I have a habit of calling my landline back at the apartment while I'm out running around the city, and leaving ideas, sentences, things to research, questions. The machine fills up a lot, because I also like to save all the amazing messages that were left there years ago: Sean calling to say 'I love you,' my mother calling to thank me for a mix CD I made and sent, Mario calling from the beach in North Carolina just so I could hear the sound of the ocean. I don't keep pictures like some people do--but rather notes, objects, letters and messages; those carry my memories.
I was surprised to find a message from myself I had forgotten. It was about the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade--me calling to remind myself to blog about watching it on television. More specifically, about watching it on television and regretting that I was watching, not actually in it.
"Talk about how you don't have that thing where you're afraid to leave the party," I say in the message. "I always say," my voice mumbles into the room, "what could happen?" Then, after a pause--I can hear myself thinking in the pause, I know this is how I work--I say: "Maybe give some examples, tell some experiences." Then, finally: "About how you like a story sometimes better than the actual happening." If someone say, removes her clothes and performs an increasingly more difficult limbo while drunk at a party (this is an actual example, by the way,) someone telling me story afterwards, depending on the teller, can be more entertaining than the actual event.
I don't regret not performing anymore--even when I see some theater that's thrilling, complicated, hilarious, I don't miss it. New York 1, our 24-hour local news channel, was televising the Parade, running moronic commentary under the whole thing. There were a lot of George W's, a lot of little boy Spider-Men. (In 2003, there were dozens of Siegfried and Roys, bloody-mouthed white tigers attached to Roy's gored neck--a smart idea, but clearly unoriginal.)
Yes, the parade has become something other than what it originally was. But who cares? New York is something other than what it originally was. A hundred years ago, fifty years ago, ten years ago. And a hundred years from now.
But I regretted not being there. Not donning a blonde wig, funeral dress, black gloves and black umbrella--like many of us, dozens of us did to mourn the loss of Matthew Shepard back in 1998. Not leading a pack of snarling, long-haired hippie volunteers with Insurrection Flags with the Bread & Puppet contingent. Not passing precariously underneath the stilt dancers. Not gathering up the angels and demons. Not getting smashed into the pavement by the bats on rollerskates.