Here’s an album about getting back to your little apartment with the yellow lighting and either passing out there, or feeling just as ill-at-ease as you might have on the way home. Here, you find a couple quick recreational activities and The Question: “What if I try to go to sleep?” Apartments like this are essential. They make you an alcoholic. They make you a resin scraper. They make you clean up your act and get a girlfriend who will be sure you don’t leave dishes in the sink anymore. These apartments are the places you were before being taken up and placed into practiced domesticity. “Hermit of Bushwick” is a journey to this apartment, past the dishes, to the bathroom, to the brush and maybe the floss.
The album began at a show you didn’t play at a venue that maybe you’re playing soon. You do the casual banter with people who go to these kinds of shows; they tell you their upcoming gigs, you name some tape labels, they mention John Olson liked something they posted. You laugh, “That’s inzaaaane.” They give you that friendly “hey-o” and then you’re talking to somebody else. You’ve played with the bands before but they don’t remember. You know the guitarist is named James and you regret calling him John. You try to talk to the girl you went out with a couple times but she doesn’t like you anymore and you totally get that and say your farewells.
The streets are different than shows. In the streets, you are a slow missile, weaving by the con artists and heroin casualties, deftly avoiding cabs, pivoting beautifully onto subway steps. Your eye contact is precision; inches down and meters behind. The cackle of those who cackle on trains cannot raise your pulse. The missed connections are but eyes, ever prone to meeting.
You survive. You are in your neighborhood. You pass buildings with infrared people sleeping inside, two per quadrant, sometimes extras on couches, one late night snacker. On the sidewalk, it’s just you. Even New Yorkers sleep, if you get far enough away. Your phone is not the type of phone that gets texts this late, so you watch it for a moment. It glows happily, a crescent moon shape next to the numbers “3:22.” You pull out your keys. You have had key moments. This is one if all of them are.
Your roommates are asleep and you don’t know them very well when they are awake. You are the kind of quiet that crinkles grocery bags and cracks beers. Refrigerators are considerate entities, they make the sound of you. You don’t work tomorrow but that leaves a lot of room for indecision. You are old enough to know you will not improve with practice, though you still feel like you should. A roommate shuffles by with a grunt. “Oh, hey man,” you say, aware of your beer can. You open the door to the whole outside world and take two steps. The air is getting colder. You are as real as she was.