When You Look At Your Hot Mess Life And Wonder How You Got Here

Obvious Child
Obvious Child

I shouldn’t have had so much to drink last night. But that’s been the usual. I drink because it fills me, it distracts me, it makes me laugh. And when I wake in the pale grey morning, full of aches and sweat and dread, I return to an absence in myself I can’t describe. One that’s taken the place of contentment, happiness, purpose. I put coffee on. Some music. I light a cigarette. I smoked too many last night, but it sorta fit the whole Conor Oberst vibe that’d been relevant in my world lately. A strung-out artist life, Brooklyn, staring into skies with sleep-deprived eyes, so seriously thinking about everything and nothing. I think of the words “I am” followed by a period and not an ellipsis waiting for a second part to the sentence. I am. I am. But am I?

The wonderings in my life had been so chronic lately. I kept thinking that if things had gone according to plan I wouldn’t be here. I’d be doing something proper, working on something that meant something, loving a real person, making plans. Yeah, all that. But it’s just a Spotify playlist roaring, a throbbing between my legs, my company in books, clothes astray, my bed a mess, and dirty cups collecting mold.

I look around, so bored but also relieved to have nothing to do. I don’t feel like doing anything. Vicious cycles of redundancy. Productivity? Hardly. The core of me has changed. I try to think about where it all went wrong, when time decided to go against me. I do not know. I should be fixing things up–in life, that is–and making sense of the disorder in my stir-crazy days. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next day. Just not now. Never now. Procrastination at its best. Complaining of a rut, but never taking the breath to change.

I just can’t stop fucking around. There’s so much fucking around, it seems.

I smear on too much eyeliner over last night’s eyeliner, stuff a book in my bag, sunglasses on. I’ll let the sunshine carry me. To the park I end up. The day is abuzz. Sidewalks full of hipsters drunk in the afternoon, coming from brunch, the market by the waterfront, to a friend’s obscure loft. I watch couples transfixed and entwined. Mothers, laughter, baseballs, dogs. Infinite lightness and purity. Behind my sunglasses I cry. I know why I’m crying, and yet, I don’t. (It’s the one relief I have in this city. That crying in public is acceptable here and people won’t bother you about it.) It’s a quiet cry anyway, tears looking like allergies I wipe quickly with the back of my hands, before pressing fingerprints underneath my aviators. My chest hurts. The loneliness is harrowing.

There once was a time when I didn’t need anyone. But I wish I had someone now. I think about my friends and the houses they have in preppy towns, their mature savings accounts, their nesting for babies, nice promotions and cars. I am an ocean away from all that. I am prepared for nothing. So while they invest and refurbish I will go back on Tinder and apply to jobs I won’t get and watch planes fly over my city and wish I could be wherever it is they’re coming from. Wanderlust is my vice.

And so it is. I am. I repeat it to myself all the way home, to the liquor store for wine, to my living room floor with Chinese takeout spread between my legs. Reminders are good. I am. But am I? I touch my body. I hide my face in my shirt. The silence here is so dark and thick. And I am drunk again. But I will not stay here tonight. I chug all the wine from my mason jar and decide to go to that free concert, after all. Why not? I have nobody to change my mind, to nag at me, to worry about. I am only me. And that’s the brilliant part of it. Because this isn’t “it” for me. This is actually a time of my life I will one day miss.

The troubled, hollow, lonesome, drunken mess of what it means to be aimless and utterly free. And in thinking that, even though muddled blue, I think there’s something beautiful about it.

I go to the show in Williamsburg. I wait in line for two hours in the pouring rain. I don’t get in, because the show is full. And that is all for me today. TC mark

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