Kentucky Juju, Part One
Day Five of Thirty Days of Writing
The air conditioning unit kicks on again. Louisville, Kentucky. A four-hour drive through pounding rain, and then we stumble into an oasis. From the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and Europe, we have come for a reunion. The whole cast is here, reassembled in an Air B&B that backs up to a veritable jungle. It’s 3am and everyone is finally going to sleep. The back deck is a long H shape, and I sit in the cricket hum stillness alone. A different sort of aftermath. There’s a fire-pit surrounded by comically red lounge chairs, stacks of pallets with bright cushions on top, and a tent supporting Christmas lights. Think Pier One Imports meets the clearance section of Walmart.
The air conditioning unit kicks off. A game occurs to my sleep deprived mind. Write as much as possible in the interims. The place is bigger and nicer than I expected. More secluded too, better for getting wild like in the old days except now we’ve all learned how to clean up after ourselves.
It’s very quiet when the buzz of the unit is missing. It mocks the way I’ve felt lately, that my brain has been missing its usual rhythm, the poetry I used to so easily find has gone out of me. A possession I’ve finally ridded myself of? I’m so sober now. It feels good, except when I try on these sleepless nights to hack through the-
The unit kicks back on. The first night here has been an interesting mix of feelings. I feel old and so young. The atmosphere is charged, maybe because of the lightning that split the sky for hours. I could feel it, pink and silver, raising my arm hairs. Each second counts now, don’t you feel it? We have to take advantage of these precious minutes…
Do we always feel this way? Why am I so alive now- in a way I haven’t felt in ages? I know the answer- it lies in the back of my throat which grows scratchy from the cigarettes. These are the stories I want to tell. These people, out in the world, separately, going from day to day, each with their own hearts beating, this is the heart of it for me. A pattern of vibrations that form an effortless harmony. The first night with us all together is like an orchestra tuning up. Our shit-eating grins and mischievous sideways glances confirm it.
The drive through the storm was easier when I unfocused my eyes. I let the car glide between two faintly glowing yellow lines, letting all thought soak back into the darkness, letting it go like each mile-marker. I’m going to have mosquito bites tomorrow on my elbows. I yawn. All that movement catching up to me.
The unit goes quiet. I’d forgotten what it was like on the road at night. The way there are no lights to guide you for the longest stretches, and then, suddenly they appear and I mistake them for helicopters, my eyes weary.
I’ve been to Louisville before, almost exactly a year ago. After San Francisco and L.A. and Denver. But I’m getting ahead of myself. To tell the story of this gathering, where so many of our characters reunite, I have to continue the thread.