There was this place you always went to, and solely for that reason. It had a parking lot that was probably never filled. An empty cop car, the occasional group of yearners—guys and gals who simply needed a place to aimlessly stand in a circle and technically socialize. Maybe it was the place where you asked out your first girlfriend. Like asked her out, because that’s how things worked back then. You knew what the answer was going to be, but fuck why were you so nervous. This shitty town. It always made you so nervous.
And then the drive home, when it was just you and the sky, a little bit brighter than it should’ve been at that time of night. You were blasting music that mattered—the anthem of whatever year it was, even though the song was actually made a decade ago. The volume drowning out your voice so well, no one had a clue you were lead singer for a moment. Like the world was just one big road that you could drive faster on, because character is what happens when no one’s around to watch you drive way too aggressively. Shitty towns have no idea how beautiful they really are.
You’re back, a few years later and you think everything has changed. You’re back a few years after that, and repeat cycle. You think everything has changed because it has. You went off to that place and got corrupted. And then that other place, and that other place. The person you were five years ago wouldn’t be sure whether or not to hate you, fervently admire you, or put on those pajamas Taylor Swift wore in that video from 2008 and bury your head under a pillow. The noise from that outdated anthem, it’s closing in and you’re gonna have to do something before the downbeat. The new habits you’ve picked up–the coffee, the drugs, the hordes of chinese takeout–none of its gonna stop the rush. It’s all coming to a close. Or a start.
It’s the beginning of the rest of your life, and it’s so damn…it’s so damn a thing. You wish you could hide behind internet memes and the general faux glaze of nonchalance that plagues people your age, but those 43 things you have to get done this are getting more and more suffocating. So you think to yourself, for the seven-thousandth time, that now is when get out. Now is when you magically acquire your own place far far away, so you could go to the farmers market at get almonds without anyone judging you. But you know its all for naught because you’ll always end up back there. By that parking lot. Only this time you’re a block or two away, spending money you don’t have on 9 beers so that you can wake up the next day and hate yourself–but actually, love yourself. That voice all hoarse, it’s not so much talking as it is screaming. About that life you live, running on an empty gas tank but somehow not breaking down. Making it to that place without gas is always such a better story.
Not knowing where you’re going, but just driving down that road with the red light that you could so go through, because no one would notice. And it all comes back to that shitty diner where you asked that girl you really liked to the prom. The town that was too shitty to stay in, but too comfortable to ever venture out of. Your town.