Here's the first part for a lad whose love and encouragement and overall joy of being has given me quite a lot over the years.....
...and there is music. The pervasive shaft of stringed intonation that rises above the tempo of the page and hurdles into the dimmed corona of night. There is music; feminine octaves flirtatiously flapping away from their lower-clefted counterpoints before momentarily melting into one harmonious vessel. The conductors arms continue to flutter and sway, heaving the orchestral barge from the necks of groped instruments. He is pulling away. He is crescendoing. He is biting his lip for affect. For perhaps he knows, that after the sound has been culled from the soil of the stage, a bitter silence shall then ensue, painfully outstretching the limbs of time.
On stage there is London in the spring. A lavender sunset drips over the Thames river, smearing the clouds with a sweet plum cobbled aura. Music sprouts in perfectly branched passages, smooth, the way her body is smooth, the way the Thames is smooth, the way youth opens up and unfolds into adolescence; the way adolescence pecks its way into maturity; into reality, into a world that had always been, a world that is incessantly shifting, orbiting, dancing, bobbing a galactic nod, swiveling into the opposite direction of the nearest star.
And there is London in the spring.
Mark-Andrew is the protagonist of my youth. He bears angular-Versace features, nonchalant thick lips, gaunt chin that slightly protrudes from his visage like a ski handle, eyes that hide in them a fleck of emerald. He has blonde hair that was fashionably unkempt when first we met in 93; hair that faded into a singular dish-water ponytail in '97; hair that was trimmed shoulder length when last we said goodbye, January 2, 2000. He is three years older than me, which means that he'll be thirty (!) in October but at the time we met, when I was fifteen and he was eighteen, he seemed to be humbly awaiting coronation by James Dean as the coolest mammal ever to be called a human being.
We first met April, 13th, 1993, in Newark, NJ. We were the recipients of a contest sponsored by a swanky New York magazine called Young Columbus--a program which takes around 120 hormonally addled 12-18 year olds from across the United states, clusters them in New York City for a day, shepherds them with Ivory league counselors, wraps them on a 747 and gives them a full-out two week crash course in European culture before sending them back to their 120 respective US residencies to (hopefully) finish school; encouraging them to make a positive impact on society, labeling them as both Young ambassadors and global citizens.
The contest was a big deal and I had tried to win it the previous two years, working very hard on my speech and presentation, praying very fervidly that perhaps, my own self-centered guilt-ridden variation of a heavenly monarch would allow me to win, just this once, win this special trip. I worked on my oration, I feigned intellect. I learned how to tie a tie (sort of) and used manners. I pretended my nose was a kazoo and allowed sloppy french sentences to slip out of it and when the day of the contest arrived; when I would leave junior high mid-morning clad in a Sunday School suit and arrive at the banquet and shudder and engage in small talk with the judges and latter, give my speech--only to find out at the reception afterwards that I had, once again, struck out ignominiously. Had perhaps swung at an errant pitch when I should've been more patient. Only three kids from different vectors of Illinois were elected. The trip in '91 and '92 was to Paris. The furthest I had been preceding the trip was probably Wisconsin Dells. I couldn't tell you what constituted turbulence if a jet thruster fell in the dilapidated football field behind my highschool.
But in '93 I somehow won. I connected with the judges. I wrote a speech that seethed with alliteration and unalloyed cheesiness. "England, mythical land of pageantry and princes, Castles and Courtly conduct...yadayadayada." I made my speech about England sound more or less like a travel brochure for a B-rated Cruise line. But I won. After all this time of dreaming, I was finally leaving, I was packing up a suitcase larger than my desk at school. I was posing for a passport square down at the post office. I was traversing to that place that had always been promulgated on television (mostly on late night PBS hoity-toity masterpiece theatrical histrionics); that place I had never been to.
And there was Mark-Andrew.
He was seated behind me on the charter van outside of the terminal at Newark. I was fifteen and was almost obsequiously self-conscious of my appearance. Every morning--in an effort to emulate the heart-throb semblance of Jason Presley and Parker Lewis-- I fogged up the vanity frame in my parents bathroom frosting copious amounts of Aqua Net on my lathered skull, drilling an aerial hole in the O-zone layer directly above my head--like a sliced through nimbus. He was behind me in the charter van. Older boys. The kid from Texas with the baseball cap and the stern-mule countenance and leather cowboy boots. Preppy short haired polo-shirted Cinnamon toasted tan lads form the east coast towing luggage by Coach and Louis Vuitton. He sat on the back of the van, comfortably clad in a Suzanne Vegan 99.9 Fahrenheit degrees t-shirt, an expensive camera noosed from his neck, dangling like an infant suicide in the center of his chest. He looked so much like someone I had seen before; someone I had known before. His blonde hair slightly crept and spidered off his head.
Perhaps all true mysticism/spiritual recognition really is is that, when you look at someone for the first time you know everything about them. You feel the juddering magnetism that emanates from the sockets of their eyes, the allure of their persona, actuating the Schopenhauer maxim that you and the other are somehow one.