I was just lying on my bed, looking up at the light green branches of the trees against the deep blue sky, listening to the birds chirping. There were two, with two different calls, and I was trying to hear whether they were doing a kind of kirtan—call and respond—or if the constant rhythm of their music just happened to fall that way: first one, then the other, then back again, like lovers.

I had been reading Patti Smith’s book Just Kids before I turned to the window, and the story of Robert Mapplethorpe coming to Scribner’s, where Patti worked, to ask her to come back to him one more time, was burning in my heart. She didn’t know then that she would become a musician—no, not a musician: who she was. She didn’t know who she was. This was thrilling, like a beautifully wrapped, unopened package under a Christmas tree.


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