Run Away From Me

There is this guilt that piles up from who knows where. It billows and brews and bubbles to the surface whenever I feel like I am making strides. And to be honest, I am not sure I could live without it. It honors my name and fashions my attire. Call it what you will, but it has become an appendage I have no ability to amputate. I am stuck with this guilt. 

My guilt is transformative and fluid. It flows from being two hands pressing in on my temples to an earthquake under the feet to a black hole pulling me in. And sometimes, on those nights where I can’t move my body from my bed, I smile. I smile at how there is no where for me to go, no need for the French army to save Toledo. My guilt is a bully, but no more than the demons that haunt Theo Decker.  

I often find myself losing my thoughts in some headphone-induced coma. I find myself scratching the surface of the black clouds, gliding my hand over their menacing fluff. I let the singers sing me to sleep, lolling my feelings into whisky numb. It is an odd notion to consider the insignificance of the clouds to the stars, but that is how I feel in relation to the words and chords that hold my hand as I scour the trapeze. I’ll get across. 

If you close your eyes, just for a couple seconds, you can picture the guilt swelling in as if on a conveyor belt. You can picture the birds fleeing the onslaught, calling to each other to spread the message: we must go. And there I stand, as the world turns around me, chest out, chin back, hands outstretched at my waste, feet cemented to the earth. In that moment, I try to remember that I am lying in my bed. I try to remember that this entire dream is a whispering ghost, that my guilt is nothing but a whispering ghost. 

I run through them like traffic through an E-ZPass and I’m not sure what I’m dying for. Jack served well enough, but he’s a keg-stand who hides behind a mix of Mickey and Ian from Shameless. It’s certainly out of my strike-zone, but when one side of the coin is not working, you flip it over. We connected on adulthood false-starts and collapsed under adulthood consequences. We could cry and laugh and hug and fail together. But Jack and I are a foundation built upon quicksand. So as he left this morning, I knew there was no return in store. I’m okay with that.  Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. 

Grasping at Air: Youngstown

“Them smokestacks reachin’ like the arms of God,

Into a beautiful sky of soot and clay.”

 Looking back on what was, it becomes quite clear that although you believe something is fixed in stone, there will always be a force to come along to change what was so concrete. The Rust Belt stands as a testament to all that will change. Why do we blindly accept the notion that inevitability has no bearing on our believed static position? I falter under the notion of change so I participate in the Russian roulette of conscious ignorance.  That ignorance came back to bite me. I engaged in the false hope that perhaps I’d be more important than the ultimate goal. I lost that bet.  

 “Well my daddy come on the Ohio works,

When he come home from World War Two.

Now the yard’s just scrap and rubble.

He said, ‘Them big boys did what Hitler couldn’t do.’”

 Some of the most poignant moments of my lost time were spent experiencing another world: the time you took me to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to rest my ears on the culture and my eyes on the past, or the afternoons spent gazing over the expansive, Appalachian horizon from the back of your mother’s home. Those are the moments I hold so tight to now. Yet, as safe as I felt in those instants, the vulnerability of ambition always came to haunt me. You chose a future of pictures with me cut from the film.

 “Once I made you rich enough,

Rich enough to forget my name.”

 I can stand to begin the process of filtering the good memories from the bad. However, it is muddy work. When you’ve invested so much effort into an enterprise, just to see outside forces wreak havoc, you realize the human toll is greater than the products being lost. I craft experiences from the earth, but you sold out yourself to foreign ambition. Now I’m left with a rusted steel mill and some old memories.

 “When I die I don’t want no part of heaven,

I would not do heaven’s work well.

I pray the devil comes and takes me away,

To stand in the fiery furnaces of hell.”

The Shitfaced Satire

J,

It is rather daunting finding one’s self disclosing confidential timidities behind a keyboard at ten o’clock on a Friday evening. The glass of whiskey is never farther than a reach and a grasp away. Yes…daunting indeed.

Well, we might as well make this clear right off the bat: I’m gay. Okay. Moving on.

But wait; perhaps we should pause for just a moment longer…

Okay. That feels about right. Now we can move on.

Why might I be divulging this to you at ten o’clock on a Friday evening with whiskey placed so ideally in front of my chest, between my outreached arms, and in front of my keyboard? It is because I was blown off tonight. Yes…blown off. Cast aside. Set adrift. Bounced out of bounds without even a dive to save my legality. My boyfriend (I have one of those…because I’m gay) sent me a wake-up email informing me that it was Girls marathon weekend with bestfriend. Which means he is either trying his hand at joining the Philly Jacks or he is actually slopping around his apartment, smoking a bowl, bitching to the best friend about Ben’s sex life (re: our sex life), while Girls plays in the background. Because, well, you know just as well as I that Autre Ne Veut is perfect sexi-time music, but certainly unacceptable Sex In the Philly music.

So here I sit: alone, pitiful, mulling over my next move. My insecurities aside (our sex life is just fine, I assure you); I find my state utterly inconceivable. I have not had a Friday alone in months and it is an uncompromisingly underwhelming state of being. Which is why I’ve entered the realm of internet soap-boxing with said webzine-scribe-wannabe-status to form something I’d rather the kids at school (did I mention I’m a high school teacher… English… and sometimes Social Studies on my ideal days) never lay their eyes on.

So allow my indulgences further…you may just get pictures next time (but never of the boyfriend…that’s a story for another whiskey session).

 Your befuddled mendicant,

 M

I’m Not a Different Man

You know, there is an odd region of my brain that feels rather guilty about (a) sleeping with someone on the first date, (b) thinking the entire time, “I plan on never seeing this person again once I walk out the door tomorrow morning,” and (c) realizing that these feelings are regulated to only an odd region in my brain. And while I can’t say that I’m necessarily proud of my actions, I can say that I claim ownership of my actions. I knew what I was getting into but I didn’t know if I wanted to do it.

 I’ve been in this predictably heart-broken state for two weeks now. A state that never finds itself in the forefront of my mind but always seems to pop-up right as I am rounding a corner. I nearly bump into the broken-heartedness, swerving just to avoid it so that I can continue my pace. On Saturday night Garret turned to me and prodded, “You’re not over your ex, are you?” I lied, obviously.

I did everything in my power to change the subject once he brought up anything personal. I did not have any intention of becoming attached. I levied that it would be easier to dismiss Garret as a fling if I were able to maintain a safe emotional distance. Besides, everything he did and said reminded me of how much he wasn’t what I still yearn for. So as I walked out his door yesterday morning, into the cold, January morning sun, without an ounce of sleep to help carry me the twenty-block walk home, I decided never to see Garret again but to do everything in my power to see Shawn one last time.

I get this uncanny feeling every so often that I am spinning around in a whirlpool…never drowning but never floating. Perhaps it is this perpetual state of quagmire that has got me so lost for hope. I can pen every list of goals, touch every bit of plans, but I never quite move forward. It is a retrograde of desire and limitations. I am stuck and there is no way around it.

 So here I type: blasphemous, conspiracy, introspective type. Words with little meaning beyond my own consciousness, and perhaps, for the slightest of the few, meaning for the oddity among us as well. But are my pros descriptive enough to be translated back into the accepted vernacular? No. How about for the lady rambling down the street dragging her rather pitiful excuse for a dog by a collar of pho-metallic cross-stich? No. The white gentleman completely lost in his transitory world of Daft Punk and bronzed chinos? Forget about it. You see, my words are also in this whirlpool, careening every which way, but ultimately in a uniformed direction. Sure they will, as I, touch the sand. Yet, what comes after? Does the water eventually cover all suggestion of our spinning? I want to find out, but I’m too scared to try. Retrograde indeed. 

The Advocates

I fell in love at first order. Well, more like at first beer, but never the less, the point remains: I fell in love. As sure as the sky is blue and the Delaware flows into the Atlantic, the nerves flutter throughout my body and I come to realize that his mere scent sends me into a trance-like state. I am lucky and scared. But what I am not is unsure.

So many Friday nights have been spent traversing the rails on that 20 mile commute into the city to see him. So many Sunday afternoons have been spent repeating that ride, but with an inexplicable ache. Yet, for all the bane I endure when those train doors open in the undergrounds of Market East, I know that his welcoming, Friday evening sly smile will continue to send shudders down my spine. To others he may be bombastic and proud, an unapologetic academic and an unquestioned isolationist. Yet, get him covered with a blanket on the bed, while the snow meanders down to the ground, and his boyish stare hints at a quieter soul. It is a soul yearning for comfort. A soul I have become attached to and infatuated with.

He’s the protagonist of his favorite novel and I’m riding shotgun. To many we are friends, but with every secret resides a purpose. Our purpose is to each other. I’m not sure I ever had a choice. He was a gentleman from first sight; I swooned and became enthralled. His airy attitude and distant eyes foreshadowed a tortured hand. I have always been one for the injured. Here I am, ready to suture their being, providing rest for their weary bones. Yet, the consequences seem riddled with hyperbole and I need a nice face-plant-in-the-dirt from now and again. Which is why I keep crawling my way back to the bright lights, as if fate has a grasping hand on my prescribed path. He makes me work the detour. He tests my inhibitions and drives me into crazed confusion.

We hold no flag and lead no revolution. We’re happier hiding behind our mothers’ skirts, focusing on our own customs versus the mores of the many. But my anxiety is worrisome. My fate criticizes me. My love confuses me. Where will I be when the South calls? What is this academic albatross that devours our very being? Is it that his route exited long before I hinted at the next right? My fears are sometimes the loudest aspect of this relationship, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Everything is right around the corner. Everything.