The past picks curious times to come back and haunt you.
As I picked through boxes of old paperwork last weekend a picture fell out. There I was, back in the early Noughties, looking bedraggled as I perched on the edge of a bunk bed in a divey hotel room.
The image is black and white, which suits the grimy surroundings of the place – a fleapit hotel north of 100th Street on New York City’s Upper West Side.
At least I think it was.
I’d like to write that the picture brought me back, unlocking a store of memories from the time. But this room’s closed to me. I’ve no idea what circumstances led me to the hotel, though a shortage of money on a trip to the city was surely the cause.
Likewise this was – I think – taken on a visit during which my friend S and I played a series of open mics, but in the absence of any instruments I can’t say for sure (is that a leaning guitar case on the right hand side?)
As for my shoeless tee-shirt look, I’d most likely put that down to a late night – of which there were a few at the time. Or, more charitably, it could be the sweat of humping a backpack and a guitar case uptown on the subway. Or the absence of AC in a $50-a-night room.
It’s the sort of image that calls for a good backstory, that cries out for a New York anecdote to put Patti Smith’s Just Kids to shame. But if there was one, it’s gone.
That’s sobering. How many more days, weeks or months have I lived and lost to memory? Conversations, experiences, thoughts and emotions that will never be recalled? All pushed out by a new password or a shopping list or an email I’m writing to a colleague.
At least it looks like I had a blast, somewhere in New York, sometime in 2003.