I dropped Eric off at JFK yesterday for his flight to England. Weeks, months, years even of getting ready for this moment, where reissues of his post-Stiff albums are coming out on Fire and pages of press in the UK and his sixtieth birthday and shows to go along with it. Weird to be traveling separately or not at all these days but I'll join him in England next week. For now I felt like I'd helped all I could, except for more practice on my parts for the shows I'll be playing on, and it was time to meet up with my friend Angela, but we'd left it to "I'll call or text when I'm coming" and I stood by the exit of Terminal 7 with the limo and car service drivers, trying to charge my phone in a wall socket because I'd left my car charger in the other car.
We have two cars now! The 2002 Buick LeSabre is Eric's. Leave it to him to find the perfect touring car.
I could pass for a car service driver in the Buick. Only, on my way out of the airport, with a barely-charged phone I realized I had no idea how to get to the old neighborhood in Brooklyn from JFK in Queens and our ragged road atlas was in the other car. As I rounded a traffic circle once, twice, three times, and a sign for Belt Parkway West kept looming up, I started to question whether JFK was actually in Queens. I knew from watching Goodfellas two dozen times that it was, but its a borough I've only started to engage with since my daughter moved to Ridgewood. Was Brooklyn west of Queens? Or north, or south? I exited for the car rental places and crouched on the floor next to an outlet in Enterprise scrawling out the GPS directions to Williamsburg. No major roads; street names I'd never heard of - I'd have to trust the lady in my phone who now sighed and died away with a final vibrating shudder.
Moleskine propped in the ashtray, I was Ray Liotta with the helicopters overhead until stark conduits became side roads and neighborhoods of charming apartment buildings and elevated train tracks and stately cemeteries on graceful hillsides. New green leaves unfolded in dappled sunshine, everyone was smiling. The final turn put me on Forest Avenue which climbed and descended through one last homey neighborhood before depositing me near Western Beef at the border of Brooklyn - I was home free.
But my phone still wasn't working. I parked in front of Angela's building and stood staring at the row of buzzers. Which one? I remembered a grumpy Italian landlord with an ailing wife and didn't dare take a chance pressing randomly, so I walked up and down Graham Avenue looking for somewhere I could plug in for a few minutes. Ordered a cold press iced coffee, the first of the season, in a rustic coffee shop and sat down next to an outlet and waited.
Walter Egan's "Magnet & Steel" snaked through the air while cute girls in shorts and ankle boots and black-framed glasses pounded at sleek little laptops. I was in a cartoon of a remake of an early episode of "Girls", with every lovely creature typing "I may be the voice of my generation". They all looked like they knew what they were doing. Even their writing software seemed sophisticated and organized.
How do they all know what they're doing? I'm fifty-five and I still can't figure it out.
Amy with Schoemer Formation, photo by Karen Crumley Keats.
"Boogie Shoes" came on and the ankle boots all tapped and swiveled in time. It was so cute, I wanted to shout "I love you all so much, don't ever change! Stay focused!" Even if it's a pose.
My phone was still dead. I went back to Angela's building and pressed a few buzzers and eventually got the right one.