Dream Ramblings

[Originally written on 1.19.06]

Memories are plaguing me tonight.  As I sit here watching the Sopranos, drinking whiskey after having smoked a bowl, someone sleeps nearby and the scene brings this mind to an apartment in E-town four years ago.  The familiarity of the situation does not cease to amuse me, as does the fact that I left that asshole for what I thought was a better one and still find myself right where I was before.

The chaotic sequences of my dreams the past few days have surely been influenced by my choice of stimulus during waking hours, as the subconscious tends to pick up on that sort of thing while also manifesting fears and desires.  Here are the things that I can remember.

Last Nite: Swing music filled the air as bodies twirled around a dance floor.  Decked out in vintage attire suitable for a Hollywood film, I was in Jon’s arms and he looked just as stunning, his face unchanged by year of drug and alcohol abuse.  We danced closer than anyone else despite the upbeat tempo that continued to swell, our passionate one-on-one conversation secluded from the rest of the world.  Removed from prying eyes, we were engaged in passionate kissing, and when there was a small break between them, he inquired what I would like to do.  Upon replying, I suggested it was something not subject for public display. Then I woke up.

The Nite Before:  The Garden State was under an alien attack, War of the Worlds style with people screaming in every direction.  The neighborhood is already in run and Jon comes strolling through the rubble like a postapocalyptic warrior, shouting orders into a crackling radio before hoisting me to my feet.  Walking along the desolate Parkway, the sound of incoming fire had us on edge though he encouraged me to keep going, insisting that we had to get out of Jersey and it needed to be soon.  Adrenaline and fear kept the heart racing at a fast pace as shelter was sought, and everyone has the collective thought of I’m going to die.  At some point we emerged from our safe hiding places, and all seemed calm until some sort of craft fell out of the sky and the screaming started all over again.  Kind of glad I woke up from that one before getting stuck in it.

The Nite Before That:  On carnival grounds, wearing high heels and dressed to kill, I am excited to be seeing the Family.  The entire Outlaw Cirkus crew was gathered and seated in rows of wooden folding chairs.  Smiling faces and warm hands greeted me, as it had been a while since we saw each other yet everyone was engaged in conversation as though no time had passed.  Austin and Aaron were up front, the two of them placing a kiss on both cheeks and complimenting my appearance.  We then sat down for a variety show, though there are suddenly other people around us who are making rude comments, so the three of us decide to leave.  Unfortunately that is where I lost the dream.

For some reason that least dream brings up memories of the time I spent hanging with Jerry.  Often I spent the evenings after work sitting in his bunk and just listening to his stories.  At his point it doesn’t even matter if they were true or not, due to the fact I appreciated that he made the effort to tell them at all.  While he talked to the other workers and whatnot, I like to feel that we a different kind of connection.  Right now I miss sitting in his room, smoking a joint and watching movies.

One night while at the spot in Frederick, Jerry hatched an idea.  The bunk house was set against a hill, and there was a pair of mattresses stored in the back.  Well he suggested we take them and  prop them up on the hill, thus creating a couch.  While someone tried to discredit his idea, the rest of us set to work pulling out the mattresses and placing them as suggested.  It actually turned out well even though trying to cram everyone onto this makeshift couch was a whole other feat.  Anyway, this had been done for optimum viewing pleasure of the selected film of the evening, as Jerry had a t.v. and DVD player that he was kind enough to share with everyone so long as someone provided a movie.

That night it happened to be Swing Kids, which I purchased earlier that week at Wal*Mart out of curiosity.  The bio had piqued my curiosity: based on a true story about the rebellious youth of Nazi-Germany that just wanted to enjoy swing music, the bonds of friendship between four young men are tested when one of them two of them are recruited into the Hitler youth.  This helpful article has much more information about the whole movement, which I have found quite interesting as far as historical gangs go.  Watched it again last night on account I was just in the mood to and perhaps wanted to fill my head with swing music in the hopes of having more dreams.

For some reason I have been looking forward to going up to Clifton, perhaps excited at the prospect of getting over the awkwardness of going out by myself.  Though I had invited Jon, there was some work he had to do on the Mercury, otherwise he would have been more than happy to accompany me.  He did send me some spending cash, which really wasn’t necessary but that’s just how he is, so I sent him a mushy thank-you note in return.

Drinking the last of this whiskey and then going to step out for another smoke so I can be off to bed and get an early start tomorrow.  In two more weeks I will be moving out of here and I can’t wait.  It’s time to replace old negative memories with new positive ones, and it will be much easier when a certain someone is out of sight and out of mind.  However, I need to take care of a few things first and will begin taking care of that business in the morning.

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The “Bad” Boys

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Last night I was doing some revision work on the book I have been writing for what feels like forever now when there is a knock at the door.

It’s Shane; he came to tell me that he would not be going to prison but that he was in fact on probation.  Was certainly happy to see him which must have been evident by the huge smile on my face, and he laughed before placing a kiss on my forehead, kind of surprised I was concerned about the situation.  Then he took my hand and we were walking though the woods, talking about how much fun we had at the Court.

While Shane rattled on about some of the tattoos he had been doing, my thoughts drifted to wonder what it is that draws me to people like him, or why I care so much.  It occurred to me many years ago that I have no control over what people choose to do with their lives; all I can do is offer my friendship, undying support and an unbiased ear.  No matter how hard I try not to become too emotionally invested, I already feel as though I am too involved with him.  This is my weakness and I tend to continually be hurt by it.

As we sat on a log smoking a joint, I entertained the thought of asking him to score for me.  There is no reason I wanted to get high or why it had to be with him, but I figured if I was going to be visiting familiar territory I might as well go to the extreme.  Perhaps it was the absence of Jon and the fact I stumbled around without him, trying to figure out what direction I should take while waiting for him to return.  This had left an emptiness I was trying to fill yet no matter how much I enjoyed myself, it just was not the same.

Shane was the storm that unexpectedly rolled in on a Summer afternoon when the skies are baby blue and there isn’t a cloud for miles; the classic car that rolls up beside you on the highway representing an iconic time in Americana and bringing a smile to your face to know it is in good hands; the giant wave that comes rushing on you as you stare out at the ocean and brace yourself as much as you can even though it knocks you off your feet and there is sand that winds up in the bottom of your bathing suit, your hair tangling in your face while salt water creeps up your nose.

His eyes sparkled when he looked at me, the slightest smile on his lips as he slowly exhaled smoke and kissed my hand.  Then he made an offer that caused me to chuckle, though there was no way he could have read my mind.  We sat doing lines all afternoon, watching birds and squirrels move through the trees, tiny fluttering wings dancing along tall grass and the sun warming our skin, beads of sweat forming along our tattoos.  When we weren’t consuming drugs we were exploring the boundaries of intimacy and finding ways to bring each other pleasure without actually having sex.

Shane walked me back to the house and said he would be out of town for a few days, as he had to travel up to Irvington for someone who wanted a tattoo.  As much as I wanted to ask when I would see him again, I played it as cool as I could and just wished him a safe journey.  He kissed me at the door and gave me one of his rings, stating that if he failed to return I would at least have something to remember him by.

All I can think about is how I would not be able to handle someone I care about dropping out of my life right now.  Though I said it before, it bears repeating that this whole situations reminds me of being with Jon.  Part of me knows better than to make a big deal out of hanging with someone I like to kiss, yet that does not stop me from having feelings for him.  That is not something I can shut off whenever I want to, but at the same time I could not suffer the pain of losing someone again.

My dreams have become a stream of strange, unusual, weird, bizarre and down right fucked up images about 90% of the time; it is that blissful 10% I don’t even remember I highly welcome yet rarely experience.  This morning was one of those dreams that falls into the larger percentile of generally unexplainable oddness.  Though the location is nondescript, I sure as hell knew who I was talking to.   Though for all intents and purposes the person looked very much like Jon, the tattoos and voice belonged to Shane.  Yea, that is pretty up there on the ranks of things that don’t make sense in my dreams.  For some reason I am standing on a box so I can look in his eyes as we talk, and that makes me laugh a little considering Jon is about a foot taller than I am, and Shane has several inches on me as well.   Through the threat of tears I tried my best to convince him not to go away, though I have no clue as to where he wanted to go or why.  My hands stroked his hair; it was soft and smelled like the ocean – I said that everything would be alright as long as he stayed with me.

That is pretty much where I lost the whole scene, and yet it has been sitting in my mind since I woke up.  Even though I keep telling myself it was just a dream, I question how much I really believe that.  How often do dreams reflect things that are going on in life?  For me, it seems to occur quite often.  What eats at me the most, is that my journal feels like the only outlet I have for whatever is going on inside my head, and I fill it with all these questions that no one – including myself – can answer.  The hardest part is having to deal with it on my own, since I don’t expect anyone to “get it” and I certainly am uncomfortable discussing it with anyone I know as they will probably ask questions I cannot answer.

Since I feel as though I have nowhere else to turn, I wind up internalizing too much and then either want to run from my feelings or find something to quiet them into submission.

There are errands I need to run tomorrow in order to get documents I need for work, the one thing that seems to be going well for me in terms of getting my life straight and building toward a future that includes moving on from my current situation.  It also serves as a distraction from daydreaming about Shane and his incredible kissing abilities.

Saint James Rescue Me

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

The day after my lovely date with Jon, my neighborhood was once again visited by snow and it seemed as though Nature could not make up her mind.  Still I had to run a few errand and on the way back I got the brilliant idea to stop in the park for a quick bowl.  Now I am not going to be one of those people who say they need pot to function, but in the same sense, I have noticed that certain things change depending on whether or not I smoke.  There is no other viable explaination for why that is, and as an example, I have not had a good night’s sleep unless I have been so atrociously drunk that I passed out.  Even then I wake up several times before actually getting out of bed in the morning.  Not sure if I can actually  call this insomnia, but there are times I am wide awake when everyone else is sleeping and can easily stay up for days without realizing it.

Before “quitting” [I use that term in the loosest manner possible, due to the fact that I did not choose to quit], I would lie in bed and watch some t.v., smoke a bowl and pass the fuck out.  If I happened to wake up it was to use the bathroom but I could get in bed and fall asleep with no problems.

Another example?  Writing a 200+ page story, and not one word fell out of my head while I was sober.  Believe me, I tried my hardest but would just wind up staring at the blank paper, waiting for something to be written.  Any recent attempts made have also failed.  That is, until I had a small bowl in the park, the greens having been payment for hooking up James with that dye job a while ago.  As soon as I was done, I could not wait to get back to the house to do some writing, and that is exactly what I did.

On this day, I figured since there was not going to be much else to do, I would go out and have a quick bowl, then get back to the house to enjoy the short-lived bliss it would bring  me.  It should be obvious that smoking in or even around the house is not an option, nor am I going to risk walking though the neighborhood and being seen by someone I live with, since pot is not encouraged in the household.  There was a ranger sitting in the parking lot, so I played the Oops I Am Lost game, turned around, and made my way out.  Should have known better than to drive in the snow, because I start sliding and keep going until I make low-speed contact with a wooden barrier.  Hoping the ranger was not going to be following me, I drove out of there as fast as I could.

Laughing about it now though.  Upon returning there was some hostility in the house due to an argument I had nothing to do with.  My instinct led me to call James, as I figured I could remove myself from said situation for a while so they could sort it out between themselves.  Fast forward to arrival at James’ place.  Out of kindness and knowing that I could use something to relax, we smoked a blunt in my car and it did not take long for me to be detached from whatever had been bothering me.

Then we went inside and listened to some Link Wray and a few other tunes before absorbing Pen & Teller’s Bullshit, which is perhaps some of the funniest and brutally honest comedy I have seen in quite some time.  A few hours later I departed, thanking my most gracious host.  Suddenly I could not help myself from thinking of a way to scrape together some funds for future repeat performances, knowing it would kick start that neglected artistic part of my brain so that I could finally complete the story I began so many years ago.

Following the minor accident I had the day before, I realized that I had managed to do some damage to the front end of my vehicle.  Nothing massive, thank goodness – just knocked the headlight out of place and broke the turn signal.  Even still, I took a visit to James to get his mechanical opinion on it.  We laughed when I relayed the story of how it happened.  Fortunately, the turn signal light still worked, so I could get away with it for a while.  A new one would have to be ordered so that the broken one could be replaced. The headlight just had to be adjusted and it would be good as new, and James said he could take care of that when I returned to get my oil changed.

We hung out for a while, shooting the shit since there weren’t really any customers.  Again I was tempted to fill him in about the amorous adventure I had with Jon, and while I appreciate James’ friendship in many ways, I still find it difficult to talk about someone that no one else knows.  Bringing up just one thing would mean having to explain and fill in a bunch of back story that I am uncomfortable just handing out as useful information.  So I thanked James for his time and came back to the house to muse about my writing.

Autumn in the Garden State

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

Driving down to South Jersey never seems to go fast enough – there is always traffic and lights and bullshit, but by the time I get there none of those things really matter.  This strange feeling overwhelms me, and that smile comes back to my face.  The salty smell of the ocean fills my lungs and I forget that I am even in the same state as I was just a few hours ago.  Sand and sea stretch for miles in front of me; all I can think about is how happy I am and eagerness propels me to his door.  He is always smiling when he opens it, and then I am buried in his arms.

The rain cancelled any outdoors activities we had planned, so we opted for a sit-down dinner instead.  Let me note here that going out to eat seems like the thing to do on a Friday night.  In all honesty, there are moments where we enjoy the comfort of sitting at home with a meal we cooked ourselves, as we find the whole ritual to be quite satisfactory and obviously appreciate each other’s company.  There are also certain things which are not exactly appropriate for public that are fare easier to do at home.   However, there are other times when we are just in the mood to make a scene, which is something that Jon and I accomplish without ever really trying.

Though I am not sure what it is, people stare at us pretty much every time we go out.  While we expect it on some level because we are modified and dress in what I suppose is considered an ‘alternative’ style, it can be sort of annoying when we just want to eat some good food.  Then again, the entire situation tends to amuse us, as do the people.

Our first attempt to join the masses was at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, but the wait to be seated was 45 minutes and our stomachs would have none of that.  Undeterred, we went across the way to a Mexican joint where there was still a 30 minute wait, but we decided to stay anyway.  We went outside for a smoke and it did not seem like it took that long to be seated.

Sipping on whiskey and nibbling on the free basket of house made tortilla chips, we placed our order and took to browsing the tables while making small talk.  Jon was highly entertained by the couple seated at the table next to us, mostly due to the fact that one of their sons was more interested in sleeping than eating his food.  One of Jon’s favorite games is to go around the room and tell me things about people he can pick up just by their appearance and watching them socialize for a few moments.  Not only is is fairly impressive because he has a high accuracy rating, but I usually find myself cramping from fits of laughter as he gives his impression of what they must sound like as they go about their day doing menial things.

Eventually, after much waiting and nearly throwing silverware at the waiter to gain attention, our meals were finally delivered.  Though the food was simple, it was incredibly delicious and gave us the fuel we had been seeking.  Headed back to his place where more whiskey and other things were consumed while watching a couple of horror movies.  Later on we made our way out to the beach and star gazed for several hours.  It might have been chilly, but I had my best friend to keep me warm so I did not mind.

The following day we rolled out of bed at two in the afternoon – I went into the kitchen to boil water for tea and toast some bread.  Was in the middle of cooking eggs when Jon wandered in, a smile twitching on his lips as he made a joke about me being a good housewife.  The sky was pretty dark, clouds hanging heavy and a very low rumble in the distance.  When the storm rolled in, we sat outside on his deck to watch the lightning dance across the churning ocean, which I found to be incredibly fascinating.  Spending quality time with Jon is definitely enough to make me happy for the rest of my life.  Just another half hour, I kept thinking to myself, trying to avoid glancing at the clock.

Several hours later, I realized that it would be wise to make my way back to E-town, lest the Asshole give me shit for staying out all night and day and night, again.   Not that it is any of his business, though he seems to think because we live together I owe him a detailed log of my activities, and I would rather keep the peace for the moment until I can come up with a solid plan for moving out.

No matter how many times I make the drive to see Jon, I always enjoy it and feel though I am absolutely spoiled by gorgeous Autumn afternoons.  With these brilliant colors splashed across the trees, swinging to tunes on the AM dial [those golden oldies, rockabilly, doo-wop and whatnot], I always seem to roll out in a good mood, ready for whatever adventure awaits.

However, before heading down to my destination earlier today, I had decided to make a little stop.  After failing to be able to do something with my hair, I went to Sparks in New Brunswick.  What else was there to do with this mass of hair on my head other than to cut it down?   That’s right – I finally got myself a decent mohawk.  Oh how happy I was too!  [Currently still feeling just as good about it!]

Though I am sure that I have efficiently mentioned how thrilled I am to arrive at my destination knowing that a warm embrace awaits me, it never hurts to make a note of it again.  Excitement filled me when I entered Jon’s house – the expression on his face when I walked in with the ‘hawk thrown up was absolutely priceless.  Needless to say he paid me a lovely compliment and I felt myself blush horribly while thanking him.  Then he says that he wants me to shave his head too and I laughed because I thought he was joking.

Moments later we are smoking a joint in his bathroom and Jon urges me to go for it.  The clippers buzz to life and I wanted to weep for those glossy dirty blonde locks as they fell to the white tiled floor.  Of course then I remembered that he has the sides of his head and face tattooed and that made me smile.  Now we have matching cuts, though his ‘hawk is slightly narrower than mine.

Jon suggests that we go see a movie, so we head out and stop for a bite to eat.  Our original choice was a quick slice of pizza, but the dining  area was closed and they were doing take-out only.  Was not happy stepping in that cheese substance on the floor – it could have ruined my boots.

We wind up with a table at a steakhouse instead, noting that not as many people dine out on a Monday night as they do on a Friday night.  Anyway, the decor of that place place was a hoot – taxidermied animals and western-themed items littered the walls, and no steakhouse would be complete without some steer heads mounted on them there walls!  We had an excellent dinner and were entertained by the people watching the baseball game.

Then we headed over to the theater for Team America: World Police.  The commercials seemed funny enough, and I was in the mood for some laughing.  Who knew puppets could be so hilarious?  It did not matter that you could see the strings, or that the panthers were really black cats.  Might I also mention that puppets having sex is just ridiculous, but in a good way.

That damn song is still stuck in my head.

Our good-byes are becoming notoriously lengthy, but when do I ever want to leave?  It would seem like the obvious answer is to just move in with Jon, but our relationship has always been more complicated than that.  From the very first moment I met him, he warned me that even talking to him could put my life in danger.  That is something I accepted and generally ignored as paranoia, not because I did not believe him, but rather because in the beginning I did not see any sort of threat.  Obviously that changed and we have both received various threats during the course of knowing each other, though none of them have been carried out.  Still, we take caution and just being out together in public could be dangerous.

The worst part is that I cannot talk to anyone about this, because I feel they would think we are out of minds and do not understand the things we have experienced.  While we definitely have developed an intimate relationship, it has not gone into the territory of being a long- term commitment.  That is something I know we both want, but he hesitates because he also wants to keep me safe, even if that means we need to have distance between us.  Then again, this is not a permanent situation, and I cling onto that hope because I am so desperately in love with him.

Dear Jon

Today is your birthday and I can see you at thirty-five, a well-aged gentleman with a lifetime of stories etched on your skin, from the wrinkles on your slightly tanned faced to the tattoos that cover most of your body.  The silver streaks in your hair have expanded and dirty blonde has faded drastically to a sandy grey, yet the locks are still styled with precision and glisten with pommeade.  By now you have learned how to make whiskey an enjoyable beverage instead of fuel for spontaneous decisions, and there are no lingering thoughts of indulging in drugs.  You are thankful those urges no longer consume you and have a moment of appreciation for a life that should have ended on more than one occasion.  There are images which pass through your mind, memories of risking your life to feed that horrible adrenaline addiction, basking in the thunderous applause when you successfully escaped from the perceived leathal clutches of death.

On this prestigious day, you are dressed in a suit you have worn many times, but for some reason it fits better than it ever has.  There are probably even blood stains set deep in the fabric where no one can see, a fact that makes you chuckle as you slip on silver rings and adjust the collar of your jacket.  It is a lovely Autumn afternoon with clear blue skies and a slight chill which rustles through changing leaves on the trees that pass by as you cruise along the highway in your Chevy Nova.  After several years of driving a ’49 Mercury, you finally have the car that spawned your nickname back.  The restoration made it look as though she came straight off the showroom floor, so it was definitely worth the wait.  The smile broadens – you are filled with excitement, anticipation and a slight bit of nervousness.

It has been eight long years since we were last together to celebrate your birthday but I can still remember how much we enjoyed each other’s company.  We met up in the early afternoon, rode the train to take a stroll along the banks of the Hudson River, and then walked into a party that surprised both of us.  The expression on your face was absolutely priceless, especially when you learned who had set up the whole thing.  Of course I had no idea about any of it, though you cast a few suspicious gazes my way before an explanation was offered.  We partied on the beach and made our way to the woods where you were going to ride the Wall of Death.  At twenty-seven, you had been performing the stunt for a little over a decade and proved the level of your skill as a Death Defying Daredevil.  While you were buried in a helmet, Augustine said that he was quite proud of you and that he missed us being a Family.

A few weeks later you had an accident that would drastically change both of our lives.  If you could have done anything different, I wish you had trusted me enough to talk about what you were going through instead of drowning yourself in drugs and alcohol.  When you finally admitted that you had been injured and did not have the motivation to continue performing, I could detect how emotionally hurt you were.  As always, you encouraged me to keep Outlaw Cirkus going and said that perhaps in the future you might change your mind.  The struggle you endured was one that I had no understanding of because you spent your whole life doing one thing, and I could not imagine what it was like to have that taken away.  You assured me that you just needed time to heal, but things got much worse for you and we drifted so far apart that you once expressed you were afraid of losing me completely.  It should be obvious by all of the words I have dedicated to you that I am as loyal a friend now as I was in those days.

The last time I saw Augustine there was still something in his eyes that said he had many more years of adventure left in him.  We spoke about you a lot, trading stories about our favorite moments with you and laughing ourselves into tears.  He lingers with me as you do, though it is more difficult for me to imagine what he could look like now, as I never knew how old he was.  Things like that are arbitrary though, because I would give anything to have closure, to have proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was still out there.   Hope keeps him alive, as the thought of truly being the last of our Family is a hard fact to swallow and leaves me feeling isolated despite having good people around me.

For the first year after we laid your ashes to rest in the Atlantic Ocean, I had dreams that you were still alive, waiting for the right moment to make your return.  Each year that followed brought more realization you were gone and never coming back, which just re-opened the wounds which had formed the day I received the fateful news.  Once I swore that I saw you, but I had also spent two days celebrating my birthday and New Year’s Eve with much consumption of mind-altering substances, was lacking sleep and trying to combat the nausea because I did not want to vomit on public transportation.  Your appearance in my dreams is less frequent, but any time I see you there I wonder if you are trying to send me a message.  Maybe I am making too much of all this, but just because you are gone does not mean I will stop being your dedicated friend.  That is something I vowed to be until the end, and seeing as I am still here, I find it cathartic to write about you on your birthday.

This is my gift to you, and though it is highly personal, I do not mind sharing it with whomever wishes to read it, as they will know how truly amazing you were and that I loved you so very much.  If I could see you today as the man I described at the opening of this letter, I would be overwhelmed by happiness and find comfort in our embrace – the Hollywood Moment we were often caught up in when we saw each other after being apart for a while.  Being taller than I, you found it endearing to literally sweep me off my feet as you planted a kiss firmly on my lips.  Those familiar scents of licorice and leather would rattle old memories awake and I would find myself taken back by you, wondering how I had managed to have someone so awesome in my life.  It was a feeling we shared and part of what made our bond so strong, something that incited jealousy in others because they felt as though they could not compete with our relationship, though goodness knows why they even wanted to.  Everything that happened after the embrace was magical, even if we were just walking along the beach or sitting in a diner.  The time I spent with you was incredibly valuable and remains as some of my most cherished experiences.

Reaching thirty was a milestone you doubted that you would achieve, and for a while I hated that you were right.  At the beginning of the year I found it hard to believe that I had outlived you – just seeing those words gives me the creeps because in my mind you are not dead.  On the contrary, much like the fictionalized lives of numerous celebrities, you have been sequestered on a desert island getting your shit together and planning your glorious return.  Today you are Jonathan Aaron Ivylee Lovelace, the man that has cheated death and lived to tell the tale, the man with the appetite of a carnivorous animal, the man that feels no pain despite torturing his body.  You are a living legend yet humbled by age as you want to spend the remainder of your years doing something that you did not have a chance to when you were young.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life as someone who can fully embrace and explore everything it has to offer – you are honored and appreciated by those who knew you best, that smile never leaving your face.

While it may be harmless to have a fantasy, I also realize that I have to accept the fact it will never be anything more.  Though you certainly have never been forgotten, there is a place where you once were which remains empty.  Perhaps that is the way it is meant to be and on occasions when I am lost in my emotions, I have so many things that remind me of you it feels as though you are still here.  As always I love you and want you to know that you will remain in my heart forever.

Totaled Teeth

There are moments in life that stick in the mind for a variety of reasons, perhaps to serve us in the future to prevent making certain choices due to a bad experience.  Often these things come up when sitting with friends and sharing stories, animated voices and gesturing hands assisting in recreating scenes while laughter fills the room.  Being someone who has listen to more tales than I ever thought I would, it seems strange that I have my own assortment of experiences which may not have been pleasant at the time they occurred.  The fact that I have conquered so many obstacles and found strength in myself instead of relying on others is something I am quite proud of, though I am reminded that I also had amazing people who helped me when I was in need.

Four years [and three days] ago I came to terms with the fact that I had a problem with alcohol, which was something I had access to and consumed at a young age.  It was a social crutch to drown out anxiety that often led to making a fool of myself, getting sick, hangovers and making empty promises to have more control.  Aware that there were relatives who also had issues with alcohol abuse, I joked that drinking was in my genes yet mostly did it at home or a local club.  When I was hanging out with Jon, there was not as much pressure to do what everyone else was doing, and he preferred whiskey or moonshine, both of which I accepted when I wanted to.  The point is that for several years I consumed alcohol for a number of reasons; sometimes I got sick and others I had the time of my life.

Moving to Philadelphia in 2006, I was relieved to be on my own yet hit with that realization in a way which was not expected.  Having limited funds, I decided that snacks and packs of beer were a good way to unwind after long days of fighting through traffic to seek out jobs or go to interviews.  Then came the stress of moving after finally feeling as though I had just settled in, followed by that evening with Jon where we parted ways with me knowing he was madly in love with me but had to deal with his own issues before he could seriously pursue a relationship.  During his absence I had a a really traumatic experience that was treated with drinking, room mates that enjoyed and encouraged partying, and generally had a hard time dealing with overwhelming depression.  One night I had a bad time with a bottle of vodka which brought me to realize I had to face reality instead of hiding in an alcohol induced stupor.  That was the plan anyway and it went alright for a couple of weeks until I get the news that Jon was dead.

While it could be easy for me to use that as a scapegoat for any of the substances that were consumed while I grieved, that does not mean I openly talk about it because I recognize that it was addictive behavior.  Over the next few years I continued to drink on a frequent basis but did not have many incidents of being sick and figured that I found the right level of moderation.  After ending a relationship that should have never been, I moved into a house with a friend and wanted to straighten things out so I could support myself.  Eventually I started dating said friend and drinking became a regular activity, though I tried to regulate my intake and often watched the person I loved become highly intoxicated, which did not always go well.  The point is that alcohol was a presence it seemed difficult to ignore, but I still felt as though I was using it and other substances to escape from things I did not want to deal with.

On August 20, 2008, I had been watching the news and they declared the day was ranked among the Top Ten Most Beautiful Days of the Century, which compelled me to get dressed up with the purpose of wandering the city to enjoy just being outside.  It was also to avoid being around people who were going to be drinking a bottle of whiskey, which I was currently avoiding since there had been night where I had too much and got really sick.  Conditions were perfect: blue sky, no humidity, low temperature and a gentle breeze.  A friend of mine was working at a bar on South Street and invited me to come have a drink on her.  The walk from my house was awesome – people populated every sidewalk table outside restaurants.  As soon as I get to the bar my friend gives me a margarita, we talk for a while and make fun of Kinky Quizzo.

Noted here that I saw someone I recognized but decided against engaging in conversation for personal reasons.  At that point a bunch of people who work at one of the local tattoo shops come in, I was in the middle of my second drink and then they are telling me I have to do shots with them.  Since I did not want to mix liquors, I decide that tequila is an acceptable shot despite having never really drank it much before.  Everyone is chatting, laughing, drinking and having a great time.  Three shots and three margaritas later I am really enjoying myself but also ready to go, so I get up from the bar and head into the bathroom.  One of the tattoo artists offers to call me a cab when I return, which was unexpected but appreciated.  In the cab I am completely lucid and recall most of the ride, though do not remember getting out.  Then I am in my house, climb up the stairs and pass out.

Wake up from a bizarre dream I was in the middle of having and then fumble my way to the bathroom.  Something compels me to look in the mirror, and that was when I realized my teeth were broken.  After a moment of being sick in the toilet, I notice my left knee is slightly scraped.  Went back to the mirror to survey the dental damage – there is a corner of the right central incisor missing, the bottom of the left central and lateral incisors is completely gone, nerves aware of being exposed.  There is a tiny bit of blood on my upper lip and a bruise on my cheek under my left eye.  Then I see that my lip ring is gone, and I figured that I fell somewhere, causing the captive ring to hit my teeth.  There is a bead shape chip in one tooth to support the theory, but I am not concerned with how it happened because I was in so much pain.

My friend stopped by later that day with my phone because it had accidentally been left at the bar, and said the people who bought me shots apologized for getting me so drunk.  She mentions checking on me and said I seemed okay, though I was not sure if she had seen me fall.  Having to explain the whole thing to my father was quite awkward because he could not understand what happened and I had a piece of my memory missing. The fact remained that my teeth were broken and I could barely eat, so I made an appointment with a local dentist and began the process of getting them repaired.  Over the next few weeks, I had a root canal, my teeth ground down, temporary teeth that made me feel really self conscious and finally three crowns replaced the damaged ones.  It was quite expensive since I had no insurance and I went through a tremendous amount of pain.

The photo above was taken a few days after the first part of the root canal, because I felt that I needed to be able to smile and laugh about the situation to prevent myself from getting caught up in depression.  Along with the details I have shared, it serves as a reminder of how a situation can get out of hand, even wen one does not have such an intention.  Though I became aware of how dangerous alcohol could be, I continued to drink but imposed restrictions to prevent any further incidents.  Obviously it has been a long struggle, though I can say that I no longer have a desire to consume alcohol.  Hanging out at clubs or bars was never really my thing, and when I am at home I can have one or two drinks and be satisfied.  Do I consider myself recovered?  In a sense yes, because I do not depend on booze to have a good time and generally find those who drink in excess to be highly entertaining.  That is not a role I want to fill, and while I will likely never be completely sober, at least I have control over my intake of substances but do not allow them to rule me.

In Your Head

Recently I was reunited with a slew of items I had left in someone’s basement upon moving out over a year and a half ago.  Long story short, I have been spending some time reading old journals, because I always like to see how much my life has changed and find a sense of pride in how well my writing has evolved over the years.  Among the entries that are faded due to being written in pencil and doodles that fill up most of the margins, there are works of prose that have been inspired by or dedicated to my late friend Jon, with a few that were written from his perspective long after his death.  These words haunt me on occasion, as they are things he had either said to me or jotted down on random pieces of paper when the mood to do so struck him.  While the memories can cause a variety of emotions to fill me when reading these works, I find myself compelled to share them in the hopes that someone out there will enjoy them as much as I do.

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Heroin-kissed veins cleansed of sin
Shots of whiskey to silence voices within
Lines of cocaine to numb the pain
In the end, shit’s always the same
Can’t run or hide from my fears
But I can close my eyes and disappear

Shot after shot; line after line
Needle in my arm, time after time
Throw me a bottle, ‘cos I’m going full throttle
Drinking down whiskey and tears

Another sleepless night, body feeling cold
Demons come to taunt me; it’s getting old
Lonely soul in the desert, looking up at the stars
Thousands of miles on the road to bury the scars

Racing down a one-way track with the devil
Light a joint and put the pedal to the metal
Nitro-burning rat rod heating up the asphalt
There is no coming back if I get caught

“It is clear that now is not your time
But one of these days, you will be mine”

High-octane engine waiting to stall
Paranoid that one day I would fall
A victim of this blackened, broken heart
My life was meant for ruin from the start

Heroin-kissed veins cleansed of sin
Shots of whiskey to silence voices within
Lines of cocaine to numb the pain
In the end, shit’s always the same
Can’t run or hide from my fears
But I can close my eyes and disappear

Shot after shot; line after line
Needle in my arm, time after time
Throw me a bottle, ‘cos I’m going full throttle
Drowning myself in whiskey and tears

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West coast sunset painted on a postcard
Faded colors and tattered corners
Too many miles away from this tired body
But right at my fingertips when I sleep
Thousands of grains of sand under my head
Powdered mirror twisting my reflection
Atlantic Ocean roaring in the distance
Tonight I am flying among the stars
Far above the cold boardwalk
Into the valley of sun and tan skin
Palm trees and sparkling blue waves
Don’t want a California girl
Fake friends that are dead and gone
Never needed their empty shells
My weary soul aches for rest
Another round of lines to numb the pain
Reaching for that picture perfect sunset
Bury it deep in the dry sand once more
Alongside hopes and dreams of my youth
Take that long hard road instead
Lonely miles that build up sorrow
What if I don’t make it past tomorrow?

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A cocktail of mud and blood
dripping down his tattooed face
A young man in the fight of his life
where failure meant disgrace

A rebel consumed by the blues
who struggled to walk the line
and became lost deep in love
A legend ahead of his time