Winter 1987. On our way to score some coke at Max's apartment in Battery Park City, which in those days was a wasteland of construction debris with a few very tall buildings poking out. We were taking a cab, because that's how much we wanted our drugs immediately. This is when drugs were still fun, and the look on my face is one of impending satisfaction. This is when Max still lived at Battery Park.
Max was going to be a millionaire very soon. He had a company that made 3D animations, so most of the time while we were doing coke off a glass table through the hollow barrel of a ballpoint pen, we were watching a loop on the TV of an animated red ball bouncing against a black and white checkerboard floor, shiny and shadowed like life, but so unreal. Max also owned some footage of Jim Morrison taken a few weeks before his death where he's walking by the side of a rural road and muttering for something like six hours. Between the two of these assets, Max was going to be very rich, so rich that he was going to have his office in the top of the Chrysler Building, unless he decided to move the business to St. Croix.
I wanted Max to be real, in the same way that I wanted myself to be real, I wanted to have an identity that was always me, not to be shifting and changing and ruined before it began. I wanted to know what I was capable of and what I wasn't. I wanted to know it for sure, so I could stop testing. Every night new things were possible, new betrayals of faith; every day I spent looking for the monsters that had melted back under the beds, knowing they'd be out again when the sun fell, as did crumbs of coke sometimes, so it wouldn't hurt to get down on your hands and knees on the parquet floor and see if there's anything there.
I remember Max passing off fake twenties at El Sombrero, one of the few places on the Lower East Side that's hung on to this day; he was entertaining a group of Europeans who ignored me for the whole meal, then demanded of me when the check came, "Where can we go dancing?" It was 1 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. I didn't pass the test. I should have suggested Save the Robots, which was probably jumping at one on a Sunday. I want to go back and tell them, all these men in boxy suits, women who've only gotten taller in my mind as years go by: I finally know where to go.