My friends and I at the midnight service in the grandest cathedral in the city. Glass sky above us, pipe organ behind us, choir incanting. Those Celine heels. That brocade bag. Long velvet skirt the color of wine. Wine, the symbol of blood. The thing we’re not talking about: Spilled blood.
We had been drinking but not too much. There was something, some voice, that told us not to. It wasn’t propriety or respect for religion, but a reverence for our own powers of being. A desire to stay sharp, not go soft. Mostly we were drunk on each other, and the hopefulness that hopefulness can sometimes be enough.
Drunk on each other, and I had had extra. I had stolen from the bottle when they weren’t looking, and when they were. I took her spirit wisdom, took her child wisdom, took his hopefulness that hopefulness is sometimes enough, and got high on it. I let it seduce me, the way hymns and hymnals and good hard benches and stained glass windows and incantations can do.
After the service we found the church’s supply of candles without looking for them. We passed through a flame-lit room in a fuzzed-out exit-bound meander and saw two pretty girls—12 maybe—burning long white tapers over a forest of tapers stuck into sand. He stopped first. A pause that said, This is where we go off the script. This is where we offer psalms to honeysuckle, to half moons, to eagle mothers. One of us pulled open a drawer at random and there they were, so we passed them around. One lighting a fire from the other one’s fire. Like holding hands but you’re not holding hands.
We said prayers but I don’t know what the prayers were for. Or, I do know what the prayers were for but right now I can’t talk about it.
Outside we took pictures of ourselves and each other with our telephones. In one photograph (are they still called “photographs?”) we stand in an alcove filled with moonlight and leaded glass. One of the girls evokes a sort of in-control soft rock 70s; an un-blonde Stevie Nicks in an enlightened dry spell. The other girl Nordic and confident, angular and light. Her white sweater collecting and reflecting the moon. Lobbing it softly around. He’s in chalk stripes and cashmere, recalling the European 40s and Yohji Yamamoto. Me, I am just as you see me now.
The spirit dresses up. Sunday best. The night before the night before. We are all devotional in the face of need. We are not afraid to sing loudly when the organ is piping.
We all hear the same voices.
My friends and I, affirming a sort of faith in each other. Dropping into a sort of praise of ourselves. Asking for a type of grace. Strength. Lighting fire from each other’s fire.