Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sixteen Below

He tells me of the first time he met Allen Ginsberg. He was a young man, an independent reporter from New York come to Boulder Co. to interview Ginsberg about a planned act of civil disobedience. There was a factory there where the triggers for the Atom bomb were being manufactured. Ginsberg planned to sit on the railroad tracks thus preventing the train from reaching the factory.

My friend follows Ginsberg into a house, his mind racing with thoughts about the other man's homosexuality, asking himself if he could really say no if Ginsberg wanted to have sex. The first thing he sees upon entering the house is a woman giving a man a blow job.
Ginsberg is oblivious. It takes him a moment to realize that something is going on. When he does, he merely says, “Oh, lets go upstairs.”
Upstairs my friend sits on Ginsberg's bed beside him. His heart is pounding. In addition to concerns over sexuality, his mind is embroiled in the matter of the first question and what his peers at the radio station back in New York will think.

“Mr. Ginsberg,” my friend begins.
“Call me Allen.”
“How do you reject nuclear madness?” my friend blurts the question out spasmodically.
“I don’t reject anything.” Ginsberg tells him. “I’ve come here to make love to plutonium, to sit on the railroad tracks and be connected to it, to be connected to everything.”
Ginsberg suggest that they do some free associative poetry spinning. Gazing out the window at an empty curbside he lays the moment on my friend. All of this, along with the rest of the conversation, changes my friend's life.

He tells me this, and he tells me that he has never told the story in quite this way to anyone before. He has mentioned interviewing Ginsberg, he has mentioned having the recording in a box somewhere.
He has never had this moment before. This moment is new, unique to us, we two who are reflections of one another, who create with words our identities from the fabric of fear, the fear of being.
We sit in silence and look into one another's eyes, dissolving for a moment our creation, our creation of the world and the other to inhabit it, the other to speak to, the other to wonder at, the other to fear and to love.

We don’t know why this is possible, this silence between us. It allows my friend to tell me his story in this particular way for the first time and the only time.
We could try to recreate it, but it will never be the same. We will never be the same two people on the same day in the same place, daring to press against the veil of fear. Daring to speak and be heard. Daring to listen and accept everything.

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