I drunkenly ash another cigarette. Marlboro Red. Nothing fancy. I don’t even think it’s to be cool at this point. I think it’s because I’m cold. I am just so damn cold. My skin, my head, my heart, and I guess my lungs. I’m not addicted though, really. It just happens sometimes. I had a pack in the back of my seat in my shitty car. I never thought it would get to this point. I’m wearing a denim vest with pins of bands I’m semi interested in smoking a cigarette talking about the Utah Jazz in New York in the winter. Not Manhattan either. That’s the assumption that I too often allow. Just New York. The rest of it. It’s a whole other being. I don’t like any of it and I love all of it. I present my case that the Jazz and the Spurs almost developed a rivalry because of the playoffs two years ago but how it was lost because of the dissipated Jazz team and the Spurs being remarkably out of their league regardless and my friend agrees and asks if I want to go inside for another shot. I ignore him and start talking about the Spurs staying an elite team despite age and constant public disbelief and how the Jazz will be lost for years because they’re building around the presumed mediocrity of Trey Burke. He says that the Jazz have better jerseys. I don’t know if I agree with him or not. Then we hear the DJ play a J. Dilla song we both love inside and he asks me again if I wanna go in for another shot. Sure. Why not. Don’t we all just want another shot? I’m in upstate New York at age 24 wondering what happened to the dreams of being a world traveler. Also an archeologist. California was where I learned what a dream was. I was 8 years old walking through a canyon envisioning fantasies of being 24 walking through a canyon. I suppose I wasn’t imagining more than what was actually going on other than being tall and maybe having to tame a lion. Oh, and obviously the discovery of an unidentified dinosaur bone. I can identify with an unidentified dinosaur bone. It has a lot of potential to be something great, but it hasn’t been found. Then when it is found, it turns out to just be some bone to a t-rex. Underwhelming. Just like me. I go inside and take the shot. It’s Jameson I think. I don’t care. I’ve never been partial to liquor so I don’t know anything about it. I like that the taste of the liquor washed out the taste of that mostly unwanted cigarette. I hate this bar. Not always though. Tonight I do. The DJ ended his set and now some man is standing in the corner with an acoustic guitar and an amp and microphone and covering a lot of songs that are deeply meaningful to me very poorly. Right now it’s ‘Surf Wax America’ by Weezer. I moved to Colorado for 3 months and listened to this song a lot for no reason. A lot. Almost every day. Then at the local bar I’d put it on the Jukebox and get way too excited to hear a song in a public setting that I just listened to in a private setting about two hours before. There’s this weirdly exciting feeling about hearing a song that you love in public. I think maybe it has to do with our immense love for having an identity. If we hear a song that we love with other people around, then it’s like these other people are getting to see a little bit of who you are without you having to even talk to them. That’s what it feels like, anyway. Just another way to try and reach our ultimate goal of identity nirvana; being outwardly known without having to know anyone. It’s why we worship celebrities, because we connect with them and know them without ever having to meet them. We idolize the concept of being praised for being you, without you ever being truly exposed. I think. I don’t really know. Maybe some celebrities aren’t on that quest and just like singing or acting. I was in Colorado to do this snowboarding piece for ESPN2 which was fairly exciting conceptually but turned out to be horribly depressing because it’s the snow and snowboarding and I don’t care for snowboarding and I hate snow and I couldn’t connect with anyone because I didn’t smoke weed or snowboard but more importantly didn’t smoke weed. I made a good amount of money but it didn’t really go anywhere so after a brief introspective trip back to California I just came back to New York. I went to San Francisco first to visit an old friend named Caroline Hutching. It was good because it was warm and we went across the bridge to a Warriors game (who were actually playing the Jazz) and then ate a lot, mostly Del Taco and In-N-Out, and had three intense life changing moments together. Two of them I don’t think I’ll ever mention again. We were both drunk one night and had just got back to her apartment from being at some really hip bar where we listened to ‘Roses’ by Outkast three times in a row just to yell CAROLINE with Andre 3000 over and over again to relive the nostalgia of being in middle school fabricating the thought that someone famous with cool sunglasses was singing a song about you. We got some Sierra Nevada and put ‘The River’ by Bruce Springsteen on her record player because we both had ‘Hungry Heart’ stuck in our heads. We screamed the entire song together and played it about six times, each time a little louder. Her downstairs neighbor came up and knocked on the door and said we needed to turn it down because it was 3:45 in the morning and he was trying to fall asleep. He also said he loves the Boss and wouldn’t have requested it to be lowered if had been ‘Born To Run’, in which I drunkenly commented that ‘Born To Run’ is overrated, and he started laughing and said being overrated only exists because something is so good that pretentious people needed a fake word to be synonymous with too known. I thought about that for a while and mostly agreed because ‘Stairway To Heaven’ isn’t an overrated song and The Beatles aren’t an overrated band. I then retracted my statement about ‘Born To Run’ and cited pretentiousness for my reasoning. We invited him to come in for a while and have some drinks and he excitedly accepted the offer, which in retrospect was kind of an odd thing for him to do because he had only come to the door because he was complaining about trying to sleep, but when you’re drunk, unexpected new company is like a pot of gold. For the next four hours we took turns picking songs on vinyls to play; ‘Oh, Sweet Nuthin’ by The Velvet Underground, ‘Virginia’ by David Bazan, The Light by Common, ‘In Between Days’ by The Cure and then ‘Hungry Heart’ again after we each took another shot of some cheap tequila we found stashed away. We left that record on and we lit some candles and we slow danced together when ‘The River’ came on, and when I say slow dance what I mean is that we swayed back and forth with our hands on each others shoulders and when Bruce started singing the second verse, which I find really lyrically awkward, because he says the line “But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy”, which is just poorly phrased and an awful choice of words, Caroline leaned over and kissed my cheek. Neighbor Dave said goodbye to us and told Caroline they should hang out some time and she said yes and closed the door and then walked over to me and told me that she was really happy I came to California. I said I was too and she told me that the day before I got there she found out she had a really bad cancer. She started crying and I held her for a long time passed the sun coming up. She didn’t think she was going to make it, and she told me that I had to promise to not linger in limbo, and I asked what she meant, and she said she knew that I was moving around doing minor work without passion. She told me to follow my dreams and stop being so lukewarm. She told me to pray more. It was all very cheesy but it was ok because I think things that are cheesy follow under the same logic as neighbor Dave’s concept of overrated, cheesy is just often real heartfelt things that cynics just want to be bitter about because they probably have a fear they’ll never get to the point of that cheesy sentiment. We were still pretty drunk though, so we put on Hey! Arnold on Netflix and fell asleep on the couch together. Caroline died six months later. I haven’t followed her advice. I’m still coasting.
I had band practice last night but I didn’t go, on account of I don’t want to do it anymore. I played guitar in some Black Keys rip off band but I can’t really play guitar at all and I don’t support creating mediocre things passionately, although that seems to be my life, so I stopped doing it. I wasn’t the lead guitarist so it’s not a huge loss for them. Things are at a weird place because last summer I wrote a play and it did really well locally and I kind of was thinking that it was going to be picked up by some place bigger and I turned down a few big opportunities relying on that, but it didn’t pan out. It’s called ‘Elevator Music’ and it was about a woman who falls in love with a black elevator operator in the sixties. It was well received but not everything that is received well get’s recognized. I think we call celebrities ‘stars’ because there are an infinite amount of people who can do what they do and probably do it better, but they just happen to be the ones we see, just like the stars in the sky. Some stars just won’t ever be seen, no matter how hot and bright they are. The universe has too many metaphors lined up. I’m drinking tonight because when I get drunk I stop remembering to check my phone which means it will die which means I will be cut off from my bandmates and ex-girlfriend. Breaking up is kind of synonymous to leaving a band. When you leave a band, there was a definitive reason, but it’s not always good. Someone replaces you and has a high likelihood of doing what you do much better than you. You act like you never liked the band but really you go on their Facebook and check to see what their new music is like on a daily basis. I am in the stage of the break up where I don’t know how to process anything, so I just don’t quite feel anything about it. Her name is Ellory. We dated for two years and now it’s just done. Someone completely known is now just a stranger. One time I was in Los Angeles at McDonald’s and I saw Harrison Ford ordering a Big Mac. Indiana Jones was ordering fast food. He was someone to me, a specific someone. He was the hero who wore the hat, who was afraid of snakes, who Papa and I would watch on his small bedroom TV when I was a kid, who had a whip and kissed pretty blonde girls. This man was not that man. He dropped his receipt and picked it up to throw it away. I watched Indiana Jones pick up some trash and throw it away. Conceptually, that makes sense because Indiana Jones was a professor of history so he was into preservation, but still, they’d never show him picking up trash in the movies. This experience is kind of like how I view Ellory now. She’s out of the element that I know her in. She’s a stranger picking up trash instead of a hero with a whip. I’m really drunk now. I know this because I’m talking to a girl I don’t know (indication 1) about 9/11 being a set up (indication 2.) I should go home. I’ve got a lot of nothing to do. I go to tip the bartender and a picture of Ellory falls out of my wallet. This is weird because I didn’t realize I was ever a character in a 1950’s sitcom who carried around a picture of his ‘girl’ around in his wallet. It’s an older wallet that I only ever used 5 times because it was a christmas present and I hate breaking new things in but I also hate not using something I was given. She gave it to me with a picture of her in it. I never realized this. It was from one night we went out in the city and she wore this mint green dress that had a cut out in the back that showed a small fraction of her back tattoo and many of the freckles the sun had caused that summer. The picture of her was at our friends apartment after we we had all gotten back from barhopping. She was at the piano drunkenly playing ‘Baby Britain’ by Elliott Smith trembling the line ‘for someone half as smart, you’d be a work of art’ while I ignored the possible subconscious drunken sentiment behind this song choice because I was staring at her right shoulder due to the fact that the dress had slipped off a little bit revealing her skin in this romantic intimate manner. I took a picture of her at the piano with her camera. This is that picture. I stuff it in my pocket and go get in the cab waiting and close my eyes to slip into the probable death trap of the unconscious memory zone. I wake up to ‘Bitches Ain’t Shit’ by Dr. Dre blaring in my ear which means I’m busy today and I have to get up. Abrasive hip-hop is the alarm that works to get me up. I am immensely hung over. My head feels like the guy on the cover of the VHS for the film ‘Scanners.’ What do I have to do today? What is today? Saturday…a wedding. I have to drive an hour and a half to film a wedding today. Because that’s where my illustrious film career has brought me. Caroline would be so proud. I hate working weddings when I’m single because then it’s depressing and I feel like I will never receive that type of love and I take advantage of the open bars in a negative manner. The drive to the venue is long and filled with traffic and my iPod receiver is broken and listening to my iPhone isn’t loud enough so I just have the radio and my memory of the last wedding I attended. I was with Ellory and it was a month ago. It was one of her friends from college and it was outside and beautiful and real well done and invoked nostalgia as you were there which is a really tough aesthetic to accomplish and it was just great and genuine and awful. I sat holding hands with her during the ceremony listening to the pastor try to make personal a sermon that is generic about a couple he doesn’t know. He did alright. My ex-girlfriend looked radiant and the tears that were flowing down her face were so real and perfect that I thought they were going to turn into small little diamonds as they streamed off of her face. I just wasn’t feeling the same thing as her, or seemingly anyone there. All the green grass seemed duller to me than it did to everyone else. The white dress seemed more vanilla, the candles seemed too dim. I watched Ellory dance crazily to ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry and I realized in that moment something was happening. I began to feel this severe detachment from her. I felt like she was Noah in the opening scene from ‘Muppets From Space’ and I was Gonzo and she was just closing me out while the near earth-ending flood was rising. All night I was having an internal battle between the fight for love and the fight to be away from it all, and the fight was on par with an Auburn-Georgia game in terms of heightened passions to defeat the other. There was something about a marriage that I had begun to not want that evening and I needed Ellory to know that. So I broke up with her that night and we drove home together the next morning and for the whole car ride we only had an old Relient K cd and a mix that had both Frank Sinatra and Dizzee Rascal on it. So we sat in silence. As I dropped her off she sat for a few minutes and looked at me and said “You don’t know how to handle something working out over time. You need quicker results. You don’t want a waiting period where something could go wrong. You’d rather make it go wrong before it goes wrong without you deciding for it to. I love you and I know you know this is wrong.” Then she got out of the car and walked away and she looked more beautiful then I’ve ever seen her look. She looked so poised and calm and ready. I don’t know ready for what, but she looked ready, and it made her look beautiful. So as I drive away from her house in this memory, I pull up to the wedding venue in reality. It’s a Catholic church. I’m already dreading the immense amount of ceremony that is going to take place and more importantly dreading the immense amount of times I’m going to have to move the camera up and down and up and down because Catholics have to stand and kneel and sit and repeat about 80 times an hour in a given service. It goes just as long as expected and the groom is apparently a member of a bagpipe “band” because there are men in kilts everywhere prepping for the opening of the reception, which turns out to be a 30 minute bagpipe song, which leads me to have my first Jack & Coke of the night. The DJ is playing a slew of songs that haven’t been relevant for 40 years until he finally puts on Katy Perry which leads me to my second Jack & Coke of the night. Maybe she was right about me. Maybe I just am impatient in the nervous type of way. When I was in 4th grade I quit Tae Kwon Do and skipped going to the moving up ceremony because I assumed I wouldn’t be able to break the board and get the next belt. My impatient pessimism has been a long time forming. This was different though. The thing about Tae Kwon Do, is that I really couldn’t break the board. I knew I wasn’t able to, because I didn’t care to try practicing how to do it. It was destined to fail. Ellory and I weren’t. She would lay on my shoulder and we’d listen to music and discuss the nostalgia we felt and talk about deliberating songs to be nostalgic for us in the future. We’d put on Manchester Orchestra and Cat Power and Lou Reed and know that one day we’d be nostalgic about when she’d lay on my shoulder and we listened to it. Those moments were’t just love, they were warm love. They were warm like the coffee that is left at the bottom of the pot when you made enough for three cups but only made two and left the pot on. They were warm like the lights with the creme colored lampshades that feel partly like the yellows in a Coen Brother’s film and partly like your Grandmother’s living room with the elaborate oil painting that was a retirement gift and the old fishtanks that seem to be a whole separate world of their own. They were warm like when I would touch her skin when she was asleep and she would smile because her body could recognize and distinguish my touch. This wasn’t destined to fail. But I made sure it did anyway. I have to leave the bar to go film the best man’s speech and for some reason I start tearing up at his sentimental stories that I have no attachment to whatsoever. I get to talking to the cousin of the Bride because I saw he had a Miami Heat keychain and I ask about what he thinks about acquiring Greg Oden this season and he mutters something about how he doesn’t know what I’m talking about but Lebron is awesome so I get annoyed that he’s fabricating his fandom for a team but then I realize that’s just what a Heat fan is anyway. I keep talking to him anyway, though, because I’m done filming and I have a room at the hotel so I just figured I’d stick around. We get to talking about relationships and he starts telling me about how his girlfriend of four years just broke up with him because she had feelings for someone else and how he’s still fighting to get her back and then we take a shot of Jameson and he slaps my back and says something along the lines of “You’re alright buddy” and then I start talking about Ellory. He understandably gets confused as to why we broke up and I just describe it by saying “It’s like everyone is telling me how pretty the colors are and I see in black and white.” He looks at me for a second and he starts to tear up. He then says two things that truly floor me back to back. First he says “Fight to see the color. Vision doesn’t come with your eyes closed.” I got chills and had this weird feeling like regret and nausea and frostbite mixed into one. Then he followed this statement with “Do you want to do some mescaline with me?” To which I had the same reaction but for much different reasons. I said yes. An hour later everything is wild. The dance floor and everyone on it looks like a Picasso painting. Nothing seems 3-D anymore and every color is the most beautiful color I’ve ever seen. I walk (crawl?) over to the DJ booth and start yelling at him to play ‘Hungry Heart’ and he says maybe in a little and I start screaming at him to play it now or I will let my alligator loose on him and he abides. I am alone on the dance floor and I am screaming the words to ‘Hungry Heart’ and I see Caroline come over to me in a pumpkin carriage and she says to go to the bathroom and stay there. I tell her I miss her everyday and she rubs my face with her hands and asks me why I give up so much. I have to lay low because there are bats above my head flying by and then I start crying and tell her that I don’t know. Then the Bride’s cousin is carrying me up some stairs and I realize I’ve been asleep in the bathroom for hours and he says to remember to fight for the color. Then he kisses my head which was intrusive but acceptable timing-wise and sobriety-wise. I wake up the next day and grab my wallet and that picture of Ellory falls out. That picture is warm. As I’m driving home Lou Reed comes on the radio and I get this feeling of nostalgia. Nostalgia and longing for a love that I threw away. I don’t want to push away what I think may one day push me away anymore. I think I know what Caroline meant when she said not to coast. When I was fifteen Caroline and I failed US History by three and five points, respectively. We went to the professor and asked if we could do something to fix it. He told us we had two options; We could take a summer class with him and do all the work and shoot for a higher grade, or he would give us a 65 and pass us. Caroline took the class and I took the passing grade. At the end of the summer she got her test grades back and she failed a bunch of them but saw that she somehow got a B in the class. She got a B because she tried and failed, but more importantly tried. I got a D because I asked if I could get a D. I want to try for Ellory. I don’t want to be scared to fail. I want to try and if I fail then I fail, but at least I failed with a try, not passed with a 65. I want her back, I want her warmth, I want her nostalgia. She looked so beautiful and ready the day we broke up, and I don’t think it was because she was ready to accept us breaking up, but I think that it’s because she was ready to accept me back before I knew that’s what I wanted. I think Caroline taught me what love was that night in San Francisco, and now I’ll try it out on Ellory on this night in New York. Things aren’t so black and white with your eyes open.