The Moon

•June 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

You asked me for a story about the moon, and I’ll be damned if the first thing I thought of wasn’t you. I’d like to think that that isn’t always true, but a full lifetime ago, when I was sorting through the shards of the story of us, it was the one place I finally found to hide you. So I could put the whole damn thing somewhere far away until I was ready to look at it again. So that maybe someday I could point to something beautiful and tell you that, that’s where I kept our story safe. That’s where I took the tale of us until I could put myself back together again without it. Until I could smile when I wondered if you were wondering about me while looking at it. Or wish on it when I wondered if you could still hear me somehow, a half a world and a full lifetime, away. Somewhere in the sky to look to remember that some part of us is forever, and maybe it’s just a story we made but maybe that means more than any of us know how to admit.
Stories are all any of us really are. A thickening plot in motion. Blindly bumping into beauty and defeat in unequal shares. It was my youth that belittled it as something that lacked meaning without continuation, that believed it had to be my future to matter. The years have helped me gain perspective. Helped me see that the past doesn’t stop being beautiful when it’s not the present. That life is more like a photo album, and less like a movie. Inside my gallery there hang some of the most beautiful pictures of the simplest days, and I’m nothing if not proud when I happen to find your face. Because the simple truth, between me you and the moon, is that there was never a smile I believed in more than the one painted on you. Whether that was just youth or not doesn’t really seem to matter much in the face of it being true.
These days I still look to the moon when I want to remember you and it’s nice to still have a light in the night to remind me too. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t keep a couple pieces up there just for you. In case you ever happened to look to the same place for a little truth. If there’s any magic in the world at all, then you’ve at least once stumbled your way into one of those leftover lunar gallery halls and seen yourself in a painted memory on the wall. I hope you come to see it like I do. Proof that beautiful things don’t end, they just are. That even though we’re more than what we did then, two dumb teenagers can still write one hell of a love story.
So, tonight, and I don’t doubt throughout my life, I will raise this half emptied wine to you and the moon. For the years it kept our story safe for me, and the decades it has and will spend hearing the shit I can’t by any right type up and send to you. For what it’s worth, I’m proud of you. And for all it matters now, I still believe in you. Maybe you were the best I’ll ever get or maybe I just haven’t found better yet, but either way, I’m thankful for the time we spent painting passionate portraits of those simple days. Pictures worth hanging on the moon. A story so powerful, it couldn’t end any happier way and still be true.

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An Apartment Democracy on Eggshells

•May 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Kept separate for too long we came together one night for all the old reasons. As if nothing had changed. As if we hadn’t spent the past years tapdancing across eggshells. If we had thought about what we were doing it’s hard to say we would have been that brave.

It started quiet. We filed in one by one, slow enough that no one noticed that everyone had been invited and just quick enough that no one thought twice about it. Before long we were all talking. Like the old days. No politics, just big dreams and small days. Funny stories and stupid jokes.

For a few golden hours, in the hot basement of a pile of crumbling bricks we drank, passed tea, and sang songs only half of us really knew the words to. Like believers in a dream of a community. Like, at least for a moment, we all believed variety builds a better world, and that our differences are like the harmony that comes together to make something better, something stronger than the parts.

When we went our separate ways no one said a word about it. Maybe out of fear it would break it, maybe nobody else noticed. I guess i’d like it to be the latter, in the end. We didn’t all have to agree on why we came, why we had a good time, why it was valuable, just that we wanted to get to know someone else. Acknowledge that we share this ride with billions of other people, a lot like us, who see it all a little differently. And maybe sometimes, we could use to see things differently.

Even if it’s just a sunset, or a song, some of the best moments of my life involved seeing something familiar for the first time all over again. It’s part of the magic of being a communal creature. Being taught something. Piggybacking, for just a second, on someone else’s hard earned vision of truth. Standing atop decades of experience impossible for me to share with no other effort than to listen. To not be scared.

It’s not easy. But kept separate for too long we’ll always find cause to come back together. We are all made from the same things: dirt, stardust, God, or computer code, to whatever or whomever we owe this fleeting gift I think we’re most reticent to squander this knowledge.

We all face the same puzzle, but we all find different pieces along the way. We all see different parts of the puzzle from different angles. Our only hope is to share solutions and trade pieces. But as fast as we all move, or try to, differences represent hurdles. Stoppage. Moments we don’t have. It takes times to understand things that we’re not. 

Occasionally, though, we find ourselves next to one another, apartments, neighborhoods, lines, community events. Even more occasionally we see each other for what we are: a fellow puzzler, a fellow person, another life. Seeking solutions. Running hurdles. Chasing down dreams of differing perspective. 

When we find one another, for even a brief moment, maybe it’s better we don’t notice. Maybe it’s better if we file in quietly, be honest about what we believe and just be willing to learn. Hurdles are challenging, but a person is just a circus mirror. A reflection of ourselves under other circumstances, and maybe we would have liked to have done things differently, but these are the circumstances upon which our world’s met. 

In basements, apartments, football stadiums, and more, or less, stately places, we see each other as enemy or fellow soldier interchangeably. But what we are is a community. Standing together, whether we like it or not. Bound together by geography, an inherited dream, and an inherent truth: that all people are created equal, and all have the right, the privledge, and the burden of a perspective to share and hear.

The Knots

•March 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

​There’s probably not a day goes by I don’t think of her. Ever since I met her. That’s almost 20 years ago now. It’s crazy how short they seem when you look back. God, and how long they all felt as they passed. I might have even believed you then that I’d still find knots in my stomach when she finds my mind all these years down. I’ve always been a romantic.

After she was gone, hell maybe even before, I got scared of those stomach-knots. We were still close, but we’d been growing apart. I wasn’t calling my crush anymore, not just the cutest girl in the school, I was calling my girlfriend. And well maybe we fell for each other trying to find one another. Three years later and we still loved the living shit out of one another, but not what we’d become after all that time we spent searching for how to make that love work.  

That first year after we split up I barely ate. The knots were constant. As if her memory had cracked the record of my mind and it kept skipping back to her and back to her and back to her. Every single thing I saw was a reminder of her. Over time I learned to just turn the record off when it started skipping. 

Still, there were those knots when she found her way to my brain. They started to remind me of loneliness. That ache I used to feel when I couldn’t manage to get close enough to her turned into a missing place in my chest, like an open wound. The pain was the same, but I was so sure I had been broken I couldn’t make the connection. Something in me had to believe that there’s a price to pay for losing ‘the one’.

Over the years I’ve stopped believing in ‘the one’, but I never stopped believing in her. We talk from time to time. She’s married and they’ve had a child. I’ve never shaken the knots when she comes to mind, but I’m starting to smile when I have them again. 

It only occurred to me on my drive to the office the other day that the knots were always there, it was something about me that changed. The way I saw the things I already had. I couldn’t appreciate something so beautiful if it was gone. O convinced myself that the absence hurt more than ignorance and started cursing the day I fell for her. It’s selfish and self-defeating, but if it helps, I don’t think I knew that’s what I was doing. Not really.

I turned all that light and hope I saw with her into darkness and loss after she was gone. As if the light had come and gone with her. Instead of the truth, which was that she had been the first to have managed to get through to me that there had been light all around me the whole time, I just had to open my eyes. (I may or may not have completely ignored the message at the time (I did)).

That hurt mixed up the chapters of our story. Until those stories that made me feel like I was part of something bigger than me only reminded me that I once felt like I was a part of something bigger than me. It made the beauty I had found into the beauty that had passed me by. The line is thin, but the divide is vast. 

See, I was in love. I ached with it for years. No poetic hyperbole. I’ve loved that girl so much it physically ached for about 20 years. I’ve been in and out of relationships since, and even before, and I’d say I loved since and possibly before, but she was different. And if you’re with me up until this point you’ll understand why that makes it okay we’re not together.

It’s something we probably shouldn’t have run into so young, or ran with quite so far maybe. We did, though, and we screwed it up like the fucked up kids we were. It’ll never work again, but I’ll be damned if I don’t love the shit out of that girl. I hope I find it again. Knots and all. I have to believe I will, but, it turns out, I’m just now learning to count myself lucky I found it the first place. Pain and all.

Some part of me kind of wishes we had just been friends. So we wouldn’t have to have all this baggage about talking again. Maybe we were really just some kind of double-edged lucky that we ever found our way out of the friend zone, but maybe all good blessings come with curses. Maybe karma comes quick and we got a little too lucky for our age. 

Either way, I’m here to settle the story once and for all. I know love. The kind they don’t talk about in the movies. The kind that survives barely knowing one another and a thousand miles of distance. Tempered in the fires of loss, regret, bitterness, it is something similar to family, and occasionally maybe something deeper.

Prairie Dogging

•January 10, 2018 • 2 Comments

Tonight is one of those nights when I manage to get constructively angry at myself. A rare treat, of a fashion. It’s nice to finally see fucks budding out there in the field, but at the same time I know, somewhere in my head, another frost is coming before those fruit. It’s damn nice to feel like I actually see myself for a change, though. Sure, it’s not a pretty picture in every aspect, but it’s not just confusion. Bewilderment. That stupid top spinning out of control from the depression commercial in the 90’s.

I think I’m finally over being pissed at love again. It’s almost like I’ve built into my psyche a cooling off period between relationships. The desire has always been there in the animalistic way, but I’m too old for that shit, so I can ignore that. These days I’m actually starting to feel the desire to share with someone. To really get to know someone again. I forgave Joy petty quickly after the whole thing blew up,  forgave myself petty quickly thereafter, maybe even before. But, I think I was working on forgiving fate, honestly.

It’s stupid, but I’ve really felt shit on by love, and I’ve been a vocal believer all my life. An evangelist for it, even. Check the records, they’re literally here. Back to my freshman year of college. I kept believing it was all just teaching me to love that mythical “one” that much better. That much more. Maybe it’s old age, maybe it’s cynicism, maybe just experience, maybe they’re all kind of the same thing… but I’m starting to think maybe it’s just not magic after all. 

Maybe it’s just two people, bringing their own specific brand of messed up together and trying to raise a couple kids, before they all kill one another. Maybe my dreams are just dreams and we’re not somehow connected across space and time over the silly shit we shared. My last little Santa Claus. It’s times like these I envy the religious. At least there’d be that magic to look forward to. Even if you’ve gotta die for it.

A clear, if not cynical head, today means I’m coming out of it. The pitch, as it were. I used to call it a well, but either way, I’m poking my head up. ‘Prairie dogging’, my Dad would say. Fully aware of the connotation. It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll make it to the surface completely, but I’ll be damned if fresh air doesn’t feel good. Even the metaphorical kind.  Something like poking your head out after a natural disaster; the destruction is terrible and overwhelming, but you’re alive, and that suddenly feels like a gift again. Even if just for a day or two. You just can’t pay for that feeling. That appreciation. You have to earn it. 

Tending My Field of F*cks

•December 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I went to the roof to settle into silence for a while. What little silence the city offers. A half filled sack of wine I extracted from its boxy prison in tow. Some tea, and a head full of pitch. Inky and sticky like tar, it had been clouding my mind since… Well, i’d like to say since the beginning of the year, but the truth is probably further out than that.

Something in me still thinks answers can occasionally appear on empty rooftops to wine soaked depressives. After all those times coming up empty and aching in the morning, you’d think I would put less stock in it. There’s something to be said for a man out of options, though. There’s comfort in the familiar, even if it’s otherwise fruitless, comfort’s got to count for something. 

There was a time when I’d take an acoustic guitar to task trying to find the right words to rhyme, but now even that feels disingenuous. Beyond my capacity for hope. As soon as I convince myself I don’t sound that bad my muse has run out on me. Instead of waiting on the other half of a melody no one would likely hear anyway, I settled for this cynical silence of what has become my 30’s. Oddly apropos to why I worry I’m out here.

What if I have really given up? Nothing so dramatic as taking a header, but the more subtle, quieter death of settling for silence. Convincing myself that I’m happier with that. That the noise only ever led to clutter and where did all that wind up? Here. Spending enough time on rooftops to legally be considered batman. Still mixing my wine with tea like i’m twenty seven. 

I’m paying my bills, for the most part. I’m going to work on time. Early most days. I’m running for multiple miles every other day. Eating food that is better for me. Still this tarry pitch gumming up my head. Descending further and further down. Breaking promises and burning bridges as it spreads. It feels like every day I believe a little less that it’s going to get any better. I lose a little more faith that this has all been learning to appreciate the best parts, and more sure they’ve passed me by. While I was anxiously trying to find where I fit in.

It’s enough to force a scream into my throat. Like everything else it gets caught in the tar too and comes up as only indigestion with a burp which only makes me more angry. Angrier? Oh fuck it. That sack of wine is empty enough to need a brick to keep unseasonably warm winter wind from whipping it from the roof and I’ve absorbed enough of it to poison the field in which I grow my fucks to give.

I read something the other day, a writing exercise, that you should imagine at the end of your life you’re plopped down into a movie theater. In that movie theater are at least 20 different versions of you. Each one watching the next play out their life in different ways. What do you think they’d say to you about your go? What about watching the next one go? Would you even want to? Think about it. I have been. Or don’t, I guess, my field of fucks is barren.

Mausoleum of Giants

•November 16, 2017 • 1 Comment

In the earliest parts of morning, the latest corner of night, I watched from my window while fog covered the city. Until, one by one, the tips of the buildings disappeared beneath the clouds. Heavy with the weight of fall, the fog made the city into a mausoleum of giants. Stoic and mournful. A place for remembering. 

I raised a decorative coffee cup, half filled with boxed wine, to the memories of mine buried somewhere beneath those clouds. Chuckled a little at the pleasure of having mostly forgotten the mistakes, and took a couple sips for all the bruisingly good ones. Funny how the great ones ache the most. And God, there were some good ones.

I had the window cracked to let some heat off the radiator and i’d catch occasional breezes stuffed with memory as I drank. Lifetime after lifetime. All of them with nights like these. It should probably show me that I’ve always struggled to make tomorrow’s nostalgia, but it doesnt. It just doesnt. I still see some foolish kid, taking time for granted, and begging it to pass more quickly.

But now I’m as grown as I ever wanted to be and still staring out windows too long. Still seeking something, as yet unnamed, but feels like home, looks like love, and melts the days a little less freely than whatever it is that I’ve got now. Still pondering this mausoleum of giants, wondering where I fit these days. 

Maybe that’s secretly what has been meant for me all along. To map the graveyards of memory, to survey sentiment and finally make some sense of it. It’s why suicide never really offered any real comfort for me. What if I miss when all that suffering actually makes sense? I know it’s an outside chance, but that’s definitely something I can’t choose to miss. Dark reasons can still be good reasons, right?

I’ve been writing a lot lately. Not on here, obviously. I guess I feel like I don’t really have the power to say anything here lately. This thing has vacillated between being a journal to being my own personal marquee. I recognize that neither of those things is actually true of it, but that’s sort of led me to where I am now. Clueless on how to proceed.
Sometimes I wish I still had that passion for writing in my thirties as I had in my early twenties, where the simplest things would just snowball into these long diatribes that just cut to the very core of what I was struggling to explain. So many dorm room nights fueled by cheap wine and cigarettes were poured into this thing that it’s gotten to be a little intimidating to me.

I’ve told myself a few times that If I die an untimely death, this is how people will remember me. This is where they’d come to remember what I felt like I had to explain to the world. If someone cared to, they could go through the majority of my existential crises  by paging through this thing. Sometimes I do. Maybe that’s my mistake. Look forward more. Back less. I should get that tattooed under my eyelids. 

I’ve been writing a lot lately, but it’s mostly “I’m really 30 now, what the fuck do I do now?” The consensus answer at this stage seems to be that i have no idea. I spent most of my life imagining a different future would somehow swoop in and sweep me up. But here I am. Same old city with a better view. Same great friends with way less time. Same fears plus some new ones I picked up along the way. 

When I moved into this artist’s colony i thought for sure it would spur my writing, push me to engage with moving people, but instead I’ve only retreated further. A lot has changed since that dream, though. Forward more. Back less. 

So, constant reader. I may please you in the coming months with increased material, but rest assured it will likely be something like this.

It still feels good to write. I feel less resolution than ever these days, though. I used to love to find the bow at the end of a good rant, the way to tie it all back together. There was no better feeling to me in the whole wide world. Fitting into a groove while playing an instrument, maybe. Tie ballgame, probably. I don’t feel like I’m helping others nearly as much as I used to, but I never really started anything with that intent. It was only towards the end of the rant that i felt the need to find some light at the end of the tunnel.

To the constant reader i both humbly apologize and gratefully congratulate. It’s been a long weird ride, and I’ve not been stellar at making your visits worth it. I hope you know I’ve tried. Probably too hard. I think I’m going to try it the other way for a while. Maybe it’s going back to my roots, maybe it’s letting my gaurd/expectations down, but what ever it is: expect more material. Feel free not to care. 

On Love, At 33

•August 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment

When I was young the world was smaller. There was room for things like Fate. Destiny. Star-crossed lovers. This… ‘grand scheme’. The funny feeling I got in my stomach when I kissed Lindsey in 7th grade was the first sparks of a love for the ages. Not pre-teen fear mixed with poor diet choices and/or a healthy dose of adrenaline. This was love. Until it was Diane. She and I were the will they/won’t they couple for probably a month. She turned me down at first. It was going to make an incredible story to ceaselessly tell around cards at an old folks home together. Until it became the story of how I met the next ‘the one’, and the next. I wasn’t prolific, I was just … well, bad at it?

I used to think I was codependent, and I guess it’s probably true, but I could just never find a comfortable cruising speed, you know? Falling in love is so fast and exciting, and you hold on so tight to each other. Then bit by bit you have to let the other live their own life, handle their own shit. Inevitably I always wanted to do that too soon or too late. Too much or too little. I suppose probably everyone struggles with it. To relinquish as much control as we want to have. To give out as much slack in the rope as we’d like for ourselves. It’s easy to say, but tough to really appreciate. We’re only human. All of us. Slaves to our perception, bias, and preconceived notions. Bound most often to do only that which we’re in the mood for; big sloppy sacks of emotion.

When I let go of the last I one I told myself I was done. It wasn’t worth the hassle for people who were never sure. I was, maybe still am, tired of letting someone else put so many bricks into the foundation upon which my peace of mind stands. Heart break always wrecks me. Thoroughly. I’m almost always the last one to admit when the whole thing has died. Which, I’ve learned, instead of fixing things tends to only drag them out. You can only stretch something so far before it gets so thin you can start to see right through it. I’d fight and fight, thinking I was fighting for us, like some valiant soldier for love. When, really, we were just fighting. It didn’t so much matter why, right? Time
doesn’t really remember reasons quite so well as it remembers events.

It’s some kind of cruel irony how clearly you see your own mistakes while watching your friends make them. Knowing full well that they were once the ones sitting through the same rants about fairness and common decency as it relates to relationships in modern society. It’s especially cruel when you’ve got multiple friends on multiple sides of fences you’ve found yourself occupying, with less kids, no ring, and still the same dumbfounded question coming out of all of our mouths:”why?” I’ve accrued enough friendly ex’s to know that there’s never a real answer to that. Hell, I’ve been on enough sides of that aforementioned fence to see it for myself.

Maybe we’re not meant to do this, or maybe it’s just not for some of us, or maybe it really does have to be just the right fit. Maybe it was so damn rare and wonderful they thought up pretty proper nouns for it like Fate, or Destiny, or Love. Or maybe we’re expecting too much. Maybe love isn’t so complicated as we make it. What if by romancing it for so many generations we’ve made it too pretty? Too many of us look to our partners to help us find peace, when we have none to offer them. We look to them to help us define ourselves then get frustrated when the answers don’t satisfy us. We grow accustomed, then numb to the good things, and the bar for what we’re willing to take out on one another slides down another inch. We spend half our time thinking up what the other should or shouldn’t do and the other half frustrated when they do something completely unexpected.

That’s the real rub of the matter, isn’t it? We’re all blindfolded for the majority of this “life” thing. That’s frightening enough. But to realize that, not only are there billions of other folks trying to do the same thing, groping, falling, and stumbling around, but that whomever you pin your future on is going through the same shit, different shit, and shit you’ve never heard of. Just trying to find their way through their own version of this journey. It does make it sort of mystical when you step back and think about how much shit has to go right for it to actually work. Then again, it also makes it seem pretty damn hopeless too.

So, how do I inject some kind of hope into this garbage fire of a birthday post? I’m 33 today, and as ‘not according to plan’ as all of this has gone, I still know I’m lucky. I’ve been in love. Hard. For a few really good years. God, the beauty I’ve held. Heartache could never hope to darken all of that. I’ve got some really amazing friends and family. A pretty great job. A place downtown with a view of the skyline. Do I have every dream I wanted? No. But maybe we’re lucky to settle for the ones we discovered along the way. Maybe plans are for just for the boring, and the lucky, the rest of us build on what we break.

As for the whole love thing, I guess we all just do our best with that too. Maybe it’s a roll of the dice, or maybe there’s some diaper wearing cherub loosing arrows, but believe me when I say it’s work no matter what. If you do it even halfway right you’ll, at the very least, learn a lot about life, the world, and what it really means to wear someone else’s shoes. Remember, though, that we’re all making up mistakes as we go along, while blindly trying to do the same basic things. We should be better at forgiving, and maybe better at forgetting too, but we’re not. None of us are. We’re big sloppy bags of emotion, tumbling into a minefield with varying degrees of baggage, experience, and trust. Give as much slack as you can see yourself someday needing, and don’t give up easy. But if it all comes tumbling down, remember, you’re just as much the love that was as you are the love that fell apart. And moving on doesn’t always mean forgetting, I still carry Lindsey, Diane, and the rest, somewhere in my heart, and no matter how many others do too, it’ll never make me any less blessed for the memories we made.