“Autumn darkness falls so soon and steals my soul” was the first line of a poem I wrote once. I don’t know the rest of the poem because it was stolen with bags full of my writing. One day, in the heat of summer, in the very early 1990s, when we lived in Hoboken, I drove to Florent and sat all day going through tons of notebooks, annotating my writing, deciding what would become what—novel, poem, comedy piece, etc—I must have been there four hours at least. Then I drove and parked the car on Mercer or Green street to meet Lynne to go see a film at the Angelika. I had put all my bags, including my favorite Millet backpack I’d bought in Grenoble, in the trunk. When we came out of the film we found the trunk had been broken into and all my bags were gone.
I don’t know if someone told us to, or if we just knew to, but we drove to the East Village where people sold stuff on the street. We didn’t see any trace of what was taken. I think about the thieves, just grabbing all the bags and running, only to find they are filled with someone’s writing which is of no value to them but of great value to only one person. I’m sure the karmic payback for that swindle was great.
The most sad loss was a green French graph paper notebook Lynne had given me when we lived in Grenoble into which she put a poem I wrote her—she rewrote it onto the first page. And then wrote: “Now write”. The poem was called Run With Me and it was a sort of invitation to her to spend the rest of her life with me. I’m most sad about that.
I think I got writing on this subject because I was trying to pinpoint the feeling I feel now. And I suppose it is just very close to that feeling I felt at the loss of my bags. But instead of bags it’s now this free floating sense of loss over what I once had, now gone, and what I never had. You can definitely feel loss for something that you never owned or experienced. Isn’t that some kind of strange twist on empathy. Being empathetic for some version of yourself you never were.
Typos happen—I don’t have time or an intern to edit.*
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