There’s a lot I want to say, but that part of me that worries too much about what people might like chokes it all back because I don’t want to come off soft, or sad, or weird.

I’m leaving my home in a few days. It’s the only home I’ve really known for the last 14 years. Sure, I’ve lived in other places, but never for longer than a year, and the places were never really home, you know? I could still always get home from where I lived.

Now I’m back home, but I’m leaving home, and I’m going somewhere where going back home requires a strategy, a reason, and a chunk of money. It’s a strange feeling. It’s a nest-emptying ritual that a lot of people go through before they’re 24, sure. Some people are really brave about it. They just go, damn the torpedoes, and screw you with your cautionary wisdom. I like those people. I admire them.

Me, it’s hard for me, because I don't see it as pressing on towards the future. I see it as cutting loose of the past.

Josh says it’s called “chunking” in math. The ability to break a task down into manageable segments. I like that word, chunking. I like the idea. I would like to be able to chunk. I would like to fragment the Rubik’s Cube of the future into a bunch of little Slide Block Puzzles. Tackle the little bits as individual problems, instead of viewing everything as one insurmountable obstacle in the path. Looking at a mountain as just a bunch of boulders, instead of as a motherfucking mountain.

I’m no good at it, though. I like to see everything I can, all at once, which has usually meant taking the chairlift up from base camp and looking down from the top. Shortcuts of one kind or another. Just hoping the first draft is good enough without any revision. Being content with a few great friends I made by accident. Taking help from my parents whenever they offered it, which was nearly all the time.

And it’s not like I’m suddenly faced with the fact that I have be totally self-sufficient all at once. I would have exploded into a fine, chalky dust if that were the case.

But I’m packing, you know? I’m packing up all my shit. All the stuff I’ve accumulated over a lifetime of rat-packeteering, all arranged just so in the two years I’ve lived in this little two-bedroom apartment off my parent’s house. I took apart the spider mount of my vocal mic today. I stacked the drums in a closet. I’ve put all the books in boxes, I’ve put all the clothes in bags. What I’m left with closely resembles a dirty, overlit meth house, minus the Pyrex and plus really nice carpet and comfortable furniture.

It doesn’t feel the same already. I already feel a little bit alienated from this place I live, without yet having anywhere to put the reserve of emotion, of affection I stored here.

The means which I’ve chosen to cope is this crazed holistic hippie nonsense wherein I just reallyreallyreally want everybody to be happy and have a place in the universe because it makes me feel like I'm merely a ball that's been bounced, and in a moment I'll settle with the rest. I feel this overwhelming, smiling, futile goodwill, like I imagine a politically impotent fifties housewife might have.

You know what I keep thinking about? I don’t know why I’ve latched onto this.

I’m going to have to buy a whole new bottle of ranch dressing. You drive halfway across the country to start a new life, a bouncing-bouncing ball, and the first thing you have to do is spend four dollars on a new fucking bottle of ranch dressing. It's like a levy on moving imposed by Kraft corporation. There are all these hidden costs of moving, physical and emotional costs, that I can’t chunk. I can’t chunk them, and I can’t even see them. They’re tucked behind the boulders like scorpions, and I’m terrified of them. At least, I think they’re tucked behind boulders. It could be there’s nothing behind the boulders. But I’m convinced a stinging bitch coils in anticipation in every break of my field of vision. I can’t break it down, and I can’t power through.

What I’m doing is an age-old dance that’s been done by many men over many generations. It’s called pussyfooting.

What I’m trying to do is open this rift in my life, this bulldozing of everything I know, into an opportunity for reinvention. Reinvention takes calculation.

I always wanted to, you know, wear more blazers, but I never really did, because I always thought it would be pretentious to wear blazers because I haven’t set a precedent as being the kind of guy who wears blazers.

Well, in Baltimore, I can be the kind of guy who wears blazers, and fuck you, who are you to know any different? You know, whatever the fuck ever.

I can be the guy who doesn’t second-guess every decision. I can be the guy who says “fuck it, let’s do it,” just to do it. Not because it’s owed to me, just because it’s not prohibited.

More importantly, I can finally have a reason to be fascinated. A reason to care about what I’m doing. If I want it, all I have to do is take it. If I don’t want to worry, I don’t have to worry. My parents have money. Not that much, but some. And they’re positively itching to give it to me. I don’t want to take it. It’s not a point of pride in any traditional stand-on-my-own-two-feet sense. It’s only because I don’t want to automatically be the kid who’s partly financed by his folks. But fuck it, you know? If my choices are to live in the claws of poverty-terror, or in the relatively limp, warm, moist fist of low-low-middle class comfort, where buying a winter coat isn’t a double-clutch make-or-break holy-fucking-shit-the-world-is-ending proposition, and I can eat without feeling intense fucking guilt about eating, shouldn’t I take that opportunity? I've been so fucking broke for the last six years of my life that I feel fucking guilty eating. I don't want that life for myself. But I’m already assuming I’m going to be judged as soft. And I already know I’m soft, and I don’t really have a problem with being soft. So why it should be so terrifying to me that other people could regard me as soft is baffling.

I haven’t slept for thirty-six hours. I pulled an all-nighter so that I could call the manager at my apartment building and talk about a move-in date. Then, at seven in the morning, I went over to my house and asked my mom if she would do it, so I could get some sleep. I felt crushed in by it, the totally frivolous call looming over me like a ponderously symbolic ceiling of dull-ass knives. It happens to me whenever I stay up all night for something really important. I get tired hours before I would normally get tired, because my body knows what I’m up to. “You’re going to stay up all night,” it says, “and, what, I'm just supposed to take it? Fuck you!” It starts pumping melatonin all through me ("Sleep, bitch, sleep!") and I start to panic, and the panic mixes with caffeine, and the caffeine, adrenalin, and melatonin all swirl together in a chemical cocktail that always comes with a weird gauze haze. I vividly associate that gauze haze with nearly every important deadline of my life, and it’s a feeling I’ve grown so weary of that I duck it at every possible opportunity.

A wiser person would have just decided, long ago, to finish important things before it becomes necessary to stay up all night to even have a chance to get a crack at them. But I haven’t been burned by the habit yet. I’ve always got things in under the wire. This is as bad a habit as you can have in the face of the environment which I am about to enter, where, two years from now, I'm going to be tested on whether or not I know enough to be allowed to continue. You can't cram for that test, I don't think.

But to cross that road, first I have to be able to actually talk to the funny little foreign guy named Willie who owns the building. I can’t understand him until he says something for a second or third time. I start to feel so sorry that there’s this breech in our communication. I want so badly to understand him so that he can feel like he’s gotten his message across, but we talk like we’re trying to do the same dance routine at the same time without knowing a single step in advance.

So I had my mom make the call, but it didn’t work. She got voicemail, and I got the call anyway, and the call went fine, because I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have to make the call. I got the call. Skated in under the wire.

Fucking bullet the blue sky.

So I'm back to packing up my shit, and I feel like a virus that is eating my house from the inside. Cannibalizing it, gutting it, ripping every nutrient out of it and moving on. I feel this nonsense loyalty to my life and its stasis and its total lack of risk or reward. It’s a slow, sad, furry, loveable creature that doesn’t do much good but doesn’t hurt anybody either. I feel like I’m dumping my noble three-toed sloth of a girlfriend so I can go out with a sleek, heartless bitch of a falcon who's going to rip my guts out because that's just what she does.

But what’s great is, I’m already getting over it a little bit. It's fucking falconeering. You break it, blind it, and train that freaky raptor to catch shit for you and bring it back. Last week, all I felt was dread. And now, it’s a little bit real, so it’s a little bit exciting, and after every bit of stuff gets put in a box, after every next shred of evidence that I actually exist here is removed, the fact that I do exist here becomes less and less important, and the prospect of me existing somewhere else becomes more and more probable, and less and less like blasphemy. Of course, I still have to drive twenty hours in two days. But you know what I never have to do again? I never have to worry what I’m doing here. Never again. I might have to worry what I’m doing there, but I’m not there yet, and once I get there, it’ll be an entirely different here than this here has been, and I will be a completely different me than I am now. And hopefully there, when I’m haunted by something, by my own inadequacy or the inadequacy of others or the superabundance of adequacy of others or the way the adequacy of others causes them to completely misunderstand my own superabundance of adequacy, it’ll sting like citrus, it’ll be exhilarating, it’ll bite back a bit as I chew it, instead of just grinding into a wheat germ mash and sliding down, another meal to go unremembered the next day. You know what might happen?

This might put a little fight in me.

And that, I think, is pretty cool.


Joe said...

Hey, you'll have acquaintances that look like old friends (i.e. me) around, the rudiments of a fancy degree from a fancy institution, a ludicrously expensive apartment, and the occasional purple skies to cheer you up. Baltimore might be a beautiful thing for you when all's said and done. The future's at hand, sir... to paraphrase Calvin's dad, you're about to build a shit ton of character.

Also: Kudos for the U2 reference?

CircleGetSquare said...

can i have a witness?!