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Black Ocean Breaking White Below PCH / Late Night Driving

from My Life's Work by Ben Seretan

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Think about how you receive love each day. Is there someone in your life that reliably and gently touches you on the shoulder as they pass you in a narrow kitchen, expressing some kind of deeply internalized care for your comfort and well-being? Is there someone you say a full-throated and intentional good morning to on a regular basis? Is there someone in your orbit who would notice if your body changed in some way? Its shape (you've been working out), its color (did you get some sun), the appearance of an errant ingrown hair (for the real freaks: can I pop it)? Is there someone who would notice a fever coming off of your skin before you even felt warm? Is there someone you feel comfortable sitting in near-silence with, someone you don't feel the constant need to impress? Is there someone who, when something you encounter as you go about your day, pops into your head in association makes you smile like a lunatic about nothing? Is there someone you're excited to introduce to and incorporate into your relationship with others? Think, instead, if you are receiving a facsimile of love - - an image of it. Does the Internet make your heart swell, and do you value that more than what's really happening moment to moment? Do you measure the amount of love you feel each day, attempting to quantify it, weighing it like a bag of saffron on an unforgivingly precise scale at a health food store? Do you receive love without offering it in return? Do you refuse to close the loop? Do you owe an unpaid debt of affection and care? Are you selfish, with a need to make up lost ground? Does someone know you? Really? Have you ever allowed someone the pleasure? I am being sarcastic. And think about how you refuse love each day. Is there someone you turn a shoulder to for baffling and largely inexplicable reasons? Are there messages you choose not to respond to, ovations made toward you that pretend do not exist? Do you refuse yourself your own best treatment, taking self-destructive actions despite obviously knowing better? Do you make obvious cries for help that you laugh off when they are responded to earnestly? And think about how you experience anger each day. Is it often the first thing on your mind in the morning, a running ticker tape of those who have wronged you? Do you feel the warm muscular tug of it somewhere behind your ears, an ancient engine whirring and struggling and burning oil? Does it impel you forward, motivating you to live your life in the service of some unrelenting and un-promised revenge? That, truly, you know will never be yours, at least not in the way you fantasize about? Is it, at this very moment, churning in the lower depths of your stomach, making bubbles in the acid, taking the sweetness out of sweet things? . . . . I realized with a start this week that Monday marked the one year anniversary since - what? - "it all went to shit" "everything fell apart" "a great season of change descended upon me" "my Saturn returned" ... an extremely unfair and shitty work situation full of disappointment and betrayal followed in close succession by the very unhappy end of a very unhappy relationship, the loss of a fucked up but nevertheless lovely apartment (only in NYC), the worst illness of my adult life (only liquids for days, my tonsils in a full body embrace with each other), etc! etc! It all kind of came unglued, starting with an opportunity that was presented, accepted, then callously denied one year ago. A year is a long time. Four whole seasons, many trips to the Rockaways, many pictures of my baby niece, many shows, many band practices, many treadmill sessions, many uses of my MoviePass, a healthy and exciting if unfortunately timed relationship, a new job (a much better one than the one that was so cruelly ripped away one year ago, like blowing out a lost walker's last match in a pitch black cave) . . . I recall camping in a dewy meadow after dancing until the last shuttle bus at a music festival, I recall many still mornings quietly playing piano in my current living room - - look, I mean, I dug myself out (with support from others!). But these are the questions I'm still asking myself.

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from My Life's Work, released August 30, 2018

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Ben Seretan Troy, New York

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