Hold Me in Your Thoughts, Take me to Your Dreams
It’s 2:04 AM as I start typing this, which I’ll admit takes my penchant for literalness a bit far in terms of the specifics of time.
These things can’t be helped. I am wired in such ways. I am not at fault.
Californication, on mute, is playing in the background. Warren Zevon is singing to me. The air condition is humming with the soft, relenting whirl of inevitability. The heat will be pushed back.
Here, it is still.
I’d like to say that I’m doing something deep, befitting the stillness of the night. Something large. Epic. Writerly. And I could, easily, say such a thing. It would be a lie. And not a very good one either as there is no reason to tell it. Instead, I can say truthfully that I am simply sitting here, smoking a cigarette, drifting.
I used to write in the evenings. Long, Jameson-filled nights, fueled by anger and rage and adventure mixed with a variety of self-made and procured intoxicants meant to keep the coal fires within me going until there were no words left to write. Those were good days. Or nights. Many times both, strung together across long periods of uncountable time frames.
In these moments, I can feel those days again. Driving the long stretch of the Appalachian state routes with Monte, who encapsulated much of that time during one fateful night in Alabama: “This shit makes more sense when you drink.”
Flying to San Diego for a job offer that went south and ending as I helped move office equipment out of a two-story building before the sheriff’s arrived. A fueled Seattle evening in a punk rock venue with Sick of it All, followed by a staggering night spent looking for the Green Tortoise Hostel which had become lost to me. The all-out rock party in London that ended as I walked into the middle of morning traffic, stopping all traffic so that I could catch a cab.
The stories — all my stories — replay, recycled in my head during my waking house. Pulled up in those moments when people have said or done things that would have, in a different time and place, been swiftly dealt with.
In the world I emerged from, my transformation into the person I am today is far more pronounced than those who know me now will ever truly grasp. It is odd on this side of the table. Knowing that if, for just a few minutes, the roles could be reversed.
But even back then, in the fueled up days, it was never just about that. It was all simply a means. To an end. Wherever that was.
Yet even then there were inklings, short burst of reality that never quite jogged me off my track but surely upset my trajectory enough that I landed where I am today. I always knew I would find my way back, outlast everyone around me in that world because my fuel was an escape to someplace not from someplace.
These distinctions, at the time and maybe still, are very important. Which maybe just makes me a better liar. A poser. Never fully committed. Who knows. Wherever that truth lies, I know this: those days are behind me now.
And I’m beginning to understand there won’t ever be a way to reconcile that life of a writer, the one filled with rage and confidence and bravado borne only from a dream and desire, with this life of a writer, the one filled with cafes and editing and exactness.
Those two worlds don’t fit together. They are, as I am, counter-intuitive. There is no meaningful way to construct this for others. Which is odd. And frustrating. The story that is most important to me is lost to the fickle wisps of time. The sweetness of irony.
I am 37 now. Sober, 14 months if I make it to July 11. Continuing to realize this is okay.
That other life wasn’t sustainable. Wasn’t attainable. Mythology catches up with reality in those stories. There would have eventually come a moment, one of those forks, when I would have faced a decision. And fueled, I would have taken mythology.
I realize these thoughts of mine — my writing and my addiction — are immutable objects, programmed together. This makes me different, two lives packed into one, both always a part of me.
These days when I make it deep into the night, I’m alone with that stillness. The true, tested, real stillness that allows for complete calm in the stormy seas. I am comfortable with the blog. Hank Moody. Warren Zevon. Or whatever other friends I can rustle up. Watching the Twitter stream flow and visiting my friends 140 characters at a time.
These simple things are enough for me. Because in these moments, I remember those days. Those irreconcilable, mythological days.
And I think about nothing. With a longing smile.