It was in the between years when I functioned best.
Those chunks of sticky time that aren’t really story worthy. Yet still somehow remain stubborn enough to fester in these later years. They were an unstable foundation of mortgaged mediocrity that I knew was poisoning me. Killing me slowly in measured servings of bland suburban nothingness. Because the American dream only really works if you are sleeping. And everyone surrounding me was dutifully tucked in, on the clock, and snuggled deep in their 401(k)s.
But I almost never sleep. So I saw it all. Like a map inside my head. The pitfalls and overlapping social implications. The selling out when certain lines intersected. The consequences of betting bad on desperate odds– it was worth it for the thrill. Because losing was still better than being bored.
There was death; there was achievement. There was dependency; there was celebration. There was being used; there was lots of using. Of a lot of different demons. By a lot of different people. Even by the village that was supposed to have helped foster and support me. But who instead merely congregated only long enough to point their fingers and laugh. And slam doors in my face when I crawled back out of these streets seeking an undeserved handout.
There were encounters with the law. And hospitals. Psych wards and cemeteries. Strange countries on stranger continents. Always looking for the deeper meaning; always looking for a grip. Scrambling for any viable foothold as the time ran out. And the prescriptions became more difficult to fill.
There were times when I managed belief. And others when I was simply a vacuum. Strange memories of nervous nights that only snap into focus when I really concentrate. Which doesn’t happen much anymore. Because the burden of aging exhausts me in ways I never anticipated. And I am so very tired.
But, we are all so very tired. So I am neither unique, nor interesting. At best, I am merely another footnote. At worst, another pointless parenthetical thought caught between the brackets.
I loved, foolishly. Some might even argue recklessly. But, I only ever wanted to be wanted. I was desperate to be even a slight priority in someone’s equation. Even though I was never fully equipped to comprehend it. My brain just isn’t wired that way. So I was left unsolved. And riddled with mistakes.
I filled the gaps and obscured the miscalculations with clever words. And stinging humor. Hiding behind the smiles of others since it was easier than admitting fault. Because I have failed; I am a failure. By every meaningful benchmark. And, that is okay.
Not everyone gets to win. But I did my best.
My love may have been foolish. But it was always genuine. And out-loud. Because that was the only way I knew to properly function. It could not have been any other way. Because I could never tolerate the fake.
The tragedy is that no one wanted the love I had to offer. Some tried. But for only moments in time. It never really stuck. Or mattered much when weighed against other obligations. Or expected achievements.
I was a temporary passionate distraction; I was an unhealthy complication. One better cut out and isolated for the metastasized threat I represented. A romantic conundrum kicked to the curb before the feelings became too real. And end up polluting. Because that makes things messy. And most hearts could not cope with the roguish disorder with which I am seemingly afflicted.
I am damned by virtue of my own creation; I am forever cataloged by my raging inconsistencies. I will never have a home; I will never know love. Not the type that can actually sustain me, anyway.
All I can do is walk across the face of a flyover city that I hate. Sit beneath a flickering streetlight long enough to write this. Maybe finish the bottle before furthering the retreat comprising one scuffed boot forced in front of the other.
Because who knows what that next street will bring.
And, I’ve always been a sucker for a good story. Especially if there is a happy ending. No matter how slim the odds of it actually happening.
Sometimes, you just have to keep walking.
Even if it is alone.