Monday, December 05, 2005

Everybody Digs Bill Evans

It is nearly 4 AM, Sunday night/Monday morning and I'm just now home from work, having kissed Lillet, who is asleep, her alarm set for less than four hours from now. I have closed the door between this room and our bedroom, just as she does for me on Saturday and Sunday mornings. At those times, not quite half-awake, I can sometimes hear her typing or talking quietly on the phone to neighborhood friends, making plans for brunches I cannot join because my hours mean I must sleep well past noon on the weekend.

It used to be that after leaving work I would go to another bar until nearly dawn, sometimes well into Monday and Tuesday daylight. For the past two years, though, I've been more likely to unwind after work by reading Wikipedia, darting from entry to entry without much rhyme or reason.
I know that before leaving for her job early in the morning Lillet may glance at the browser window I left open to see which entry sent me off to bed — the Brouwer Fixed-Point Theorem, Bill Evans, or maybe she noticed that I noticed that Carl Dreyer, like Paul Auster, has a birthday one day after mine (and Ashbloem's) — and she will glean from just this more information than most people can learn about another in a lifetime of observation, just as I can from seeing that tonight while I was at work she googled dino ironbody.

I remember the strange feeling of first happening across the Wikipedia entry for my graduate advisor. Hello! As if I were in a wax museum looking at a lifelike but all-too-lifeless figurine of a man who was for a brief period like a father to me. A
common 4 AM tangent: Of the people I have met, which have had someone write a Wikipedia entry about them?

(Ten such people, chosen more or less at random: Paul Cohen, Peter Dinklage, Edward Gorey, Stephen Jay Gould, Sir Stuart Hampshire, Phillippe Petit, Gilda Radner, Condoleeza Rice, George Schultz, Cecil Taylor.)

What a nice, strange selection of people. I am very lucky to have met these people,
to have been shown so many beautiful and useless things. It's odd to me that no one has yet written entries for, oh, Allegra Kent or Willem Breuker, but odder still to realize that I have met two Secretaries of State!? George Schultz I found to be very nice, even charming, and these are qualities that Dr. Rice absolutely did not evince on the day I met her, leaving me here, now, wincing at my own nostalgia for the Reagan era.

It is 4 AM, Sunday night/Monday morning and Twiggy is "makin' biscuits" on Trevor, the tiger peluche that Lillet resuced from a Goodwill before she was my wife or even my girlfriend. (Was she ever my girlfriend?) And I am listening — on headphones, so as not to disturb her — to Bill Evans, because Bill Evans is the new Ana Ng.

There have been lots of new Ana Ngs — wine, chess, algebraic topology, dogs, the taxonomy of Indo-European languages, Jess Franco movies, the Tour de France. It's just Lillet's code phrase for what someone else might call my little local obsessions, sudden flareups of the Asperger's syndrome that is usually in remission. But she knows it's more than that. She knows that these new Ana Ngs are the particle trails in the cloud chamber of my head-and-heart.

How odd that anyone should see this, let alone care about it.

One of my greatest fears about retiring from smoking was that I had become so good at it. As I smoker, I was without peers. Why would I want to stop doing something that I did so well? I have also been very, very good at being lonely. When I sat in bars until other men my age were suited and briefcased and on their way to work I was not at all locally lonely. I had dozens of friends, genuine friends. But I was lonely in particular.

Anyone who thinks joy to be a superset of happiness cannot really have experienced it. And as lonely as I've been and as unhappy as I've been, I experience joy all the time, thanks to all the new Ana Ngs, thanks to the trope of turning towards, thanks to assent. Lillet is that to which I am always turning towards. She gives form to the contents of my thoughts even when I am at my weakest and most fearful, even when I am afraid of no longer being lonely.


Blogger Ashbloem said...

This, Trey: gorgeous. Soothing and perfect. This entry makes me believe in love, as cheesy as that sounds.

Words, my friend. They have a power.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Awesome. That's all I got.

11:18 AM  
Blogger mega74 said...

This is beautiful.

- a genuine friend.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, this is a year & a half later & I only found this post googling for a good photo of Cecil Taylor, and when I saw the text sample with Cecil in a list following George Schultz ?! (along with a photo of Phillippe Petit on the high wire), I sorta LOL'd and WTF'd and just HAD to see what in the world could possibly bring those 3 people together.

Now, what was meeting Cecil like?!?! Haha - peace out,


8:32 PM  

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