Back in Montreal and it feels good. Yesterday I took a thirteen-hour train ride to get up here from New York, and this is what I would have written on the train if I weren't so damn tired:
I'm sitting next to an old man, looks about 80, and I'm wondering if he likes jazz. A lot of old men like jazz. Maybe that's why I like old men. But that can't be completely it. I'm past liking people just because they like jazz--too superficial.
I like this old guy, though. He's wearing Velcro sneakers, blue starchy pants, and a funny red striped shirt. We haven't spoken at all, but I think we understand each other pretty well. We understand that we're both tired and this train ride is interminable and we're only into Schenectady and the Amtrak coffee is weak and burnt.
As the train pulls out of Whitehall I take out my laptop and plug in my earphones to listen to some music. I wonder what he thinks of the Beatles. "I Should Have Known Better" has been in my head for about three weeks and I put it on. The iTunes controls are on random selection and when the song ends, Billie Holiday comes on.
There's something soporific about Billie's voice, and I want to fall asleep, so I let a few of her songs run through. No luck. But the man is asleep beside me. He didn't even need Billie--or maybe he could hear her through my earphones.
Back on random selection and Duke Ellington's "Morning Glory" comes on. Beautiful, but it ends. I really want to listen to Sonny Rollins, but I have none on my computer, so I put on Cassandra Wilson. Her voice is sort of soporific too, though I love her.
Looking to my left, the man's eyes are open. Maybe Cassandra woke him up, though I doubt this version of "Polkadots and Moonbeams" could do that to anyone. He must know this song though. He probably danced to it at his prom. I wish I could have danced to it at my prom. My wishes were probably his reality. Maybe that's what we have in common.