This is one of-if not-my favorite essays I have written, ever. By far, the stories with the greatest entertainment value over the past nine years have been the ones I have accrued as a widowed man, back into the dating world. As I have stated earlier in this series, somehow, when I came up with Single Dadventure, I began to write my life into existence and life and art imitated one another in a perpetual fashion.
#BBTTM has been my favorite collection and body of work. This was where I began to redevelop and find a new voice and vantage point to write from.
Until I began to see a therapist, I have learned the most about myself through the experiences with the women I have encountered. With the loss of my daughter’s mother, I had to sort through my trauma and figure out who I was with lots of nuance, context, and such. It was the first time and how I have learned writing for catharsis.
So, without further ado, here’s Sugar:
The ninth track from Lenny Kravitz’ third album, Are You Gonna Go My Way is perfection. For a little less than four minutes, Kravitz croons in a pocket as the music floats and meanders between soft rock and r&b elements; it’s beautiful. I have listened to the song so much I’ve noticed the bit of microphone feedback squeak, panned to the left speaker, right before the first verse begins. As nonchalant and outwardly non-expressive as I can be, I can’t help but smile whenever I play this song.
“Sugar” makes me crack a grin out the corner of my mouth; it takes me to my happy place.
As of right now, Brooklyn comes to mind, a morning drive down Broadway in Bedford Stuyvesant to be specific. There are flashes of memories from thirty years prior, in the same neighborhood, on the same street under the elevated J train, looking out of the window of the van that took me to and from where I went to preschool on Quincy Street. The neighborhood is very different from 1989.
I flash back to 2019, make a left onto Eastern Parkway, then a right onto Bushwick, and pass through the windy road which will forever refer to as The Interborough (It was renamed the Jackie Robinson Parkway in 1997).
There are other drives which conjur similar emotions. A merge onto the FDR from York Ave to cross the Triboro Bridge (Now the Robert Kennedy Bridge) back into Queens. Train rides home from to Columbus Circle. The Throgs Neck and/or Whitestone as I returned from the Bronx, and a other mornings from all five boroughs. I love the moment when the city that never sleeps begins to wake up because there is an indescribable peacefulness to it.
The common thread is a return home from my escapes from my real life. Sometimes they are walks of shame and others, just out all night with good company. Deep down, I am aware each person I left was not someone to pursue and establish a long-term relationship with. Nonetheless, it was a moment to indulge and for such a calculated person, live a little.
I think indulgence is what the song represents to me. All the shit Lenny sang was not real; it was why he referred so much to his and her love feeling-instead of being-real. But in the moment, he means it. It’s a fantasy, a harmless shot of dopamine to the brain that gives all of the amorous feelings, similar to a blissful head rush.
I guess in my case, I have these quiet morning commutes to ride the brief, intense high. Good music moodily played in a major key give a great backdrop for the sensory overload as I sort through memories and place them in the rightful parts of my brain. Residual odors of alcohol and sometimes marijuana from the night before have habituated, so I don’t even notice them anymore; yet I can smell her pheromones, hair, and perfume and it prolongs the high as I’m starting to come down.
You start the evenings on a first name, familial basis. When it’s time to say “see you later,” both of us are “baby,” where the y drops off but it’s not quite “babe.” It isn’t meant to be taken with seriousness; just an acknowledgment of endearment because the two of you connected. In time, you may, an, and will become a nameless someone you hung out with “that one time,” or multiple times. But you shared a moment where everything they said was interesting, you were uncharacteristically attentive, and perhaps lovers. You mattered and the bond the two of you shared is one of zero expectations.
Everyone wants to feel as if they matter. We are our harshest critics. If the voices in our heads were actual people, they are not someone we would befriend. Those thoughts shaped from our unique combination of life experiences rule our world, underneath an unconscious surface. Its purpose helps us all project an inflated image of ourselves, is the same voice in the back of our heads which frightens us with a “Don’t let your crazy slip out!” We hope those idiosyncrasies don’t push people away and we’re remembered for what we deem as our finer qualities. However, it is a combination of both the confident and crazy that leave impressions on others which last.
In time, none of the women I have written about in this whole thing will matter. As I get older, more memories and experiences will accrue and these people will become flashes of memories, in a similar fashion to my recollection of Bed Stuy in 1989 as I drove down Broadway 30 years later. I guess while many of these memories are still fresh, everyone in here can know not only they mattered; but long after they are faded pictures, reading some of this will bring them back to life. I’ll remember smiles and faces, the way I’d look at them when they weren’t looking, and little anecdotes about themselves they’ve shared. And I too, can crack a smile, much like the one track nine on Are You Gonna Go My Way prompts me to.