This morning we stopped in front of the United Order of Mechanics, it was a building that used to be the Lincoln Club, a Republican institution from back when Republicans were Republicans. A man in a minivan with open windows said, “Hey, are you looking at our building?”
I was on this walking tour with a handful of people, I decided to be the one to talk to him, “Yes,” I said, and he told me, though the open window of the tan minivan with leather seats, that they could not change the inside, people kept offering to buy it, they would not sell, it used to be the Lincoln Club, it used to be a rest home for sailors, a house of ill repute for sailors, he said, among other things. The Mechanics’ place in Jamaica was much nicer, he said. But we can’t sell. We can’t change anything. “Thank you for sharing that,” I said, we went on, five miles’ worth of Brooklyn including, oddly, the Senegalese restaurant where I had a glass of wine last time I did laundry.
Last time I felt funny about being alone, I wasn’t sure if this was the kind of thing people do alone, this time I was happy I was alone at the beginning, at the arrival, especially, when you notice others on the subway, and others in the park, who have the signs of being in on it, it makes that juicy. And I had the “Mission: Impossible” theme in my head, I was listening to that.
Everyone is in on it now, honestly, almost everyone. There are hundreds of people in that meadow for it, there are thirty people in the meadow who don’t know what’s going on. Tops.
Anyway it gets going, I fret about not being perfectly synced. I don’t know how people push the button AT THE SECOND IT BECOMES 7:06, also I had neglected to synchronize my phone to THE ATOMIC CLOCK, I guess I was on Apple time, isn’t that sufficient. I’m a little off, I see what to do before I hear it, I see people stand up, or I hear them begin to sing, before I am myself directed to do so. So I try to move my audio track up and back, this makes things worse.
The moment we are all walking, though, all together, I am blonde so I am the first one It in freeze tag, and the moments we are playing “The Matrix” guy and the moments we all lie down, and I think, Everyone is lying down. Everyone is looking at that sky, is just as spiritual to me as church. We are so big with so many pieces, so many hands and different shoes and colors of colored light and heights. We are all in the same moment together, and it’s different than being in the same moment at the theater, or at a concert, although that is great, too. The Experiment is active, and has room for you in it, you are making it, instead of being swallowed by it. Especially because I am a lone artist, I make things by myself, almost always, whether writing or drawing or painting, and I never make music with others anymore, this is precious.
We are directed to take out our flashlights, I have forgotten my flashlight. So while people have light saber battles, I walk and watch. Outside. Well, then someone runs up and stabs me with her light saber, someone else slashes at me, so I wince, throw myself over.
We hear to gather round the tallest person we find and shine flashlights and watch them dance, we do this, our tall person is obliging.
When the recording tells us it is the last thing, this is after we have been throwing glow sticks in the air, twenty at a time, then twenty others, then others, which is really pretty, the ending makes me sad, the ending is so harsh. How could it not be, not like we would all fit in a restaurant or a bar afterward, to celebrate what we did, we wouldn’t fit anywhere.
It ends, some people walk away, right away, some linger around the edges, we are in this meadow, the sky dark, the moon crescent, trees in a ring around us, a few buildings tall enough to see in a further ring.
I was so tired I thought I should go, I wandered a bit, though, took a few photos, you should not photograph during, you should participate, but it was over.
In a bunch, people gathered around a duo hula-hooping with hoops of flashing lights– trippy– and then someone got in the middle to dance, to music we could barely hear, must have been on a phone, and a girl got in with him and danced with him a little.
I walked away and I was lonely. People were with their people talking about how great it had been. We were all returning to civilian life. You could tell some of us by our reflective vests, glowsticks still in hand or hair. I tucked my glowing things away.
A guy with a British accent asked me where Flatbush was, and we chatted about was this your first time at one of these things, are there always this many people, wasn’t it fun.
I waited for the train and I still felt so alone, the contrast between being a complete and accepted part of a big organism and then just yourself.
I got to my building and one of my neighbors was on the stoop drinking a beer. “I got you something,” I said, and I gave him one of my glowing wands with a star on top.
“Thanks,” he said.
“Don’t get so excited,” I said, “Calm down.”
Two stoops down, another neighbor waved at me, I walked down there and gave him another one of the wands, he introduced me to his father, I gave the other two guys there wands. “Hey I have a kid!” one said. I didn’t need anyone to have kids. There are kids at the MP3 Experiment, but like my sister’s Tag Institute of yore, providing space and opportunity for everyone to play was the thing. No one had to be a kid.
“Come back down and have a drink with us,” neighbor said.
“Oh, I would, but I’m so tired,” I said, which is what I say every time they ask me, almost, but it’s true, mostly. I felt better anyway I went upstairs.
First image: the Lincoln Club,from Cultural Landmarks of New York – From the book “The Landmarks of New York” (SUNY Press), a definitive resource on the landmarks history of New York City by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel.
Second image: my materials for the MP3 Experiment, inside my purse waiting patiently.
Independent United Order of Mechanics, Friendly Society Note: this group is like the Masons, nothing told to do with fixing cars, which is almost a disappointment to some, at least me, until you realize how much odder they are than people who merely fix cars.