It's Matt's birthday and coming up quick on Rosh Hashanah (sunset: tomorrow): new beginnings all over. The air is starting to smell like the ground, all dust and leaves and light rain and the slow force of decomposition. Bright orange pumpkins are suddenly starting to line front porches and dot the country fields. Happy birthday and a happy new year.
Something stirs when the morning starts to lose its humidity in the South. That's not exactly true. A new year must be conceived before it is born and mine was seeded with a restless disillusion back in August.
Tired of my job and deciding myself unfit for office work of any kind, I was in a conundrum. The poetry was starting to ring in the back corners of my ears again and no simple lure of a steady paycheck was going to quiet its patient, but incessant, hum. I started to go out more; drink myself to sleep at night, as they say. I met a guy and in a simple Springsteen paraphrase, I did a little favor for him. That favor was enough of a favor to set me right financially for a few months with a few thousand to spare. So I quit my job. Seemed reasonable.
The next step was puzzling, as I needed a project of some kind to keep me busy and travel was ill advised for the next few months - because of the favor I had done. What I did, I cannot explain. I started thinking about movies. I contacted some of my video store connections down in North Carolina and arranged an "at-cost" purchase of the Criterion Collection, DVDs of approximately 300 of the greatest films ever made. Then I watched them.
Now, I doubt if you've given too much thought as to what I've been up to the last few weeks. I hope not, because it wasn't much to dwell on. I was watching movies. Starting with 'Grand Illusion' and ending last night with 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou.' It's that simple. I made it my job. I watched movies for 16 hours a day. Movies that took me from Bombay to Bed-Stuy, from Paris to the fathest reaches of space and the afterlife; all in a span of hours. I ate take out. My muscles started to atrophy a little, I think. I did start getting awful Charley-horses in the night.
But I will say, the project was worth it. I am a better man. My language skills have improved immensely. I have remembered most of the conversational French I used to know and picked up more than a smattering of Japanese. Things outside seem brighter and smell better than ever before. Watching movies was the hardest and best job I've ever had.
But now the money world is starting to get its hooks in me again. I have to find some sort of gainful employment. The creditors are restless. Sadly, this is happening at a time of my own great restlessness as well. The movie 'trips' were not the same as real adventures; the movie love affairs not as stunning as the ones in life. I find myself feeling extraordinary and searching for something to do which might match this extraordinary nature. Of course it may all be nonsense. There is power in imagination, but is it real power? Can it feed me, shelter me, keep me safe? Or do I need to pack my movies in a trunk and push them under the bed until I can take them out next year - and give them to Matt for his 35th birthday.