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Pulp

We had this idea of us, as two writers finding one another within a single page. But that’s all it could be, a single page, not a book or a binding between us. That’s where we weren’t seeing eye to eye. Despite the lesson that life had wrought upon me, I still believed in forever. I still thought that, despite the silly game of words between lines and penmanship scandals, that we could be something grand. And you encouraged it. But that’s not to place blame, it’s what I wanted. It’s what you needed and what I wanted. Or possibly what you wanted and what I needed. But then when things culminated in what can only be described as the final chapter, we found that aura was all we had. I could always see your aura. And, when locked in a small room by myself, it’s still visible. Your aura haunts me by being imprinted upon mine.

The faint outline of that grand idea, the whole inscribed on a single page, is with me for years afterward. And at times I find myself pining for those more specific moments, daydreams of a person that isn’t me but feels like me. And he feels like a bit of you. If it came to a brighter light, one might assume that I wasn’t over the story. That I was pining, or still wishing. But it’s just story, it’s just writing, that’s all we ever were. Words have power, and between us they had spark, but they didn’t have a future. At the time we felt that future was useless and that youth made us infinite. There was escape within one another’s grammar, there was respite in arms and articulation. So when I return to it, I think it’s out of hope. It’s the belief that the grand design and the larger story isn’t finished with me. I know there’s adventure but it’s a different genre entirely. You don’t always feel like a mystery, but when you do, nothing else will suffice. The mystery of us has no counterpart in the libraries, because again they reserve that space for the tales that took ages. And ours, a wisp on the wind spread out in stolen moments of a decade, didn’t amount to much. I think back on the night, inserting memories and forgetting the real shame of the dark and reflective hours. Reflective for reasons both literal and figurative. I woke up that night and looked over, thinking to myself that I was happy. Now looking back I see that I was half finished. I could have jumped headfirst, but so many great things have sprouted from my decision to simply believe i’d already won. So when I look back it can’t be with regret, although there’s a page in a notebook somewhere that could have been true. And that’s what I miss the most. Those pages.

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The Big Bang

I don’t pine for twenty years ago, I pine for seven. To a greater extent, eleven. I yearn for the connection that had seemed to be fated, to be destiny, between a rotating cast of 5 to 10 characters that muddled the years between then and now with dalliances, glories and mistakes. I see the pictures, the beautiful and awkward design of us all. There’s no way that it seemed natural to any outside observer. We were so motley, so varied in our approaches to life and our self identities that it would have seemed to be a ticking time bomb. To be fair, eventually it all did explode, but the shrapnel that remains has this radiant glow that I find myself drawn to like a moth. I mean, that’s why I keep coming back here isn’t it?

For me, it all started in Spanish. These were the days that I spent floating between this preconceived notion of what the world was and what it would become. I had been carefully guarded from harsh realities by my family and my father. When I was young there was this subject we never talked about, this real world that seemed to be so far away that it was in my best interest not to be bothered with it. So I floated in this petri dish covered in a thin-film of small town life. In Spanish, I connected with someone who had felt the same vibrations of a harsh outer world as well, and we saw one another in kind. We would laugh, would rebel in our own silly ways, and sequester ourselves in this bubble together. And Evan and I became best friends almost instantly. We created this story, not out of thin air but of memories that were no more reliable than those our families repeated to us, that we had known one another years ago. That we’d been close, and years later have now reconnected. And to be honest that could still be true, however my memory was as faulty then as it is now about more important things. So in Spanish class, at the tender age of 12, is when I found someone who I could just be myself around. It was when I found a friend that had no more use for time than I did. So we wasted it.

It was later that year, in that nonspecific age of friends, enemies and carelessness, that we met Scott and Aaron. And to our credit, the four of us would be inseparable for the next ten years or so. We were brothers, siblings, family. We were a mix of wandering and grounded souls that seemed to find a home within our friendship. Looking back we all connected on different levels, and it was only during those formative years that it was one large friendship between four people. Later, the smaller connections between us all would form. But despite those small fractals within the design, we would always be a friendship of four to the world. And for those years, we were untouchable. It existed like that until time and growth would drive us all in separate directions.

A few years on, while searching for our own identities while always having the safe harbor of our own care for one another, we began to intermingle and mix with this rotating cast of characters. We’d spend years chasing love, forging enemies that would become friends, friends that would become lovers, and lovers that would never become anything more than a single night. We’d stay up late, talking about the girls they knew we dreamed of. We had no secrets. We’d lose ourselves in 4am exposition spinning daydreams about success, and women, and crushes, and superheroes, and everything that mattered as much to us than as our careers and forming families do to us now.

And now, with the sandblaster of time wreaking havoc, it all looks like this smooth transition where a large group of friends formed and spent all of their time together. But at the time, it was fragile. We were scared kids just wanting someone else to like us. And to “Like us”  like us. I think we found out that, even more than the memories, the faces remain. And we do ourselves no justice by inserting faces into events and calling it nostalgia. We try to recreate what the memories pull up from deep within us. But those feelings are the domain of memories, like late night drive-ins and rain-soaked days, the real memories that I keep with me. It’s those, probably, that continue to glow long after the dust has settled. It’s those that I turn to, as my hands ache and the day has worn me down, when I need to write and I just have to speak truth for once in my day. For once in my week. I will always turn to those years to remember what it felt like to have real connections, call them crushes or friendships. Call them fights or wastes of time. To me, they’re the core of the person I still see myself as inside. So when I go thumbing through video blogs and texts and conversations, old journals and podcasts we thought might make us rich, it’s not to hide or to wish I’d done it differently. It’s to ground myself.

New Issues

If we’re too honest with ourselves, everyone will admit that we wake up each day looking to deal with our issues. We start each day on the precipice of fixing whatever it is we see as false within ourselves, whatever doesn’t sit right. Every mirror, every 5AM and alarm clock is a frame in the large gallery of our desire for self improvement. The struggle with self worth has been a long and arduous one for me. It doesn’t plague my every thought or soil my memories and plans. It presents as this nagging ache in the pit of my stomach, hoping that my outward and inner selves can soon live up to this goal that remains blurred, as if just crossing the horizon. I’ve made great strides, but it’s as prevalent today as it ever was. Never more than when I dive headfirst into old writing.

I stumbled upon a saved clip today that, really, if we’re once again too honest, I went looking for. Leave it to me to catalogue the only conversation where we seemed to speak our mind; to keep it as a sort of ticking time bomb that even I wasn’t aware lay robbed of its pin. It won’t matter, it won’t effect any of my day-to-day or my outward mobility, but it seems to tar up my insides and exacerbate that ache. Another issue on the shelf, I guess a new version no less relevant than it had been last time I took it down to thumb through it. Last time I was thinking about honesty, and how we had both shared it and laughed in its face, and how that was no way to live back then. We were too young to sense the damage around us, the innocence making the decisions we had no right to be forcing upon others. And I used it as a catalyst to be more honest to both others and myself. If I was uncomfortable with secrets, why then I would simply quit having them. Happy to say it has worked well thus far. This time around I see, in the same dusty lines, a commentary on finality. It takes me back to how people always say that you never just start being a grown up, but simply look around one day and see that you’ve put away childish things. Or in some cases, they’ve run off without you. I think finality sneaks up on you more often than not. Each day with someone is a maybe, a what could be, until it isn’t. And that’s just what you live with. Perhaps that’s when you know you’re an adult, when you begin to file away the things you’re just going to have to live with, and without.

Apart from all that, the aimless wandering through blocks of text being as slippery a slope as it ever was, things seem just fine. I thrive in fall and winter, always have. The longer nights, I think, help fuel me. Work ethic picks up, my moral compass stops spinning, and I begin to dig in with resolve. If I feel aimless, I wait until moonlight comes out and I use it to think. I’m happy to be getting comfortable with driving again; those dark roads and conversations with the moon are I think the only thing that keeps me grounded.

Spin

I’m reading a sci-fi novel about the perception of time on earth slowing compared to the rest of the universe. You’ll understand why the following caught me off guard.

Did we notice anything before Jason’s call? A change in the light, something as insignificant as the feeling that a cloud might have passed in front of the sun? No. Nothing. All my attention was on Diane. We were drinking coolers and talking about trivia. Books we’d read, movies we’d seen. The conversation was mesmerizing, not for its content but for the cadences of the talk, the rhythm we fell into when we were alone, now as before. Every conversation between friends or lovers creates its own easy or awkward rhythms, hidden talk that runs like a subterranean river under even the most banal exchange. What we said was trite and conventional, but the undertalk was deep and occasionally treacherous.

And pretty soon we were flirting with each other, as if Simon Townsend and the last eight years signified nothing. Joking at first, then maybe not joking. I told her I’d missed her. She said, “There were times I wanted to talk to you. Needed to talk to you. But I didn’t have your number, or I figured you were busy.” “You could have found my number. I wasn’t busy.” “You’re right. Actually it was more like…moral cowardice.”

 

What more you could hope for from a book about the world almost literally standing still?

Once More Into The Breach

Like a literal cough, I have approached this page with the intent to clear the blockages that have once again been encumbering me. Socially, romantically, personally I’ve been great. There is no definition of my life, no census of my experiences that would create something to complain about. And yet, those damn roadblocks. I look to the past, again, because despite my many… many flaws back then I was a man out of time. I had no significant commitments or responsibilities, and it allowed me to drink the crema of life and insist only upon those experiences that might tear at the fibers of my 4am. But I lack that same freedom. Nay, that same luxury. To call it freedom would be to give way too much clemency to the dark recesses I dwelled in.

What I deal with now, as a man firmly entrenched in time, is the feeling that i’m being swept away in a few directions to which I am expected to wholeheartedly commit. I’m on the back end of an insane, overambitious project that I would hope to someday call my career. The creation, production and distribution of a half hour television sitcom. I had no right or skill to do as well as I did, and it took no shortage of miracles to get me this far. But my concern is, as we’re riding the rapids in one direction, my commitments to other currents. They are simultaneously keeping me afloat (this time not a figurative turn of phrase) and becoming an anchor. I pay the bills and, if you’ll allow a moment of hubris dear reader, I am very good at it. Problem solving, task management, it’s in my personality now. So, yes, I am wistful for the freedom of my once haves and could-a-beens. But as we grow older, as we grow up, that becomes our new dark recess. Our new night terrors follow us as we wind through the corridors of office parks and regret stopping at Starbucks every morning, and are no longer content to simply wait at 4am.

I can’t promise i’ll be doing anymore to satisfy these empty pages and entries, and I can’t say for certain I wont. My words are something I give freely, the meanings and intents of which I claim as mine alone.

In Growth and Change

I barely know how to do this anymore. I focus a lot when i’m writing, I tune out a lot of what’s around me. That used to be one of the reasons I wrote, was to escape into a quieter place. I’m sort of reserved and soft spoken these days. I think it’s because I’ve been through the war, I’ve seen things and I’ve crawled out alive on the other side. I have a woman that became the only way out, for me, and she is the reason i’m standing here today. 

There were a few months, which i’m now realizing were nearly four years ago, that I spent wallowing and whining. It was internal, mostly, and that’s why it was a long lasting problem. Only one person on this earth really knew what was keeping me up at night, and at the time she seemed to both love and hate it. I guess so did I. But i’m not a child anymore, I passed through the crucible of youth and emerged on the other side. I’m still not old enough to know if this is any better, however. 

There’s a pace we all fight against, a rhythm that is much slower than we might prefer. It’s what we eventually fall into, when we’re too tired to keep swimming against it. I’m not at any point saying it’s bad. What i’m saying is that the theme of the week is inevitability. There’s a certain certainty about this whole damned thing that becomes a blanket. 

When I was younger, which is a sentence I’ve no place beginning at 25, I used to project upon others the keys to my success. As if I couldn’t trust myself with it. It’s why I never hit the ground running in my education, and I’ve never recovered from that. It’s why I was single for so damned long. And it’s why, after all these years, reading my own writing makes me cringe. It was a way of losing power, and with less power came less consequence. 

I suppose then, in keeping with the week, it was inevitable that I would get frustrated with that. Unfortunately my mistakes came with the ruin of a few amazing and valuable friendships. And the end had come long before I knew it, long before the last phone calls and texts. It came when I decided that I was somehow better at deciding how the interactions should go, what it all should mean. It was my own hubris that made the normal, reasonable, caring actions of a few come off to me as their own conceited and selfish nature. Interesting how that works. The irony is not lost on me. 

I owe many apologies, to those whose love for me got mixed up with my love for them, to those who needed more out of life than I was willing to allow myself, and most importantly to those whom I at the time didn’t respect enough to allow them to make decisions for their own well being. It’s not the world I needed to control. It was my own hand in it. Through love and kindness, I have learned this about myself. 

I am now soft spoken again, but out of peace. And I am confident, but not out of hubris. I’ve been shying away as much as I can from talking about what I “think” the case is because really there’s no reason to be unsure. In life, there are is’s and isnt’s and there can’t be both. But i think… I think i’m growing up. 

Challenges

There’s a lot of fear in the air lately. A lot of people I know are looking out at the world and having darkness look back. After all the world is a big place, and big places cast big shadows. Your instinct might be to hide, to withdraw. But I caution you against this line of thinking. If good men hide and cower, then collectively we can accomplish little. If your mind is closed off to the thoughts and experiences of others, then collectively we can accomplish nothing.

When I was a kid, long before my current memory kicked in, I saved a life. It was something as simple as diving into a pool to save someone who couldn’t swim, because I could. And it was instinct, it was impulse. I challenge you to have that same impulse. I challenge you to jump into life, jump into the world, and teach those who cant do, simply because you can. Foster goodness, foster love, and it will beget more goodness and love. Foster success and values, regardless of religion but for moral reasons, and it will beget more success and more values. 

And it may not be instantaneous. It may not, in fact, happen at all from your point of view. But you, this new initiate into the world culture, I challenge you to not be perturbed by the lack of visual confirmation of your deeds. You should see that and know that you would have done it anyway, even if you’d failed.

We can’t for much longer afford to sit and ignore the plight of others in favor of our own misgivings. We draw together so strongly in times of need, then drift and become callous and cold not long after. I challenge you to encourage community and strength in spite of there being no obvious need.

I challenge you all to love something in your life, to feel for something as deeply as I have. And to know that the end goal was never feeling the love back, it was feeling yourself give it in the first place. Feeling yourself be capable of it. 

I challenge you not because you need it, and not because I think you’ll heed my words. I challenge you on no authority. I speak simply as one who looks at this great, big world and has decided to, in spite of myself, face it with courage.