Recently, I went to London. This is the second part in a series about that trip.
Was I the Only Lonely Person in London?
The woods aren’t a thing in London, they’re American. The darkness behind trees and empty ponds and clearings: this is where loneliness comes from. It’s where the work of our most American writers, Emerson and Whitman, rises and grows. How can someone feel lonely without those big woods – empty of people, passed over, sometimes, by planes but still otherwise?
It’s such an American thing to be lonely. Even in the middle of London, I felt the tug of it, like a long sigh in my heart. I traveled there alone, so maybe I’d doomed myself to that feeling. On the Tube alone, walking around Soho alone, eating alone in the apartment I’d rented: in my bedroom while the living room, kitchen, second bedroom were empty. I had five shoots in six days, so I couldn’t fuck anyone, I couldn’t go out to drink, I didn’t know if it would be good for me to meet anybody.
I’d arrive at and leave the shoots alone.
I felt loneliness, but all around me, I couldn’t identify that feeling in anyone else.
People were anxious, or tired, or glum, even. But lonely?
In my favorite British pop music, no one sounds lonely. Even Daman Albarn’s gravelly perseverance – at his lowest, when he’s pushing himself to get through a song – sounds somehow clever. Morrissey sounds almost chipper about his sadness. He simply knows too much about sorrow to be lonely in it. London seems too smart for loneliness.
You could never have a country song there, no matter how hard you tried.
A friend later explained this to me, “But to Londoners, Johnny Cash sounds clever.” I nodded but couldn’t believe it. Johnny cash was smart maybe, but too pained to be clever.
In London, sadness seemed to me to be something someone hovered above. In America, loneliness grew out of it like a black vine.
I got in a cab to meet Dillon Buck. If you don’t know him, look him up, you both deserve it. I have this mental list of porn stars with whom I’ve always want to work. Some of them are in America and I’m working on it. Some of them are dead so it will never happen. Others seem inaccessible, impossible, because they live in other countries. Dillon was one of them. Smiling, handsome, scruffy, and so far away.
But I was in a cab to meet him and have sex with him for hours.
I got in the black taxi and the driver seemed too clueless to have a feeling. The backs of black cabs are so big and open, you could have a party (or record music – there’s a series of videos where musicians perform in the backs of black cabs). I sat in the big open space and said the address, which was off of Brayburne.
“Brayburne, that’s a road, is it?” The cabbie asked.
I felt lost and looked everything up on the map on my phone and we drove towards the shoot. What was I doing in London, meeting someone on a list of unattainable men? What was I doing here alone, where I couldn’t drink or fuck or eat to find comfort?
We turned the corner and the street was blocked off. On the road was an overturned motorbike, with smashed glass around it and chunks of metal lying without a care on the curb. There was a person laying by it, turned a way he shouldn’t be turned, arms and legs in the wrong directions. A police officer waved the cars away with a look on his face that could not have been cold or merely purposeful. He was holding that pain in and it was contorting his features. Go away, go away, someone is hurt here, don’t look.
So there was grief, in the middle of the road, and who has time for loneliness when your whole city is holding grief in, together?
The cab moved slowly until the wreck disappeared with its metal and plastic and bone behind a corner.
I got to the set and the accident, still in my memory, managed to slip behind some corner of my mind too: Dillon was there with a smile on his face. His smile is so big that you can’t help but relax into it. A friend. And it was his birthday.
We kissed and we fucked and you know the rest. You can see the scene soon, up at ButchDixon.com – There’s a photo set there now, and the images will do it better justice than my writing. I’ve added two below.
After our shoot, we had a cake. Dillon blew out the candles. I made a wish on top of his. We kissed again. We had dinner. I had a friend, and London felt warmer.