05/15/10 Friday evening is just alright

And I DON’T  mean that in the best of all possible ways.

Tonight, Chris and I felt too lackluster about dinner prospects to make a real decision, so we ended up at McDonald’s — an all-too-easy choice in these financially leaner times.  We each had a burger and fries and a soft drink — all impossibly large, because that’s what you do when you go to Mickey Dee’s.

Then we came home so that Chris could doze on the couch and I could veg in front of the computer.  What we really came home to do is an unknown quantity.  Neither he nor I had  a clear plan when we came home, we just knew it was too early to go to the birthday party we’d been invited to for one of my coworkers.  So anyway, Chris lays down in front of the TV and dozes off, while I perform routine maintenance on our PC so that hopefully it will again be something other than slower as hell.

While I am watching the computer do it’s thing, I mull over the evening’s options in my mind.  Go to the liquor store and buy a bottle for the party.  Or buy a bottle for A. (the birthday boy).  Or skip the liquor store, because it really doesn’t feel like much of a drinking night, and pick up a beer to be social.  Or pick up a beer and give it to Andrew for his birthday.  Or let Chris sleep, while I stare at the screen and engage in endless mental masturbation about the loose ends in my life right now.  Or I could obliterate my mind however temporarily (while  short circuiting the mental masturbatory sequences) with meaningless porn and some surreptitious JO.

Or I could do nothing, because it’s really starting to feel  like that kind of night.

So about 10:40, I finally decide that we may as well go to the party, if for no other reason than because Chris needs a night out — and come to think of it, so do I.

I am finding, as time goes on, my walls are coming down and I am feeling ever more social.  I now recognize that however blunt and ugly a point he makes of it, Chris is basically accurate in characterizing me as a terrible friend — not in the sense that I am openly hostile or dismissive but rather that I am dismissive and inattentive to the needs of others.  Of course, the less charitable way I could look at his approach is that he dotes on his friends and smothers them with his attention, and this makes it difficult for anyone to get to close to him.  I also feel this pressure — and equally, his disapproval of my asocial, slightly dismissive attitude towards being “social”.

So, anyway, as time passes, I am finding that more and more I actually crave the companionship I have avoided for most of my life.  In short, I want friends and have, in my own fumbling, stumbling way, been working to earn them.

I have a friend whose antisocial tendencies once made her seem glitchy.  I see how so many of my friends (casual though they may be) who also knew her regarded her as an “odd bird”.  She’s really cool, and a fascinating person, they all agree, but she’s so private about how she spends her time that I wonder if she let anyone in at all.  I fear that I might some day be regarded as that rarest of rare birds — the solitary traveler who seemingly needs no one but in the end, has only the slightest of impacts on the lives of those around them.  I’m weary of walling myself off, of maintaining a constant firewall, lest some unfortunate soul make it past my missile defense system and pierce my heart with their presence.

I also see the terrible burden A’s solitary habits put on him in the end.  He accomplished everything he could dream of until he had his heart broken by the girl he dropped out of college to follow to California.  Forever after, he seemed to put fitness and drinking and substance use ahead of most things.  He also kept to himself.  He was a kindred spirit.

As was poor W, a friend who ended up hanging himself in his own sling, which he had put up for sexual purposes.  W. also worshiped at the altar of fitness, having kicked heroin, only to replace it with biking and running (to the tune of 100’s of miles a week of each).  It’s odd to think that three of my most influential early Memphis friends were all loners who shrived to keep the world at bay — and the two who are deceased both died alone.

So getting back to this evening, we go to party, having stopped by the Tiger Mart on the way to pick up a big bottle of Stella Artois to share, and it is a brightly lit bare concrete porch on the front of a giant stone duplex near the corner of Poplar and North Willett in Midtown.  The whole time we are there it’s just people sitting, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer in the bright light.  The weed smokers retreat to the comparative dark privacy of the public sidewalk down by the street!

After an hour or less, we say our goodbyes and go on to the Smoking Caterpillar to meet M. and J. and check out the scene.  When we arrive there, five people are out front smoking cigarettes and talking and another ten to fifteen people are inside.  Only two guys are dancing and most of the women only join in sporadically and mostly with each other.

Though G. is the DJ, even his musical skill can’t resurrect the dead and I find myself dosing off in a chair by the side.  I spend most of my evening contemplating things I really shouldn’t — aspects of my life that I find most disappointing, for instance, or the ways in which I could have had a better life, if only I could find the forward momentum to escape my torpor and lethargy.  I also find myself considering how much of a dead-end “the Scene” seems to me right now, as a lifestyle, and how I REALLY hope that the Universe has something greater in store for me than this when I’m forty (which is in three short years, by the way).  I find myself feeling as though I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and lost myself down the rabbit hole, instead of taking as long as it takes away from the fray of the party to get my REAL life together so that I can live out the dreams I once cherished.

Instead, at thirty-seven I find myself bored to tears by a half-empty room and loud music, seriously questioning whether I know any longer what my dreams were, let alone where they are now.

After forty-five minutes or an hour of this torment, we drive home.  On the way, Chris comments that the evening could best be described as lame on all counts.

On this we both agree.

Life in Southern California is Like No Other

21 January 2000 Friday ~8:55 pm

“One of the oddities of life in Southern California was the sense of timelessness that set in.  There were no real seasons in California and each day was about like the last one.  People were probably startled out here to find that they’d aged.”

— from Small Vices by Robert B. Parker, p. 217

22 January 2000 Saturday ~early AM

I love being home with my parents, but it makes me kind of sad just the same.  I guess being here reminds me all too much of the brevity of life, of how my parents and I have aged,  separately.  Being in Atlanta makes me yearn for some aspects of my younger life.  I want to ride through the quiet night with my brother at the wheel, to see a movie or hang with some friends.  I am also reminded of my high school sadness and depressions, of my nights of lonely driving, taking endless wrong turns, stretching one more Pink Floyd track or WREK evening into the early dawn.

My sense of loss is proportionately greater here as well.  When I’m home, like no other time, I feel trapped in a time warp — a place where time never unloops, and it is always 1988 or 1989.  Highschool was a lonely time for me, and I think I’m seldom so reminded of this as when I am at home.

I’m listening now to the demo that my brother’s band put together.  I am reminded of nothing so much as my nights alone, out taking in shows here as a teenager.

I love my parents, and I value my chance to be home with them — but, but, BUT this place brings up entirely too many sad, painful memories for me to stay here for very long.

I’m here not even two days, and already I’ve returned solidly to the sad, chaotic, lonely time of my high school existence.