of the brilliant orange clouds and deciding to hell with it, i would just go ahead and try to be human again. gulls flew by; the waves washed up like they always used to; a jogger strode past with her dog; the seven of us stood there alone, coming down off the drugs, wired and frayed, a few years older, a few years weirder.

it was windy and cold and we huddled as close to each other as we dared.

for some reason my mind was in one of those unwieldy psychedelic
labyrinths, and the forbidden game of iadics was playing itself out over and over again in my mind. i was seeing a mesmerizing spider web of connections, humming lines of activated energy connecting powerful individual nodes in dyads, triads, and tetrads. the spider web was multidimensional of course; it was not simply a flat grid of connections, but a deep three dimensional picture of these relationships parceled out over time, so that the spider web pulsed in various spots as connections formed and developed and deepened and evolved and occasionally, ever so unfortunately, smashed apart. an inevitably inhuman way of perceiving these people, i thought, and yet i could hardly avoid it; i could feel the strength of the model in the way i drew the lines from myself to each of the six people who were standing there with me that morning on the pier.

the night before had been madly outrageous. i remember once thinking that
our capacity for intensity would of necessity decrease over time, as we got
older as a group, as our stamina for such madness inevitably dwindled away.
i was fooled, however; as time passed, the sheer density of the relationships, the vast evolving complexity of the relationships, generated an ever more involved wall of content for us to navigate. there was no turning back, and i could see that now. what we once called "melodrama" was no longer characterized by youthful bravado and desperately childish mistakes. now we grew to know more and more the stakes of the game that we were playing. now we knew ever more deeply the bond of trust that was holding us all in place, keeping us trapped within a spider web of our own weaving. or is trapped the appropriate word? was it perhaps a house we built for ourselves on territory that we had painstakingly marked out as our own, and was that why we fought so hard to defend it? i don't know; i linger on theory more than i should. the effects of the drugs, no doubt.

but in that madly outrageous night, where yet more boundaries were crossed like the crossing of the rubicon, i remember clearly standing in front of the video wall and feeling the comforting weight of connection on my shoulders. a cloak i had no intention of shedding. a chess game i had no intention of abandoning. playing madly with my feelings, that's what these people were doing, and with each other's feelings, and in most cases i could only stand apart and watch the machinations unfold.

meanwhile i stood huddling with six other gravities on a pier overlooking lake michigan. d. hadn't joined us; she was inside, feeling sick and not wanting to aggravate it with the cold. i was thinking of her as i usually do; she is a pillar beside me and her presence isn't far, even when she is blocks or miles away. meanwhile i was holding someone's hand on either side. i was feeling inexplicably lonely amongst these popular people. i saw them as beautiful and out of my reach, found myself sexually and emotionally drawn to each one of them, could not sort out the iadic implications as rapidly as my attraction demanded, knew that i would be left out of specific loops for as long as those loops existed, knew that there was inexplicable pressure on the entire little ball of us, knew that speaking out loud would shatter the peaceful neutrality that had settled over us. of the six, somehow it had been the case that two of them had once been deep deep lovers and had failed to hold their dyad together. they stood on opposite ends of our little group, and i wondered about the energy that continued to pass between them by sheer fact of their ongoing involvement with this crazy sailing ship. two others had faced a superlative period of hardship and come through stronger, if not unscathed. i had contributed nothing to these events; they had taken place in a far away land outside the reach of my influence, where words on a computer screen could mean nothing to those involved except "ping" and perhaps "i love you, please take care of yourself". i was deeply in love with one of the remaining two gravities, but so were nearly a dozen other gravities, and i knew enough to steer clear. and there was one gravity among us that morning who rarely spoke, who was always welcome but whom i knew felt ill at ease among those for whom words ran fluidly, someone who had never found a sexual partner during his many days within this group.

i wondered about sympathy and empathy as i stood there; wondered about the
darwinistic implications of an imbalanced pool of potential iadic connection; wondered about the depth of some women's feeling for each other as the years continued to multiply; considered questions i had asked years ago about what kind of future this group would build together in light of the answers i was now beginning to see; considered the mad mad mad time we had all just had at that year's burning man, an event which continued to test the very limits of these people. i considered the sheer weight of the loss i felt over one gravity who had been struck and killed by a car last year, in may of 2001, three days after my birthday; indeed, my head still spun over that one, and i doubted i would ever recover. i considered my business that i had pursued til it fell down; considered the movie i was still, years later, trying to get made; considered the continual unpublished state of my books, now four in number. i considered the life i was building in denver, colorado, a city which failed to impress me, but a
community that completely exceeded my expectations. i was, overall, amazed and astounded by what that hardened little crew in colorado had managed to accomplish in such a short time. they had caused me to abandon my unrealism, my daydreams labeled rich and famous, for something much more rich, much more satisfying, much more rewarding for its tangible sense of now-ness. i considered the love i had experienced with partners who were not ms d.; i considered the fast, orange, nourishing glow of the work she and i constantly did to keep our life together upright. i considered the pounding sounds of "a different drum" which still, so many years gone by, affected me at a seemingly morphogenetic level. i considered the places i had been to see these people, the dozens of trips to here and there, the NYE 2001 in denver that somehow managed to invade all our minds with a delirious sense of unwarranted optimism. i considered the village in which nina and the little boy were now being raised. i looked across the windblown faces of these six gravities who somehow were precisely specific to me in that moment and yet remarkably, obviously symbolic, and i loved them, the tinge of color in one woman's hair, the set of that one man's jaw which had always fascinated me. i couldn't escape them, nor would try; and when they felt some deep deep hurt, i felt it too, perhaps not as keen, but there was no arguing the ripple effect, the sense of "contact tripping" when two people fought in the presence of others. i wanted nothing more than to pour understanding and peace throughout the entire spider web, but i had no sense that this was possible, or if it was, that any such understanding or peace had ever or would ever be poured in my direction. i felt distinctly alone amongst my peers that night, remembering how i had long ago said that this was the closest group of strangers i would ever
call my friends.

i said nothing, nor did anyone else. the sun rose on schedule, and the drugs continued to wear off. i felt my hand squeezed on my left, and i smiled. after so so so much time and energy together, so much scorched earth, so much forgiveness; after so many mistakes made and apologies tendered, so many vicious words exchanged and deliberate land mines left in each other's paths; after so many honest attempts to hold so many remarkably tenuous connections in place; after watching each other grow in so many unexpected ways, and feeling the weight of time being to seep into our consciousness; after so many unnecessary spats, so many driving angry moments, so many bursts and meltdowns and violent arguments; after the day to day everdayness of loving each other faded into a longing for imaginary futures; there we still were, standing together alone on a pier in chicago, in the early morning blue and orange of a sunrise that was meant for us. perhaps to some it seemed as though we were always in the process of fracturing apart, but it was apparent by now that this was fractal iteration, these waves of complication, these blistering moods, these marvelous raging parties where the night expanded in every direction and we truly did let it all hang out. there we still were, standing together under an umbrella called gravity, for better or worse; underneath the trappings we were a tight tight family, holding onto each other for dear life as we swallowed tears and made brave faces for each other. i wondered then how things might have been different had we had elders to teach us what to do; i wondered how things would be different for a younger crew who would have us to teach them; i wondered, as i always do, if true happiness would ever slip into my pocket or if this was the closest i could expect, this beautiful bittersweet camaraderie.

i stood with those gravities and marveled at the sunrise. let the day come, i thought. i could feel saudade flutter through me as the sun stood forth with glorious hues. we had come through the darkest of nights, as each halloween must be, and still we were together, smiling, beginning to joke and laugh, for better or for worse a weird weird family that we wouldn't trade. i stood with those gravities and marveled at the times we'd had, felt pangs of nostalgia for the things we would do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

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