I took the plunge. I remember falling. I wanted to keep my eyes opened until the Listerine-colored water engulfed me. It was a haze as the water rushed up my nose. A bitter taste of strong chlorine stayed on my tongue. I wish I was writing figuratively. For my 25th birthday, I flew up to San Francisco to see a childhood friend. We met in middle school, and for half of my life we’ve remained friends. I have this tendency of holding on to people. But I digress. There were so many moments I found picturesque throughout my travels. The best part, they were so mundane –nothing out of the ordinary, nothing spectacular. But it was oddly cinematic. That’s just my perspective. It was the middle of nowhere, on what seemed to be someone’s old farm. I can easily imagine one day a farmer got tired of the heat, and decided he wanted to create a water park in the middle of nowhere. And then he did. There was wake boarding, an artificial beach, and this obstacle course of floaties on this radioactive, murky water. Did I mention I’m terrified of water? I stood on the ledge, and I remember fuck it, just jump. I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere. This is coming from a person who is afraid of many things. The bubbles swirled about me. I couldn’t see, but this feeling of freedom overcame me. It was relief. It was excitement and I was clearly outside my comfort zone.
I took the last train to the airport. I sat in a shuttering cart alone for some time. This was after an unexpected detour. Passengers for the San Francisco Airport, please exit and transfer. Transfer? Transfer to what? Me and other disgruntled people are corralled down an escalator and a bus awaits us. A well-dressed blind man holds onto the arm of a construction worker. I’m thinking all of this is rather surreal. Somehow, I didn’t get off on the wrong stop. I wrote at the airport as I watched the zombies stumble from one end to the other. Eventually I joined them in their laps. It’s surprisingly cold in San Francisco in the middle of summer. The fluorescent lighting makes it hard to sleep, so I sleep with my hoodie backwards, covering my face.
We said goodbye so many times, and I think I’m doing all this to forget you. I’m sorry we had to end like this. I’m sorry I hurt you, and I know you’re sorry you hurt me. But this is the price for growth… I’m smoking seaside. I’m smoking on hilltops. And I’m smoking outside coffee shops.
It was a good trip.
I have this mental block recently. I thought I should go to the desert. That seemed symbolic of my barren imagination. I hoped to see something beautiful in that desolation, maybe find something hidden, secretive. I can’t say there wasn’t any beauty to my wandering around. There were moments oddly picturesque as I sat outside the shit hotel, smoking cigarettes. I remember the half-lit sign, the empty parking lot, the few cars that sped along that cracked highway because they knew nothing was worth staying for where I was at. We found chairs lined with plush outside, strewn about as if the previous tenants dragged them out and decided that the owners wouldn’t mind. Of course, they were right in their assumption because the chairs had a film of sand over them. I remember the grittiness that brushed against my bare back. The night had been quiet. There was this silence I had not been accustomed to. I remember thinking why would anyone want to live out there, and I still think that way; but to say the least, it was an experience I didn’t regret having. The moon had this iridescent glow and a few clouds sat strangely in the sky. The entire night had this feeling of unnaturalness to it. And it was pretty great because of that strange, alien feeling. Sure, it sucked staying there in the intense heat. But truthfully, I don’t remember the heat. I just remember those oddly picturesque images that I’ve burned into my memory. We chased the sunrise across this almost ghost town, and we found it in endless fields. Clearly, there was some sort of beauty there, for a couple was having their pregnancy photos taken there… This seems to be a theme with me; of making the best of a situation and coming short. We ultimately did not go to the actual national park, which had been the goal of this spontaneous trip. Thinking back, I should’ve fought for it. I mean I barely wanted to anymore… but I think I should’ve pushed myself to. After all why did we drive out there?
I just remember this terrible feeling of impotence; that I had this vision of what I wanted to experience, yet nothing came close to what I had envisioned. I don’t know where this pressure came from, or why I would subjugate myself to it. But there was this need, this hunger for something amazing or beautiful. Of course nothing of the sort happened. It was a mundane night. The shrooms did not work –our fault. I think what I learned from this is there are little moments of beauty scattered throughout any moment, and that I should probably plan better before I embark on one of my overly spontaneous trips. Lessons learned, and it was overall a new experience!
Our consciousness scrambled and blended together. I saw you in an electric, iridescent glow. I could see the currents running across your skin. I thought you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I saw your skin melt until you were bones. I saw you at your end. I wanted nothing more than to waste away my life with you. Only that wasn’t true.
I didn’t know you could lose yourself in another person. I thought we could lift each other up. We both tried until we went insane. We were each other’s black hole.
I left half of my mind with you. I don’t know why it has to be ultimatums. But it just does. Life makes you sacrifice regardless. I just never thought we needed to sacrifice each other for happiness. Among my friends and family, you were the most precious. I never wanted to let you go. I blame romantic movies and pop culture romance. They make you think this magical person will come into your life and make you happy. But when I finally quit my whining, I know I’m to blame for being gullible. I learned too late my happiness is my own responsibility.
Becoming strangers scares me. It’s been some time since I last saw you, and I can’t say we’re the same people anymore. Part of me wishes to retreat to the past, but I know that’s my weaker half speaking. The past feels stable to say the least. It’s extreme to say but this felt cataclysmic. I lose myself in LA, and the surrealism eats at my sanity sometimes. Sometimes I have conversations that don’t feel real. I talked to this person for hours and I never got his name. It was all gibberish.
At the end of this, I just hope it was worth something, anything; I hope we grow in the ways we wanted.
The woods rose around me for some time now; I had been accustomed to oppressive shadows that seemed to detain me. The thing about these trees with their creeping branches, they begin to anthropomorphize with visages and limbs. The grooves had turned to features, of eyes, nose, and mouth. And they smile at you. I can tell after so long, you’d start to believe you were one of the trees. And maybe at some point you’d calcify, your flesh would deteriorate, and the vines and branches finally envelop you in a tomb, leaving the faintest marks of a person. But when I looked to my feet, I saw that I was not entangled as I had imagined. For so long, I felt the strongest weight on my feet like great anchors. But I was always free to walk the woods. My perception dispelled, leaving me disorientated and my grasp on my reality began to change. I suppose nothing is gained without pain. I moved for some time scared, anxious, and timid. Shadowed trees turned human back to trees in an endless cycle, reminders of a fated path had I remained still. As I wandered, my path was illuminated with a sudden light. I shied away, thinking it was my destruction. But it was warmth. The will-o-wisp bobbed through the air and I followed it. It had a gravity, and I wanted to believe it was for me and me only. I am shackled to my arrogance and vanity, but I need them to not become rooted in oblivion. I couldn’t stay in the light. There were intervals of absolute darkness again. But it was not an eternity as I had feared. Always the fire returned until eventually I walked with neither expectation that light and darkness would last. The world around me seemed less frightening. I’m on a path somewhere, of which trajectory I don’t fully understand, but there is movement rather than stagnancy. I felt alive for once. I’d like to think that taking the first step was my saving grace.
You look like someone I loved. When I saw you, I thought of being bundled in blankets in an ACed room with a blistering summer day wasting away. Drifting to sleep was easy enough. The blankets smothered my consciousness. But I always wake up with my joints aching, and the air stolen from me, swirling about in some ethereal plane. You’re a luxury gone bad, and I had forgotten the bad.
Anthony Bourdain gave me hope. I felt trapped in an endless routine of work and sleep. That was my reality, but his show offered me a glimpse of a greater experience. His travels made me feel small. At the same time, his show allowed me to vicariously experience more of humanity. He visited countries in poverty. He ate with people going through problems I could never fathom. But they would laugh and eat together. Those moments made me appreciative of having meals with my friends and family. It was never a solution to all our problems, but it was a reminder that we’re all of the same species with the same primal need; and sadly, we as a species are prone to our demons. When he talked about his troubles in Argentina, my delusions of travel, fame, and money were dispelled. It made me realize my depression was his depression. We all feel trapped in some shape and form –that seemed to be a human condition. Nonetheless, he made me want to experience humanity to its fullest scope. Both the lows and the highs. His introspective writing connected people, and made me realize the best way to understand others is to dig deep into oneself. But he also showed me life was waiting for me to see all that it had to offer. I just had to be brave like him. I really look up to him.
Today I sat outside in the sunlight. I like my coffee when I can’t taste the coffee. I like my cream and sugar. I take a breather. I try not to smoke a cigarette. I watch my shirts flutter on their hangers. Today’s a nice day to do nothing. When you have all the time in world, you don’t appreciate that time. Then when you have a million things to do, all you want is time to do nothing. I like to think my mind is a high-maintenance woman. People like to challenge my masculinity. I get caught up in that sometimes. But then I remember its all ego in the end. I try to repress my ego. I try to repress my vanity. For a week, I embraced my vanity. I cut my hair and got a large tattoo on my shoulder. There’s this idea I’ve been tinkering with; one must be vain to have an identity in modern times. You are your clothes, your hair, your body, your words, your Instagram, your facebook. Anything deeper, more intimate, you don’t get to share save with a few special people. I think that’s identity. Vanity is how you show as much of yourself without the late-night, 2AM conversations. We’re just trying bypass that and we’ve gotten good at it. We’re all walking talking narratives of how we’d like to live our lives. I guess I’m tired of narratives. I think its from being in Hollywood too much. You have the beautiful people. Then you have the schizophrenic lying face down on the library’s lawn. The beautiful people have narratives that they wear and broadcast. The homeless dude is like, ‘this is me’ because he doesn’t have the consciousness to create a narrative. I think I want to be honest like that dude. I am sad. I am lonely. I am a feminine man. I am a rare human being. I am emotional. I am meeeeee.