I was recently asked the David Byrne question “..how did I get here?” I thought about my answer later, and I’m still wondering now, if my own once in a lifetime lyrics were even believable?
Or maybe my anecdote fell on deaf ears, like friends forced to relive your recent vacation at a dinner party, picture by picture, detail by detail.
Perhaps the poor guy on the other side of the table didn’t want my unabridged story of how I came to be sitting in front of him? But it started to come spilling out with a force and will of its own: travel, restaurants, hotels, art…and the horses.
Where I am now, it really all started with the horses.
The “How did I get here?” question seemed to flatten past, present and future into one easily accessed dimension. I can still hear, I can still taste and I can still smell it all, but especially the first day: Hialeah Race Track at four in the morning, sitting on my first horse, walking to the track in the dark, Bahamians singing, Cubans conjuring winners with roosters and Santa Ria, the smoke of custom rolled cigars rolling heavy and sweet through the morning fog. Maybe it was just the patina cast by Hialeah Race Track and her pink flamingos; a patina that cloaked everything in a fairytale atmosphere and then smudged it with the fairy dust of dreamers. It’s like a memory of Oz and the Emerald City, except for it was real. The patina was really more of an exquisite decay, and I didn’t want to go home.
I guess occasionally I have wanted to yell my story from rooftops, but who would really listen in this tell-all time? So I didn’t tell the man on the other side of the table any of this, I just started to.
I started to say, “I’ve competed in the sport of Kings and Queens and got on their horses too.” The reality was more of a carny existence fed on a relentless tenacity that never allowed me to accept “no.” My grandmother would have called this “ornery.” I always thought she was paying me a compliment. I guess in the end we all hear what we want to hear, and believe what we want to believe.