Thursday, October 14, 2010
I stand in a dimly lit room alive with the sound of gentle murmuring from a few dozen men. They are all dressed in a similar way. Dark shirts and jeans, black shoes and thin dark jackets. They all have dark, dirty hair that has been styled by the salt-drenched wind, left wild and crusted with the taste of tears.
The room is crowded, already filled beyond the capacity of the short walls and uneven floor and more men enter every few minutes having paid the entry fee at the door. They enter through an open doorway off to one side of the room, a man stands just outside the doorway collecting money in a wide coffee can.
Beyond the doorway the night is dark. A wide, flat parking lot sits empty, the black tar and white lines of demarcation are illuminated by a lone double-bulbed lamp that towers thirty feet in the air. The lot looks forlorn in the yellow light, missing cars, people and trash.
The small single-storied room packed with men is attached to a larger structure, having been built at the same time decades before. Through the wide rectangular window facing the parking lot, I can see the larger structure since the entire building is shaped like an L. The surface of the larger structure is covered in corrugated metal, though the small room where I stand seems like an afterthought, a janitor’s closet that has been forgotten, appropriated by a handful of young men in the dark night. The windows of the larger building are dark and I know that we are the only ones here.
I look around and realize I am the only woman in the tightly packed room. There are young men sitting on the floor, others leaning against the wall in silent pensiveness. Others have merged into small huddles talking quietly, filling the air with a gentle murmur of anticipation.
While most of the men sit or stand, there are five among the dozens that move, setting up their musical equipment against one of the walls. At their feet are several amps, half a dozen microphone stands and a crate of miscellaneous cords. There are other hard black cases on the worn blue rug waiting to be opened, waiting for electricity and skilled hands that know all the right knobs and switches to make them come alive.
I look at the various men leaning against one of the walls and see a familiar face. Pale white skin and a long dark beard, his eyes look around the crowd observing it all in interested delight. I know that in this crowded space, among this many men, there will not be any place for me to hide.