A First Listen.
With a bouquet of newspapers in my hand and a plastic gun in my other, I sat down on the 91 late at night with a small gathering of people, a few of which I found myself becoming very close to. I expected a late-night ride home after an evening of absolutely remarkable festivities; the kind where you're tired and the only thing you want to do is get home and cook up some sort of limited-supplied concoction of food to feed your night of practically empty consumption. I expected it to be mundane and long and tedious, somewhat awkward and mildly amusing at points few and far between. But I pointed my gun at the seat next to me, and when my friend reacted to my request, he came next to me and handed me a small white headphone that connected to a machine of beautiful proportions, and out came all the sounds that this very night needed to mark it flawless.
We shared the small set of headphones and cruised the scenic route on the only bus that came that late at night and would bring us from our current whereabouts all the way to our very back yard. It rode through parts of the city that I had never seen; that most of us had not even known existed. All of us rode swiftly on the stopless bus that drove perfectly through another world, with views of the hills and all their lights surrounding us throughout, sharing our love for such perfect moments such as these where every song we listened to felt like it was the first time we'd ever heard it. And all the while we conversed with the others around us, cracking funny and witty remarks and wallowing in our pure and unfiltered enjoyment of every moment this night had brought us. But my friend and I in our little two-person seat had so much more, because in our minds there was a snow storm of sweet little white flakes careening at our massive vehicle at all directions. Pianos and mellow guitars and even a content man whistling in our lucky little ears. As that late-night bus cruised through what the city calls Hunter's Point, the worst, most dangerous area of the entire city and all the counties that surround it, I felt safer and more comfortable than I had felt in a very long time.
We had our crew, our friends, our acquired possessions; seemingly everything one could ever need to feel complete in such a situation. But in our little corner, but my friend and I had a hidden secret that only we could understand. Both of us had one ear listening to this perfect soundtrack, coming through a little piece of white workings, infamous in reputation but so rarely used so spotlessly, and it connected to an entire library of instruments and voices and personalities and stories and everything our lives had experienced and consisted of first hand that night. Although burdened slightly by my worry that I was branding the musical companion next to me with my stamp of stomped heart, I had such little room to be bothered by anything in the world that all I could do was smile. We talked although we hadn't needed to, and laughed although everything was already perfect, and viewed the world from the bus's windows which seemed to filter it into a masterpiece someone had painted secretly on the other end of the city in a homeless and drunk stupor. We took turns handing the seemingly sacred machinery back and forth, browsing the massive library of appealing names and memories and tunes, from which we played four or five for each other in secret sheer bliss that I think not the smartest or coolest or most unique of men in the world could have possibly picked better.