I'm lying on my brown faux-leather sofa with nothing to do. The games are over tonight, and I didn't even watch them. Germany will play England on Sunday, and Argentina waits for the winner, so who cares who else goes through? Pink Floyd is on the stereo, electric guitars wailing distortedly, "What do you want from me?" But neither my drowsiness nor the music is enough to blot out the sounds from the street.
My window is wide open. Now that it's warm outside, that's something I treasure. Never again will I live in a ground-floor flat. Traffic bursts into my living room. Cars, buses and the all-too-frequent ambulances and cop cruisers invade my space, unfiltered. The noise is no nuisance. Every double-decker that pulls away, with howling engines, from the bus stop just across the street reminds me that this is London, the greatest city of all, home of everything imaginable, a kaleidoscope of possibilities. When I praised this place the other day, I didn't even mention the spectacular Picasso exhibition I had seen that same day. It's that kind of place. You must be nuts not to live here.
On my coffee table are fresh pistachios and dry gin. Both go well together and fit the music's melancholic tunes. The last two hours saw me go through the last 100 pages of the The Black Album, the second Hanif Kureishi book I've read. After The Buddha of Suburbia, I was ready to admit the author into my personal pantheon of great writers, but now I'm not so sure anymore. I know I'm reading a fantastic story when the process of reading becomes transparent, when I smell and breathe the story, when I'm sucked in to live the lines of each page as if they were an experience or sensations projected straight onto my brain. The Black Album was words someone had written. Reading it was like observing the action from a distance and literally through a layer of densely printed black characters on pulpy paper. I didn't get half as much joy out of it as I had expected.
This morning my orchid, which, after a sustained diet of invigorating neglect mixed with nourishing care, had sprouted buds and then bloomed, shed its last blossom. After nearly six months of mottled pink incredibility, the last limp corolla sailed to the floor when I wasn't looking, leaving a proud plant looking exposed and wasted. I cut the two naked shoots and relegated the comatose monocot to the darkest corner of my apartment, giving it the calm and time to recover its strength.
As Roger Waters croons the honeyed lines of A Great Day for Freedom I realize that I'm in need of rest myself. When the latest paycheck hit my inbox I was shocked to discover that it's already the end of June. What has happened to 2010? It seems that just days ago we had entered the new year, only to discover that it was cold and miserable. Six months have passed, but somehow they have passed me by. I have worked hard enough and maybe also, knock on wood, successfully, and I've had my share of fun. But it feels like I've been racing since last summer. Even the holidays I took weren't particularly relaxing. While most people travel to unwind, I always seem to go on projects rather than vacations. This was fine when I lived in more sedate places and was hungry for action, but now there's craziness and speed around me at all times. When do I get away? If nothing else, an easy evening on the sofa is a good start. The Division Bell has rung out, but there's plenty more music on my iPod, and plenty of gin in the fridge.