Author's note: I was looking through old word documents just now and found this gem in a folder that I haven't looked at in ages. This was originally an assignment that I wrote for my psychology class during my senior year of high school. (This document was dated: January 24, 2008!) From what I can remember, we were supposed to analyze characters from a movie or book and present it in any manner we choose. I can also remember that my teacher liked mine quite a lot, haha.
Though I'm sure most of you will know, I've included some direct lyrics/lines from the show in this story. The larger sections of text that I've borrowed, I've italicized.
It began on Christmas Eve with me, Mark, and my roommate, Roger. We live in an industrial loft on the corner of 11th street and Avenue B, the top floor of what was once a music publishing factory. Old rock 'n' roll posters hang on the walls. They have Roger's picture advertising gigs at CBGB's and the Pyramid Club. We have an illegal wood burning stove; its exhaust pipe crawls up to a skylight. All of our electrical appliances are plugged into one thick extension cord which snakes its way out a window. Outside, a small tent city has sprung up in the lot next to our building. Inside, we are freezing because we have no heat.
I hear a soft knock from behind me. It's Roger. "You ready? I'll be waiting by the door" I nod and put my camera to my eye.
"Smile!" I say quickly as Roger rolls his eyes. "December 27th, 1989. 7 PM, Eastern Standard Time. On Christmas Eve, I made a promise to myself to shot without a script- to see if anything becomes of it." Honestly, I don't need my scripts- suddenly; life became so much more interesting. "First shot: Roger Davis, my roommate and my best friend, stomping angrily away from me 'cause keeping him from seeing his new found love."
He turns around heatedly and I struggle to keep in a laugh. "You done yet?" he asks. I laugh again.
"Sure let's go," I say as I see a ghost of a smile appear on his face. He stepped out the sliding door and I followed, camera to eye as usual. Earlier this afternoon, we got invited to join Collins, Angel, Joanne, Maureen and Mimi for dinner at the Life Café. We've just met some of them a few days ago, but we've been getting along so well, so quickly. It's exhilarating to be part of such a lively bunch. Even with Maureen around, along with her girlfriend, I feel comfortable. In fact, her girlfriend and I have been talking a lot. She's not as bad as I assumed at all.
After a long walk in silence, we reached the café. Roger opened the door, only to be greeted by a loud exclamation and a few seconds of applause. Mimi rushed over to Roger and wrapped her thin arms around him. Close up: Mimi Marquez, a dancer from the Cat Scratch Club who took an interest in Roger the first time they even met. The two are now inseparable. She's good for him.
"Hey, man!" Collins calls me over to the smiling group sitting at the two connected tables. Angel is sitting next to him. Close up: Angel Dumott Schunard, a street percussionist who usually plays his drums in front of the loft. He and Collins have fallen in love pretty quickly and honestly, I've never seen Collins happier. Angel has been able to convince him and Roger to go to Life Support from now on- which I'm grateful for. He seems to have a way of getting people to reveal their true selves in such a short amount of time. It's intriguing.
"Ah, es el huevo sin sal," Angel says with a grin. I lay my camera on the table as I sit down across from them. Maureen and Joanne smile and wave from the other end at the same time as Roger and Mimi take their seats in the middle.
The restaurant's usual yappy waiter comes by asking for our orders and altogether everyone shots: pasta, seafood salad, french fries, wine, beer, etc. etc. I let everyone else order for me. I look over to Roger again; his hair had grown a lot since then. It's like he's hiding his thoughts from us- he's been pretty apathetic toward a lot of things lately. But I can see past whatever he is trying to hide behind. I see the bliss in his eyes as he's holding Mimi's hand. It's so hard to imagine that he'd be happy like this considering the shape he was in about six months ago. His girlfriend, April, had just died, leaving him a note saying: We've got AIDS. He decided then to stop being a junkie. After all these hardships, he needed someone like Mimi in his life. She's a lot like April, in a way- her smile especially. I suppose that's why Roger was so hesitant to be with her at first. He's just gotten used to not having that particular lifestyle. Meeting someone who reminded him of April- and inevitably reminded him of himself, the way he used to be- frightened him. He looked down on her, often yelling at her about interrupting his music composing. That was the only thing left for him- that guitar. It was the only memory of April that wouldn't harm him. Finishing at least one song would be good enough for him to call his life worthwhile. He felt Mimi was taking that away from him, leading him back into his "dark stage."
Mimi never gave up, though. She was always on her knees pleading for him to understand that her intentions were not to harm him, but to guide him. Her lifestyle reflects her occupation and character in a way- always moving, with no regret. She kept telling Roger to forget regret or he'd just miss the last of his life. But he doesn't listen. I remember telling Roger about Mimi, to not miss out on something that could be good for him. He replied coldly, "I'll live." –Right.
He told me that he and Mimi met on Christmas Eve, after Benny shut the power off. She needed a match to light her candle. I couldn't help thinking about how fitting their meeting was. The need for light, for warmth, for fire is the same as their need for one another. Roger finally gave into Mimi after Maureen's show, right here at the Life Café, after he learned that Mimi, too, was HIV positive. I guess needed to know that she was carrying baggage, too, instead of being some idiot who preached "no day but today" yet had no clue about the importance of living with no regret. I can't believe they're together now. He'll be happier from now on I know it.
The food arrives and the hungry group starts devouring their meals, along with adding chit chat on the side. I look around me again to see everyone's faces. Across from me is Angel. I notice that he was staring at the happy couple as well. He gives Mimi a wink and whispers something in Collin's ear to which he receives a laugh. It's nice to see Collins back home again, and with someone- that's even better. Angel compliments him well. He's got just the perfect amounts of honest concern, charity, and liveliness. His outfits definitely showcase his outgoing personality. We met him on Christmas when Collins brought him back to the loft. Angel came in the room, confidently, dressed in drag and displayed his amazing drumming skills. His colorful, fun outfits are like a shell of liveliness which he only shows on the outside. I'm certain that underneath all of those layers, lies a vulnerable human being. He and Mimi were best friends way before we had even met them and they share the same views on life, I believe. Angel is very outspoken and bubbly. He's very accepting of the fact that he has AIDS, much like Mimi. And like Mimi, he was able to get people to do what is good for them. Both Collins and Roger are going to Life Support now because of Angel. He really lives up to his name. He brings smiles, and leads people to doing what's best for them.
After everyone finished their meals, I can help but wonder: how did I get here? Pan left. Among all these amazing people, which of these things is not like the other? Me. Everyone seems to have found someone to make them happy. I just lost mine. Ever since Maureen and I broke up, I've been feeling even more helpless than usual. I've always felt detached, but Maureen was never like that. She was always the loud, outgoing person. She was the performer, while I'm just the filmmaker. I hide behind this camera too often. Though, I can't help it. I've always been the observer. I suppose I'm just used to the isolation of Alphabet City. Perhaps I don't want to feel like part of this life. Everyone will die soon anyway. Maybe I'm just pretending to create art but in reality, all I really want to do it remove myself from those who won't survive. Why are entire years strewn on the cutting room floor of memory when single frames from one magic night forever flicker in close up on the 3-D IMAX of my mind? That's poetic- that's pathetic. Why did Mimi knock on Roger's door? And why did Collins choose that phone booth back where Angel set up his drums? Why did Maureen's equipment break down? Why am I the witness? When I capture it on film will it mean that it's the end and I'm alone?
"Mark, baby," the familiar voice calls to me. I look up and it's Maureen holding her hand out to me. While all the others stand behind her smiling, waiting. "Ready?"
After picking up my camera, I nod, dismiss her hand and we all walk outside together. As the cold air meets my cheeks, I look up and see snow beginning to fall out of the dark sky. I put my camera to my eye, as usual and follow the group several feet away.