There are things I like, and things I can’t get enough of. And there are things I love, too.
There are things I don’t like, and things I hate. There are things I abhor with every fiber of my being.
And then there’s being factually incorrect about something. And that burrows under my skin and drives me insane.
I don’t like to admit it. I like it less when I’m hanging out with someone and they challenge me and I find out later that I was right.
I always find out later. I always let it go in the moment.
I run into Clive one night outside of the New Yorker. A big smile. A strong handshake. Speaking in Patois.
Vicky and CJ gone away, to ——.
“Of all da places, mahn,” Clive drawls in his deep, subterranean voice.
He tells me he’s heading to work. I tell him I’m heading home. We smile and part ways. I tell myself I need to call Vicky, but I keep putting it off.
I need to call a lot of people.
I keep putting things off.
On my work table, on top of my film scanner, there’s a lego set and two stuffed animals for my nieces. I look at them throughout the week and smile to myself.
Sometimes I get lost thinking about my own childhood. And the things you remember.
On Saturday afternoon I get a tooth pulled, though it’s not so much a tooth as the broken remains of a tooth.
“Well, it’s out.” Doctor Singh tells me. “Thank God,” I say, almost reflexively, unthinkingly.
Doctor Singh chuckles. On the tray beside the chair, there’s a tooth covered almost entirely in blood. Next to the cold steel tools, it’s almost beautiful. I lament not having a camera. I almost think to ask him, to plead with him, or bribe him…if he could only take a photo and email it to me.
Why didn’t I bring my camera? In my pocket is my flip phone. In another pocket a copy of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. I look at the tooth and think it’s beautiful. After a while he comes back and hands me painkillers and antibiotics, then I pay and leave.
When I was younger I had everything figured out.
I don’t think it was ever a bad plan, really. I just think I lost focus as I got older, and stopped sticking to my guns. I started listening to other people, and thinking maybe they were onto something.
But now I feel like even if they are, or were, it’s not for me. A really simple, basic, elementary goal. A really personal kind of code. A very idealistic and maybe unrealistic outlook. But if the shoe fits.
Late at night, I lay on my back, and twist my head into my pillow and look out the window behind my bed. And I think, I could just pay someone to be the kind of person I want to meet, and tell myself it’s the real thing.
I keep telling people I’m going to call them back.
I keep telling people I haven’t met the right girl yet.
And that I quit smoking and drinking.
I tell myself I’m getting better every day. But that’s bullshit. I’m just hurting myself less. That’s not really making me better.
When I find out I’m wrong about something, I pull my head down my collar and into my chest.
When I find out I’m mistaken about something, I might spend five minutes or an hour berating myself in my head. It’s important to really rake yourself over the coals here. You have to do it so that it almost actually hurts.
When you’re feeling worthless in your ignorance, you know you’ve done a good job. Then you tell yourself that this will never happen again. And you say it over and over. And you dig down deep and pull that horrible, black, hopeless feeling back out of your soul and hold it in front of your eyes.
“No one’s perfect,” someone tells me.
“Yeah, not with that attitude,” I shoot back.
The key is to be the pain you don’t want. Because it takes strength to make you smarter.
I keep thinking about addiction. The way Natasha Filipovna rejected the Prince for fear of ruining him.
And every time I hear that Alkaline Trio song, I just want to smoke a whole pack of unfiltered Camels. Leaning against a brick wall in Manhattan, and watching the lights of cars and buildings blurring away.
People always turn to alcohol or heavier drugs. They get really fuzzy so they can lose focus and forget some pain.
I want a sharper picture. I want to feel every little bit of sorrow and despair. I want to go over it like it’s a topographical map. Every little line and detail. I want to burn it into my brain.
I want to know why and how it is that I’m so fucked up from other peoples’ perspective.
Sometimes I think the only way to make myself whole is to carve out a little more.
It’s the thought that there’s an unknowable timer on all of this, on every person you meet or face you see, in a glance on a packed train or crowded street. And kids grow up into people and raise their own little people in turn. And no one is doing shit. No one is doing anything. And you smile and laugh and you feel like you could give away everything and go live in a cave, for what it’s all worth. For what it all means.
And why am I singled out? Why am I set apart, left out, on the other side of a divide? Time is running out and I can’t fix what I am.
Sometimes I can feel it clawing at my heart. And I grow panicked and want to yell, I want to grab people by the shoulders and shake them awake.
But they are awake. I’m just crazy.
And there are people I ought to call back, but probably won’t.
There’s shit I should admit to, and be truthful about.
Strings left loose, promises unkept, and confessions silently sealed away.
But like most of the things I’ve probably felt at one point or another in life, it was all probably one-sided, and there’s no use in telling anyone anything.