Back on the Road

I spent much of the plane ride staring at a mustache in the window seat. (I’m an aisle man, man.) It glinted and bristled. Clutching my dormant cell phone, I fell in and out of strange sleep, only to awaken, again and again, with my eyes magnetically held on that salt-and-peppery, yet deeply unappetizing, cluster of hairs … behind which the vast misty Earth unfolded, 35,000 feet away, blue and gold tendrils of a dawning, atmospheric Monday. Good God, man, I thought, what sort of person wears a mustache like that? It was an unholy visitation, the price of some bad bargain. He did not seem to be evil, otherwise; but his mustache spoke hirsute malice.

The evening before, I had consummated a solemn rite. With passionate resolve, I determined, in a two hour period, to straighten all in my life that was unstraightened, and then to fall into saintly slumber. Best laid plans. The straightening process left a tremendous rubble in its wake. Eventually the arteries of my apartment, always narrow, became harrowing; they required bypass surgeries that they would not get. Climbing my way between Piles of Music Past and Piles of Music Yet to Come, between J Crew catalogs and long-lost paystubs, mired in expired to-do lists, I was attempting to incarnate in my suitcase some sort of condensed, intense microcosm of my next trip’s state of mind, an ur-wardrobe which would land in Detroit without incident and set the stage for .. who knows? I ransacked my worldly possessions for these perfect items. It appeared as though I was burgling my own apartment. After a time, only the suitcase was clean, pristine, contained, zippable; while every other square inch of the space descended into chaos. Somewhere in there, I discovered something that I should have known for a long long time.

I was trying to pack up my phone when I realized it.

My cell phone charger and my laptop charger had slowly, over the last months, become inseparable. They were locked below my kitchen table, I noticed, in a desperate embrace, intertwined black and white ivy, surging with 120 volts. I made a desultory stab at separating them. But they were whorled, gnarled, a spectacular, Escher-esque accumulation of spirals receding into what passes for infinity in the Greystone Hotel. Due to the hazards of living in my proximity, they were both sprinkled liberally with coffee grounds, and the caffeinated residue seemed only to bring them closer, to unite them in squalor. A hushed conference over my kitchen table ensued: me, my chargers. How could I break asunder what God had brought together? In chaos I had found love. I decided to do the right thing. We had a Commitment Ceremony. Some Bach was played. I read them some short passages from Emerson about Love and Friendship, and some bleak poems of Montale (for perspective, realism, pragmatism) and then, after a moment of silence, they were united in perpetuity. I cried a few bitter tears. Chargers grow up, they’re around for a while, but eventually, if you love them, you have to let them go…

Even the man at the security line the next day seemed to acknowledge the ineffable power of love. He pulled out my computer charger to run through the machine again. He only wanted the one, but the other clung desperately, following its mate out of the bag and onto the belt. He tugged briefly, looked at them, looked at me, he held the seeming mass of spaghetti out at arm’s length. I am sure, at that point, he saw the pain on my face, and, sighing, he ran them through the machine together. Even in X-ray vision their passion was magnificent, full-blooded, corporeal.

While all this emotional stuff was taking place, I was often on the phone with friend L. Other desperate situations had presented themselves. For instance, another friend had texted the following:

Con lovin’d knuc gluawt

What could it possibly mean? L and I debated at length. Its author was unavailable for comment. “Lovin” was clearly the only comprehensible segment, but perhaps it was a red herring? Anyway the apostrophe-d somewhat confused the grammatical sense. (Meanwhile: love was in the air, my newlyweds were happily consummating in the privacy of my bag what they had been too shy to express out in the open.) What was “gluawt”? I felt this was the key. But our various theories failed to pan out…

This text seemed the final, devastating enigma of the last two months, which I had spent more or less at home, in an attempt to have a “routine.” Many peculiar things had happened—odd changes and unexpected events—but there were frequent visits from the unwanted familiar. What did I discover in this routine but a self-limiting circle? I had spent a spectacular amount of time with my piano, and now we eyed each other warily. We too had our commitment ceremony, each day. Most importantly: yet another significant period of my life had elapsed in which the list of things I had intended to do bore little resemblance to the things actually done. My relationship with the organized agenda was still contentious, seemed fraught, perhaps, with “glauwt.” I asked L in desperation, throwing socks and receipts into scattered piles, “What’s to become of us, what are we to do with our lives?”

“Whatever it is,” she said wryly, “we’re already doing it.”

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  1. Frankie
    Posted June 11, 2007 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Now I know how a news junkie like me chooses to check your blog before BBC World News. I wish you could post your insights more often. Your writing simply makes my day!

    Thanks, Jeremy!

  2. Posted June 11, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Oh, Jeremy, the pathos… I am only just now able to quell my sobs enough to put fingers to keyboard and say just three small words: “Getting Things Done”. ( ). Take it from a former pack rat- there is hope!

  3. Posted June 12, 2007 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    This borders on genius. It may, in fact, BE genius, but the uncertainty of “gluawt” leaves me slightly in doubt of your cognitive powers.

    Thank you, really. This was the perfect start to my morning.

  4. Posted June 12, 2007 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Truly, you are the E.T.A. Hoffmann of our days. What other genius could play music AND words with such wondrous dexterity? Thank you, a thousand times, denk you!

  5. Posted June 12, 2007 at 2:07 pm | Permalink
  6. Posted June 12, 2007 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I heard your Concord Sonata at Carnegie last Thursday. It ruled.

    Snazzy website, too!

  7. Posted June 12, 2007 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    What could it possibly mean?
    “What’s to become of us, what are we to do with our lives?”
    Your life is like the last episode of the Sopranos, Jeremy.Maybe best left without tidy resolutions. I greatly admire your ability to head off in all directions and leave a trail for us to follow. To that end, now that you are on tour, any chance you could arrange for someone to video one of your performances,or a portion, and post it with video on this great new site?

  8. MJ
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Yay! Jeremy is in (my) town! SE Michigan welcomes you, we love the chamber music here. Very nice video interview on the Detroit Free Press website too ( for you out-of-towners – look under the Entertainment tab or go here until it is updated enough to be confusing

  9. td
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    There is a ‘why’ behind every moustache (English spelling 🙂 ) I see, independent of it’s particular degree of unholiness….

  10. La Cot
    Posted June 13, 2007 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    So, in perusing your concert schedule (nothing terribly near Minnesota, alas) and seeing Grosse Pointe listed as a venue, I couldn’t help but wonder when Denk: The Movie will premiere. Naturally, it would be a musical, the numbers interspersed with bouts of contemplation…? Though I’m uncertain whether it would be sufficiently “gluawt” 🙂

    (Incidentally, and on a completely unrelated note, I was delighted to discover that we share a birthday–I made sure to practice Bach in your honor, though I was unable to also watch Charmed. Thanks for the Bach “gift” of your own 🙂

  11. Bill Brice
    Posted June 14, 2007 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Actually, I see Jeremy more as a potential talk show host — In addition, to be sure, to his writing and playing. A sort of artistic Charlie Rose — only smarter.

  12. Posted July 22, 2007 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    i’m imagining an animal planet special about the love shared between chargers 😛

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