On Saturday night I felt like an artist but today I just feel broke. The ups and downs of chasing an ever-fleeting dream are very pronounced. I was so high a few days ago. I shared a piece of a story that I have been running away from for five years the other night. The story is fictional but the emotions that the protagonist experiences are completely autobiographical. I had a hard time approaching the stage. No matter how many times I rehearsed those few pages, I still sat in the crowd nervous as hell before I was welcomed to the microphone.
I didn’t invite any of my family or friends. I didn’t post anything on social media about the event. I wanted to do it alone. The story is about a man who is dealing with a tragedy but even more tragic for him is that he is asked to speak publicly about what he is dealing with. He must express his emotions verbally and I was there in that café on Saturday night to do the exact same thing.
I was scared. I was the only black man in the room and that’s how I wanted it. I didn’t want anyone else in there that would be able to gage the magnitude of the situation. I wanted every comment afterwards to be a disconnected one. I didn’t want to be felt, I just wanted to be heard.
I got caught up in my reading. I got into character and played a little bit with vocal intonation and dramatic pause. I read the piece as if I was coming up with it on the spot. I felt like I was that character, in that place where he was, in front of the people that he knew, and I felt that way because I was. If an artist can catch the Holy Ghost then I did. I never got happy in church but I got happy on the stage in front of all those foreign faces. And when I was done they paid me heavily with applause. They paid me with praise. They asked me if I had a card. I do not but I will order some soon.
The performance of a writer is bizarre because all you can do is read to your audience. You can’t tap dance or sing in a falsetto. You can’t show the audience your photography or allow them to marvel at the aesthetic beauty of your painting. All you have are your words.
I shared my words and they listened. I got really high. I left and went one way while all those in attendance went another. That’s the way I like it. I was a real literary performer. I was a pure artists, an expert storyteller, a gifted individual, but now it’s Monday. The show is over. The curtains have closed and I am one of a hundred million other people forced to work at a punk-ass job that I hate just to keep the lights on.
I was so high and now I’m so low.