You don’t need what you don’t know, but sometimes you think you do.  You don’t need to know what someone you love is doing right now without you.  You don’t need to know that maybe they’re thinking about you, or maybe not.   You don’t need to know that someone you love is thinking about you right now, but it happens.  Maybe they just woke up from a dream about you, and their eyes open, but you’re not there.  Maybe it’s you waking up from a dream.  And you are somewhere else.  Living your life…  You don’t need to know this, but sometimes you think you do, and when you know this you know you also have life in their life.  A whole life of yours going on without your awareness—your life in someone else’s mind.  And which is more real?  Your life in someone else’s mind?  Or the life of your own mind, maybe even thinking about that someone else?  And which life?  Which life do you prefer to live in?  Sometimes you notice this split even though you don’t need to notice it.  You become aware of your fractured lives living in the lives of others.  You are not just in one place at one time.  You are in many places, existing in different times.  And you are real in these places, real in these times.  You become real to someone else in their thoughts of you.  And this is felt most poignantly in someone you love, someone you once loved and that loved you, but your lives have taken different paths, and you are no longer together in a time and place, but your memories of each other make you exist with them, and they exist with you—every time you remember each other.

That’s how I know David Threnody exists for me.  Even though he is dead.  He’s been dead for over twenty years, and I never met him when he was alive.  But I’ve heard his voice.  His voice in songs.  I’ve heard his guitar, and I have pictures of him holding it, playing it.  I have the memory of when I first heard his voice—those first recordings of him made in the summer of 1945 in New Orleans.  And I’ve entered into his life, making him alive to me, even though now he is dead.  I’ve talked to people that knew him.  I have his writings—his journals.  I have other people’s writings that lived in his life.  And all this—all these things—create an image of him.  A legend larger than life.  He is real to me in my thoughts of him, in this life of his that I’ve created, and deep down I’d like to think he knows.  He knows what I’m doing.  He knows I’ve been thinking about him.  He knows he is still alive because he is alive in me.  And as I go about my life, all that he loved, all his past lovers, also live and still love him.  They are also alive because I’ve made them alive, in me.

And so maybe he didn’t need to know.  He didn’t need to know what a girl he loved was doing right now without him, as maybe he wondered about it, in those take fives when he laid his guitar to rest in those first recordings we have of David Threnody, in his wondering about maybe what Rosie Soledad was doing as he sang about her.  She was there with him in those songs.  In his fears that she had learned to love another.  Those fears that he was no longer in her thoughts, and in the hopes that maybe he was, that she still sometimes remembered their moments together, even when he wasn’t thinking about her, as he learned to love another.  And my realization of this opens up a whole other world.  A whole other world operating inside all our little worlds, the small happenings of all our daily routines in the absence of someone in our thoughts, and our world without someone is really not without them.  You are with them just as they are with you, in every passing thought that makes you remember them, that makes them remember you.  It’s how you can be sitting still, doing nothing, and yet be doing everything imaginable in other lives that you have touched.  You are in their adventures, their boredoms, and you feel everything they feel—their sorrows and their joys.  You are in the love they’ve lost and gained.  You are in everything that another will be.  How you may be dead, but you still live on in the humanity that you followed and that follows you.  And that’s how I know what I don’t need to know.  David Threnody came alive to me on the day I heard him for the first time waiting on a train at a crossroads in the American Bottom, and he still lives because now I’m writing this, this account of his life, the fiction of writing it already happened and still happening because I am thinking it.  I am thinking about him right now…