yes I’ve come back. Arrived 7am off the London bus then walked strangely up the empty streets, over the bridge and along the royal mile- notice a new starbucks that’s started there.. a foggy morning rolling away to reveal the sun and warmth over crisp air, idling down the bike path through the meadows which are full of blooming trees and fresh leaf. Across the lights and up that suprisingly quaint little lane, familiarly to 14 argyle place, past bike repair shop, grocers starting their buisiness, the odd car.. ring the doorbell..
Strange walking inside, a lone receptionist, australian, fumbles around for ages trying to find the key. Dark inside cool air, dank, old maps on the wall, same old bench, carpet. Hardly changed anything really, the kitchen is flooded with morning light and empty, just the reception lady sweeping the floor and the radio, old mugs, and (suprisingly) the old guitar sits up on the wall, it plays terribly, look like the same old strings I put on it, affectionate strum.
Can’t get into the room, lost key but ‘Ged should be awake at twelve and he’ll get us in’ the most curious thing though: I find, in a storage room, converted from that room off the kitchen in house 14, my old green sack with carefully written note ‘ALEX WATT keep till Dec. 99’ pull the drawstring to mothbally clothes and a genuine time-capsule perfectly preserved self remnants from that last month of ’98; old paintings (finally dry), funny youthfull scribbles in pencil about perfect moments and the endlessness of changing sheets, clothes clothes and shoes and some old casettes- the greatest treasure maybe because I have missed enya and some old abbey road, will have to listen later. I unpack it all in the conservatory in the sun, red peppers in the window, pebbly courtyard, Arthurs seat still shrouded in mist.
I’m amazed how older I seem to have grown in such a space of time- through depressions lost and found loves, and various passions, guitar playing improved hair lanky, I was a curiosity in that kitchen this morning, unravelling a bag of things and playing on the instrument, an old edinburgh relic scalf, lone thin travel bum ponytailed, and eloquent; without a future (where to now? a zen monestary!). But for a second, a perfectly preserved past, all recorded faithfully for my older self, returned after a loop about the world lived out all those expectations I had, funnily curiously returned to complete the loop and start another one.
House twelve has been sold, a private residence now can be seen from the street, which seems a pity as I wanted to see that old blue and red staircase, peep in our room.
Bob Dylan plays on the stereo in the internet cafe here, sounds like ‘freewheelin’, youthful, serious.
The streets around town now seem larger, cleaner, more of a village, I walk back along over george fourth bridge or whatever it’s called, past the black spiky building with red doors, the Elephant house is still looking as cosy as ever. Folks arrive this afternoon, we’ll stay two days, then on friday after I’m going to a retreat at a bhuddist abbey in the north of england, maybe I’ll escape at last, from the wheel of becoming, birth and death, karma, suffering, sunny days, people etc.. my fanaticism is mostly unchanged since two years ago, but more ingrown.. not that I was entirely serious just now: Who knows what the mills of god have in store for us: or even without a god-reference, who knows?
I miss Dani, and wonder what she is up to. And you-! This place is changing so rapidly, although I was suprised at the hostels intactness, and of other things not past their used-by date. ‘the shark’ touting at the bus station was exactly the same must have been doing it every day since we left. He didn’t remember me; thought I was looking for a room. I’ll go up to the elephant now- but yes it’s scary, the rate of change of all things and of ourselves, and of the fading nature of memories, and this empty town people whom I know none of, but keep expecting to recognise, everything dying with great rapidness (except the ‘shark’), this is why life frustrates me and makes me want to be a monk.
anyway, It’s just an initial feeling and reaction on this first morning which I had to capture and send to you, before it faded away too much too!
On Tue, 25 Apr 2000 21:05:45 braden wrote:
>”Bless us for we were born as we are, a faulty blessed object in the same old world…” Keruoac couldn’t have said it better. You restore some warmth on a night reclaimed by winter, on a voice reclaimed by silence. I’ve been a little ill the last few days, I think due to the condition of my head more than anything else. I went for a bike ride through the nieghborhood. Their was a break in the spring rains and I could see the seattle skyline along the far ridge laced in pink. A calm settled in to the clicking of the sprocket, the pavement falling away underneathe, a butterfly glancing off my hand and steadying its self. Went to the book shops, no one approached me on my beliefs though, only whether or not I wanted to buy; cultural differences. You should really try to find a copy of Desolation Angels, Jack’s great meditative book written after dharma bums. Then when you return, we can make a pilgrimage to the little fire lookout in the north cascade mountains where he spent the summer of 1956. If you can’t find it. I’ll send it to you.
>Tell me, how was Edinburgh? Did you end up not going?
>Looks like I’m going to New York for a couple of weeks in early september. A popular month for me to travel. I’ll keep you posted.
>alexander watt wrote:
>> I am having to send this multiple times as the browser is behaving wierdly, and I’m not sure if it’s sending or not.
>> living with m sounds like nice fun, even after all the moral dilemas. I know what you mean, altho, I never lived with a woman as such. The fear: that it might work! And then what? What is the next hurdle to jump? Running around an empty field cris-crossed with white chalk lines, perhaps that’s OK too, perhaps a great void would open and swallow you up. Saw ‘being john Malkovich’ last night, so swallowing voids are on the mind. Also have emerged just now from another marathon session at the big bookshop on Oxford street. Reading a biography (an uncompassionate biography too, unfortunately) of keroac, I concentratred on his on the road – dharma bum days, all this time how poor and miserable he was, finaly when fame (conjured cruelly and unfassionably by Allen ginsburg- the author seemed to think) hit, he was already so unbalanced it sort of spiralled him off into depression forever, or perhaps, anyway it was a lot more desolate of a portrayal than his own books seem to testify. I am wary of alcohol and worldly things and of straying from my own path, yes lines must be drawn in the ever melting snow, despite the absurdity of it all- indeed, because of the absurdity of it all, lines must be drawn, and shield us thus from too much madness and dreams and especially *self destructive behavior, these my thoughts for the weekend- I gift wrap them and send them to you- yes- two souls in loneliness, the times are hard and destined to become moreso I think due to the (your words beautifully put) ‘blind and indifferent amateur’ or our own selfs we might as well say, but then: bless us for we were born as we are, a faulty blessed object in the same old world, left free to do as we wish (around the dustings of past accumulated karma- like the snow, melting). Japanese food and snow, hobbit huts- I share your enthusiasm for all this. While reading some old zen stories in the bookshop just now I was approached by a nice girl from singapore, and questioned shyly and curiously on my beliefs – zombied after hours staring at words in a book I answered as if in a perfect trance. And fittingly, you will be glad to know this; I bought a new teapot just the other day.
>> your stories lighten me up: thank you for sharing all this:
>> as ever,
>> On Sun, 23 Apr 2000 12:58:00 braden wrote:
>> >This enigma spring that always rushes through, blooming up in bland weather and unsettled temperatures. It’s sunday and for once I am alone for which I am a little thankful. M was down but she had to leave early in order to get back for rehearsal. A good weekend overall though. Tom came down on friday and we went out to the Canterbury, an english pub with pool tables close by. I was feeling rich after getting a whole stack of dollar bills in tip money from the restraunt. So I bought tom and I beer all night as we cracked the balls and pulled from our cigarettes. M showed up a little later at my place, the three of us listening to D’angelo and chatting till three. The same story last night as well. Accept we drank a lot more and had wonderful japanese food for dinner. I love all the delicate textures and variety of tastes, the presentation that demands a slow pace. M was not a fan. She eats like a finicky bird, pecking here and there.
>> >She’s moving in with me you know for the summer and this weekend I started to panic. I don’t know if it’s such a good idea. I mean we get along fabulous, but the whole concept of living with a woman, any woman, makes me nervous. I’m trying to keep an open detached mind about the whole thing. But I have these moments, perhaps I’ll catch myself in the smoky mirror of a dim bar, and think how absurd it is to even try to participate in all this hoopla—my face is not my own, my whole facade deteriorates before my eyes, I see only a conglomeration of souls stitched together by a blind and indifferent amateur; these are the moments begin the questioning, and the desire to hide away in a hobbit hut, trying only to penetrate the depths of my own mind….but all that is too much of course, and no matter how melancholy it might make me, my laziness prevails; the only necessity being to work and consume. Yes, I have said all these things to you before, I’m sure, but as you also know, if not for repetition, then nothing at all.
>> >alexander watt wrote:
>> >> Dear Braden,
>> >> Ah yes, the smells! Although fresh wood shavings and sawdust smell nice too, I do enjoy the serving of delicious somethings- and fresh coffee, all ground up. Although we have starbucks in london now, the coffee does not have that same gritty taste- nor do we have half milk&cream to go with it. Yes- I do think I can afford to go to New york in late summer or autumn, although a plane all the way to seattle hardly costs any more, perhaps that would be better. I’m not sure what to do really, I’ve finally found a comfortable niche, but a niche doesn’t seem big enough or something, and then I keep reading all these zen texts, expounding the virtues of nothingness and non-attachment, which always rings such a fundamental bell deep inside me, I feel all powerless in the face of it- pleasantly powerless. These roads we travel! Oh I went to a blues bar last night and was blown away by the band playing- flown in from Chicago, big black guy sweating at the brow and bellowing into the microphone, also a stunning guitarist- we were sitting on the edge of the tiny stage right in front of the speakers, the place was crowded and it was the only patch of ground. The music went on and on, the guitarist kept breaking strings he was uncontrollable and he rubbed the neck of his instrument up against the microphone stand. I smoked a whole pack of cigarettes and got really drunk, but the music seemed to be meant to be listened to while drunk.. I think I had some new insight into what blues is about. They finished at 3am and I stumbled home with ears ringing, I felt so enlivened. Bought a CD and took one of the guitarists broken strings for a momento.
>> >> Love to hear your stories, seems we are doing the same things as always, and forever.
>> >> (!) alex xx
>> >> —
>> >> On Thu, 13 Apr 2000 19:52:42 braden wrote:
>> >> >Alex—
>> >> >
>> >> >I like the cafe and the people who work there. Resturaunt work is a lot like carpentry only it smells better. There’s a satisfaction in being completely exhausted when I get home. A calm sitting at the table with a beer after work with the window open watching the small droplets fall from the tree outside now in blow with spring freshness. It’s wonderful you are returning to the argyle. You’ll have to say hello to all the details for me. The kitchen cabnets. The coffee pot, the herb plants in the sun room, the round tables, the filthy duvets and clean blue sheets. Any one who might still be around as well, which is probably only Jed, perhaps lisa and merideth. I wish I could be there with you more than anything.
>> >> >
>> >> >Life continnues the same. I still grabble with “what’s next” as the weeks turn into months. I’m melancholy and aimless, neither of which are negative, but take settleing into. Often my mind and body feel disconnected, an animal backed into a corner by his own shadow, and I go for long walks through the city to rid myself of it. Over the ridge and down broadway above the city, where some sit at tables on the street sipping thier coffee, yaking away time. M came down last night. We went to play pool for a few hours. I was playing well. Seeing the lines of each shot and smashing them down. Pluck, the little balls break, hysteria. Then an old drunk woman in red, drinking vodka cranberries, wavered in and destroyed me in 10 min.. There’s a level of drunk that occurs just before heaving ones guts, in which clarity in poingnet and skill
>> >> >unmatchable. M left this morning to get back to class. We have disscussed at length her trip to wales. She is concerned about leaving. But it’s only nine months and I’m encouraging her to take advantage. How strange to tell a lover to go.
>> >> >It feels good to write to you, I’ve not been writing much at all lately, March and april are tiny specs in my journal.
>> >> >Are you saving money to travel to india again? If I came traveling with you, it’d wouldn’t be until fall or winter, due to money and the lease on my apartment. Spain sounds divine. Maybe you could get a cheap flight to New York and I could meet you there this summer. Maybe Jed will need a couple of managers for the fall and we can embezzle money from him until march and then flee to italy for summer bliss. See, planning, years in advance! Enjoy. Missing you.
>> >> >
>> >> >Braden
>> >> >
>> >> >alexander watt wrote:
>> >> >
>> >> >> It’s late at night again. Mum has been in town again, and gone off to York now. Her presence in the house was a blessing, I bought a big vase of flowers to celebrate. She gave me a new teddy- a great long limbed zebra who lies on the bed beside me and makes the girls laugh because we look just the same. Theatre continues to be a thrill. We had David Mamet in watching yesterday, it’s his play- ‘speed the plough’. Also Harold Pinter paid a visit. I have been battling a cold for weeks which flared up every time we had another cold wet day. I think it’s gone now.
>> >> >> wine continues to trickle between my lips on occasion. I think of old days… I will be paying 14 Argyle place a visit again next month, with mum and dad, we’ll stay for two nights, make some soup, wander down the stony streets. All the trees should be green and nice, it might be warm.
>> >> >> I did recover from my infatuation with ‘the witch from eastwick’ somewhat, as was inevitable, but sad almost, and an interesting thorn in the record, to keep and read for later I suppose. I continue basically single.
>> >> >> The days seem suddenly heavy, and my dreams more vivid and epic. I am able to enter trances and strange meditations during theatre. I think of the himalayas. I am also saving up some money.
>> >> >> :just another weekly report, all this. Is the cafe fun and interesting? I’m sorry if my mails are a bit scattered and unreal, it’s the blinking of the cursor, a spilt flask of momentary thoughts and emotions, congealing suddenly. I don’t know if it would be very easy for you to work here again without a permit, the only people I know doing it in london are polish refugees in dingy hotels, the money is terrible.. probably it’s different outside the city. Maybe we could go fruit picking in spain, live cheaply for months, I’d like to go to spain, sleep under the stars when it’s warm, eat lots of grapes and olives and, oh I don’t know.. maybe figs? do they do that there? I know someone who’s doing some pilgrimage from spain to france in june or july, for two weeks, starts with the running of the bulls and then you walk overland and stay in monasteries.
>> >> >>
>> >> >> well who can say?
>> >> >> alex xxx
>> >> >>
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>> >> >
>> >> >
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