I made a mask from an old ripped up Roky Erickson t-shirt. It was in the pile of rags destined for wiping brushes with, but now I’ll wear it near people in public. It makes me look ready to rob a stagecoach. My childhood dreams of becoming a highwayman can finally come true.
My apartment is mostly empty now. I’m bringing some fragile stuff over to the new place right after I send out this letter. My record player, the TV, a bunch of clothes. Shit that’s easier to carry unpacked rather than stressing out the movers on Saturday.
The fewer souvenirs and decorations there are here the more removed I feel. My landlady called to ask if I was still moving and to ask what the place needed in terms of repairs. She’s elderly, locked in in the ‘burbs. Who knows when she’ll make it here to see the place for herself. I hope to leave it as clean as it can be, but I’ve been here over five years so there’s no way it can be restored to a pristine state without some serious effort. I’ll probably leave the keys with the downstairs neighbor and hope for a return of my security deposit sometime months down the road.
It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t been inside a vehicle—car, bus, or train—since this thing began. On nice days I’ve taken bike rides. A few epic ones, but mostly within a couple miles of my place for simple errands. I’m renting a car Monday to move but wouldn’t be heartbroken if I never drove again. If there’s anything good that could come out of this plague time it’s some elemental changes to societal behavior. If it makes people walk and bike more, that can’t be a bad thing. But then again people are capable of forgetting catastrophe and strife of any scale. Forgetting is a proven coping mechanism.
Paul commissioned a painting of his son, Adam, at work at Blue City Bikes. It’s a few blocks away from my place and I’ve been a customer since I moved to the neighborhood. Designated an essential business, they’ve been open these past six unreal weeks. I stop by to see how Owen and Chris and the rest of them are doing every few days.
I met Paul while putting together an article about a documentary he and my friend John were making about the Roseland neighborhood of their youth. While interviewing him we realized that his son, Adam, had bought a painting of mine a year or two before. There’s a tragic backstory but it’s not mine to tell.
I’d planned to bike the picture Paul ordered to his Pullman home, but he insisted on driving over to pick it up. The back door of his SUV was open as I walked up, so I placed the painting on the seat. He gave me a check in an envelope and thanked me, said it was the first visual evidence he’d had of his son in a month. I went back upstairs to get ready for that day’s bike ride, which would now include a stop at the bank. I’ve been using the drive-thru (and its pneumatic tube) since the lobby’s been shut all this time.
The fact that archaic technology like the pneumatic tube is newly-useful is a comfort in a way.