Jango, Unchained

Hey Baby Bear,

Today I’d like to tell you about my night last night. It did feature music, but only by the end. It’s going to take me seven paragraphs to get there… Just like death, the end of the article always comes, usually at about the expected time!

Too sombre?

I kind of like thinking about death. One time I tried to talk to my mum about it, not in an abstract way, and not because anyone was sick, but because I thought “Maybe it’s good to talk about it before the time comes. If we talk about it, we can’t be ‘prepared’ but maybe just a little bit it’ll take an edge off.” We’re lead to believe talking about things is a good thing – but she didn’t want to, it was too real.

So last night I sat beside a man called “Moe” for most of the evening. We would have looked like a strange pair – him with no teeth really, a septum piercing, scabs on his hands, a kind, pale, indigenous face, wide eyes; me with my entire set of crooked teeth, in a denim dress and cashmere stockings, a jumper eaten by clothing bugs and that used to also be a dress before I hacked at it, wide eyes. Actually we sound like a perfect pair on paper, but the thing is, this is one of the reasons I go to this place on Tuesdays. Men like “Moe” who look rough, smell rough, feel various amounts of shame and steel pride living at the edge of acceptability, don’t usually have long deep conversations with people outside their sphere – and the same, generally, with people in my sphere. We are separated, apart from the occasional brush in the street.

But last night “Moe” was my favourite and maybe I was his. I’d like to tell you everything we discussed, but some things should be kept private. But in this conversation I was not as careful as I might be sometimes to say the right things, to empathise in the right way… We just were keeping it very real. One thing he told me though, same as last time we talked, was “I haven’t talked about all this to anyone for a long time.” At some point in the conversation Moe told me about one of the guys whose plaque was up on the wall outside. Someone who hung himself. No matter how bad things were at the moment, he couldn’t imagine doing something like that.

Moe showed me the book he’s reading, set in Havana, Cuba, one of the only countries I’m really dying to visit one day. He reads it in the caravan at night, waiting for sleep to hit him but with the story chasing sleep away every time it approaches… There was a 50s Ford on the front cover, a car my dad would know the make and model of from the photo – Moe knew too.

One of my other favourites was there last night: I’ll call him “Tov”. He usually gives me cheek, makes fun of me for doing something as ridiculous as spending Tuesday nights serving food to lonely men and drug addicts. “Haven’t you got anything better to do?” is his general vibe. I hold onto my own pride and shame, in my own way, and make a joke back or retreat to the kitchen. But last night we inched a little tiny bit closer to friendship.

It started by me telling him about doing a radio show the next morning. He got out his phone and typed in the number for the studio so he could call up and raz my friend Matt who goes on the show as well. Then he showed me how he listens to music. “Have you heard of Jango?” “Django Reinhardt?” “No, Jango.” Then he showed me how it all works, making your own music channel, djing your own songs from the infinite possibilities, all the songs linked together by some great algorithm, or maybe some poorly paid temporary music researcher in Mumbai. This fits into his day somewhere between getting up, flogging or buying the paper, doing the crosswords, jumping in second hand clothing bins, wandering to find weed, rinse and repeat – except that it’s hard to rinse because he sleeps in the park and doesn’t own a washing machine. When Moe came out for a smoke they both talked about it for a while – which bins were best, how much they can’t stand people who go through the bins, chuck everything out, and then leave the mess… The waste of people throwing out new toys, electrical equipment.

Back inside, just me and Moe, after I’d heated up his apple pie so he could eat it with his two remaining teeth, we talked about a special event coming up in his next week – one that could go really bad or really good. I thought maybe if he prepared a little bit in his mind it might take the edge off. He was ready to talk about real things even though we were almost strangers, but I loved him like I would love a father or mother somehow. Maybe I’ll see him next week and maybe I won’t, depending on the infinitely complex algorithms that led to this one time of us being next to each other at a table in front of apple pie and a photo of a 50s Ford, all the rest of our pasts and futures spinning off into the distance, talking for a while and managing to keep it pretty real.

p.s. an die lieben Mädchen aus Deutsch tumblr, ich habe nicht Ihr Video noch nicht gesehen, aber ich bin sehr aufgeregt, … c. und sein Handy sind weit weg. aber eines Tages werde ich es sehen … danke für deine Süße und Denken von mir aus der Ferne. das ist etwas ganz Besonderes für mich … Ich bin froh, dass Sie Ihren Kalender lieben. eines Tages vielleicht treffen wir uns. bis dahin, viele Umarmungen, auch wenn Zäune sind im Weg. offenbar der Brief, den Sie geschrieben haben kommt, in der Mail… vielleicht sogar kommen heute :) viel, viel Liebe, Amber