Jim Trainer

Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

Goodbye bravery.

In Uncategorized on May 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm
I time every journey 
To bump into you 
Accidentally I
Charm you and tell you
Of the boys I hate
All the girls I hate
All the words I hate
All the clothes I hate
How I'll never be anything I hate
You smile, mention something that you like
How you'd have a happy life
If you did the things you like 
-Franz Ferdinand, The Dark of the Matinee

I come up from the boiler room. She’s turned off all the lights. There are candles burning in every window. The windows are open but the furnace has stopped blasting the room with hot air. She’s left no note. In the kitchen a sole lamplight is glowing above the type and made brighter reflecting off the blank white sheet in the reel.
I sit down. I crank the silver arm of the President XII, advance and return the reel. My hands are black with furnace grease. My breath is musty, wet&cold.  I’m still exhaling cellar air. I start typing. I begin…
…South Philly…by the sign of the cross on a Monday morning. I am overcome with complete and utter sexual exhaustion. I can feel her in the ease of my joints and in the cracked fascia of my arms and legs. I can taste her and the salt of our sweat. Catholic School kids make their way down the cold pavement in twos and threes. Church bells crack the autumn air.  I walk down the steps to the orange line and sink into another dream…
…A dark rainy morning at the shop.  Auggie and his weed.   Spicer cracking wise.  Led Zeppelin and Bush and Live.  Lightning out through the double doors and then thunder booming down the suburban sky.  The nervous feeling in the bowels of a 19-year-old kid, standing there, waiting for the storm to come.  He’s trying not to hope for the day off.  He doesn’t want to jinx it.  But he is hoping for the day off  just the same…
…Up on a high hill above Wheeling.  It’s just him&her and this connection of feeling between them.  She’d never be so old again.  He’d never be less bitter.  He had the rest of his life to wonder about the wound and the opening.  He was 23, wearing wingtips and innocent to his own game.  They pile into the van and bomb their way through Appalachia.  They’re coming home…
Then this, the blurry amalgamation of my youth in three memories.  I keep typing…
…the yard is filling with water.  It’s up to at least 4″ by now and me&my sisters can’t get inside.  The doors are locked and we don’t have our key.  Mom’s Nova’s in the driveway but Dad’s pickup isn’t.  We run around to the backyard and find the rabbit,  floating by the porch drain, dead.  His solid black eyes seeing nothing.  His paws stretched out, waterlogged and useless.
and then…
…He comes in, hulking and quiet.  The silence of the house is weighted.  It hurts.  There is a shame coming from an anger unexpressed.  I look into his room from the hall  and see him sitting with his freckled back to me on the bed.  He is sinking and silent.  Then I see her face,  giant, pursed, as she shuts the door.
this is much later and I’m 14 now…
…we’re at Dunkin Donuts smoking and drinking coffee before school.  We’re late for homeroom  but we’d make first period and slide right in.  At 8:20am we get up, slap 1$ bills and quarters down and make our way out into the working class morning.  We walk down the length of the counter.  I’m ready to explain to anyone in my way that what I’m doing is my own goddamn business and if they don’t like it then they’ll have a big fucking problem on their hands and a fight they will not win…
It’s the bravest I ever remember being, then this…
…the last day of 9th grade at Upper Darby High.  Someone’s playing I’ll Stop The World in the parking lot.  She’s coming out from the stands toward me.  The sunlight catches her hair, her legs, her eyes.
She’s incredible, gorgeous as always but not so much the cheerleader anymore.  There’s something softer in her eyes and sad.  Her movements have an openess to them now and she’s moving toward me with the unmistakable language of her budding sexuality.  I want to tell her I want her, that I’d stop the world and walk away with her, across the parking lot and across the street from school, through the cemetery and into summer forever.  See you next year, I say instead, and walk away.    I don’t find out til the beginning of sophomore year.  Her father died that day, in the parking lot, when I walked away with more conformity than the lot of them rallying  in the stands behind me and yelling into the hot open air.  Goodbye bravery.  

I rip the sheet from the reel and sit there in front of the President XII.  Goodbye bravery, hello Blues.

This Perfect Machine

10 Years Stayin’ Young

In Uncategorized on December 3, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I am large, I contain multitudes.”-Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

I got into town just before midnight on a warm and balmy night in 1999.  The skyscrapers of Houston rose up on me as I climbed the hill from the train yard.  “I am a long way from home.”, I thought, and I was free.  I got up on stage at the club and I poured myself a mugfull of Evan Williams white-label.  “Houston.”  I said, and the crowd was with me.  They were with me until I had spouted all my words and finished the mug of 100 proof. 

It all came back to me walking down La Branch on Sunday.  Ruby Wring and her Texas Rollergirls were competing against the Houston Roller Derby.  I was playing a show at Café Mango’s that night and we were meeting up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 years.  When we got out of the car and began walking, it wasn’t just a memory that came back to me, it came over me.  With a memory, it’s kind of linear, you remember something that happened like you’re reading it off a page.  This was a feeling-and not just any feeling.  I felt the same exact way I felt 10 years ago, succinctly, and hadn’t felt since then.  The exotic warmth of Houston in November and the giant reach of anonymous skyscrapers downtown took me back to a fearless time in my life when I was walking tall down these city streets for the first time. 

We met Josh outside George R. Brown Convention Center.  We walked around checking out all the souped-up and shined cars on display for Autorama.  We cheered Ruby on as she and the TXRG beat the Houston Roller Derby 120-108.  We hung out at Lucky’s for the afterparty.  Throughout the day and into the beer-drunk night it was revealed:  we are still game. We’re still up for the next adventure.  We’re older now but that doesn’t matter any more than it did then.  By the end of this whole adventure me and my friend were confessing our love for each other.  I know it’s silly to have fondness for an old oil-town but I do.  Because when I got off the train back then I knew I had made it.  It must have been 12 degrees when I left Philly.  Not only was I doing a two-week, 8-city spoken word tour, I was making friends.  And the thing about friends is, when you see each other again it’s like no time has passed. 

Rachel from Philly joined us that night at the show.  I had an audience with members from:  Alabama, Houston and San Antone, Vermont and Philadelphia.     

When we left Houston, I watched the skyscrapers drop away.  “I’ll be back.  We’ll see you soon.”  Texas 10, the musical highway.  How comforting it is to know there are other heart-lights out there, beacons really.  They’re with me when I’m walking down 6th, I feel them out there, and I contain multitudes.  This feeling of  connection, it doesn’t make the world smaller, it somehow makes me bigger.  There’s more room out there and there’s more room in here.  It’s anti-small town walls closing in.  It’s everything.