Friday, July 25, 2008


At some point I have self destruction in every relationship I have been in with a woman. I fell apart and wanted to be taken care of. Thats one theory I have been told. I prefer to think they were all two timing whores. It's not pretty language but it's an easier myth to buy than to see my part in things. Besides, what do those guys twice my age and a wall full of degrees know anyway?
My guy is a decent man. He doesn't remember in detail, but I can't decide if it's bad memory, being too busy, or he doesn't care. I think he cares but he is too busy. We talk. He writes prescriptions for sleeping pills and anti-depressants. I tell him about my quest to become an adult. Thats literally what we talk about. It kinda feels like that might be common, but there it is; I don't feel like an adult.
It's not what I thought it would be. I never felt it happen. It is probably a dumb thing to reveal. Did you feel it? What was the moment or action that brought it on? Did it feel like that, like a switch flipped or something just seemed right? What is it? I didn't feel it. For better or worse degrees, I have not grown up. Not in the way I imagined. Instead, this feels like some strange land I wondered into by mistake as I was just walking along. Things are familiar yet the colors are drab. Wonder is scarce and responsibility is heavy. I am a child in a mans body. A broken body, slowed down by years of that someday I will eat right diet and late night food. Still, I thought it would be different. I thought things would be easier because I would be an adult and adults know how to handle stuff. Nope. Turns out I am not alone in this feeling. Adults don't know any better than kids, really. Adults just have more stuff that can go wrong and more pressure to get things right. At some point I think you realize that school was complete bull shit. The book stuff comes in handy and socializing is important, but everything we were taught about sharing, respecting others and playing fair is not how the world operates. Sure, you can be the good guy and do all those things. I am not saying people don't. I think most of us live in a world of compromises. Nothing is ever black and white. Nothing. There are shades to every choice and every choice leads to several other branches that lead to still more doors. Maybe thats not right either. It feels like possibility becomes a precious resource that starts to dissolve over time. And here is the thing I know about me; I know what the right thing to do is every time. I really do. Sadly, I only chose to do the right thing about 45% of the time. I am not talking stealing or breaking store windows in anger, I am talking about those little white lies we all use to navigate our way in social situations or the short cut you take at work and hope people don't notice. It's the difference between sitting down at the computer and working on my act or downloading more porn to what I can only imagine is a very sticky hard drive at this point in my computers life. Being an adult seems to take place between what is said and what is not said. It is knowing how to read what takes place in that intersection that makes you a successful adult. At a certain point you realize the things you wanted to have or do are not going to be. I am never going to be a singer song writer now. For a large portion of my life there was a vague idea that was always present inside me that ultimately that is what I would be. I had the guitars, had 60 or so songs and even recorders. I haven't touched my guitar in about a year. When I think of that, it makes me sad. All those years I spent driving around doing comedy from one shitty location to the next shitty location, I would not have survived if it wasn't for my guitar. Countless hours were spent in run down hotel rooms writing songs I couldn't play for anyone. Instead, I just told jokes rather than really tell people what I felt. But that dream, that idea that I would eventually over come that brand of stage fright and start to play in front of audiences never came to be. Each new years that came and went carried with it the resolution to try and play at a open Mic. It never happened. I never did it and now the guitar sits in the corner as a symbol of something I can't think about for too long or I feel the trap of regret spring on me. That becomes a regular emotion, regret.
What are you suppose to tell children? You can't sit them down and tell them that life is not going to be the adventure you think it's going to be. When parents give you the realistic speech, as it came to be known in my house, it doesn't register. I didn't think I knew better than my parents, I just knew I didn't want what they had. I thought that would be enough. I thought that alone would create a life different from what their lives had become. My life is nothing like my parents, but like them, I have invisible baggage that is not always easy to claim. Everyone must. That is part of growing up. Life is not bad or boring for me, it just isn't the shape I thought it would be when I had the luxury of not knowing any better. Not knowing has saved me from being crushed. Sometimes. Not knowing has also launched me into whole decades that turned out to be vast detours I had to back out from. Stand-up comedy was one of those. Not knowing how hard it was going to be and not knowing the amount of self I would pour into it, prevented me from ever thinking realistically about it. I still think there is a chance I could be a star in it. I don't know, maybe that idea will someday rest with the guitar in my room. Until it does, I will keep doing it though. Too much of my identity is wrapped up in it now to ever really stop. Drugs. That was something I had to back out of more than a few times and still don't fully have the entire situation under control. By that I mean, the craving to be else where without actually moving makes drugs a powerful force in every adults life. This is San Francisco. I can't go a day without smelling pot drift across my path somewhere. The very first time I smoked pot I thought to myself, now I understand why there are drug addicts. That scared me enough to not try it again for a long time. When I did pick it back up again in my middle 20's, it lead to doors I have since tried to never knock at again and profound grief in how it dissolved me. Pot really was a gate way. I told a friend once that what I liked most about it was the way it made me feel like a kid. It did. When I was a boy, I loved the borders of paintings and pictures. I could sit and look at them in books or on school walls and what really fascinated me was the implication of everything that happened outside the frame. We were only looking through a small square window into another world. When I first got high, I felt like all that went on just past the picture frames was coming into focus. Its a weird way of explaining it I suppose, but it was a potent sensation I reached into again and again only to come back with empty hands. Cynicism became a shell I lived in. Still do to a slightly lesser degree, but like a hermit crab, I wear it on my back and scurry awkwardly into it when trouble shows up. Hard to say what exactly built such a thick insulating shell, but I don't blame any one person or event for it. Maybe it is like an emotional calcium deposit that naturally builds up over time. The thing that seems the hardest to resolve as an adult are the loves that ended. When i look at my early 20's, I see a man who was heart broken over the loss of a girlfriend. That feeling, more than anything else defined who I was for a very long time. What replaced her was another loss. What replaced that girl was all my reaching into borders. That blew a few years. When I met Sam, I had resolved myself to being alone. I wasn't sad at this thought or mournful anymore. I felt strangely OK with the idea and felt a certain comfort even freedom in it. You know when you hear, don't look for love and you will find it? This is the state of mind I think people are talking about. It wasn't that I had given up, I finally felt comfortable with who I was and what my situation seemed to be. That felt very adult. That was also the moment a beautiful girl showed up in my life who continues to haunt me with what if. What if, what a fucking useless wish what if turns out to be. You beat it and beat it and the very thing you don't want to see again just falls out with all the shrapnel of any bomb going off in your face. More than any other expression, what if seems to be where much of my adult life has unfolded. After all the self help books, therapy, programs, girlfriends and professional successes, what if is a living thing that you can only hope to diminish. One part of this has dropped away from my thinking. The idea that anyone or anything is "normal" now seems ridiculous to me. Normal is societies greatest lie. It is a standard that we are all pushed toward as children but come to find out later in life is a convenient myth. Normal doesn't exist. I doubt if it ever did.
Somewhere in all this is an adult. Maybe only in age, but I am an adult. Funny, I didn't think it would feel like this at all.


Dean said...

Good luck on your continuing journey from "What if" to "What is"

:: tk :: said...

I got to your page from Kamau's site.

You sound like someone I'd like to have a conversation with. But since I don't actually know you, I'll resort to an interweb monologue instead.

When I was a kid, being an adult meant finally getting to a point of doing what I wanted to do and love doing for a living (teaching literature at a high school) and living independently.

Now, I'm there, exactly where I hoped to be when I fantasized about growing up when I was a 17-year-old. Now what?

Now, I am prone to stressing out about getting grading and course reports done. I have to consciously resurrect my 17-year-old self and sustain her vivacity. Reading The Little Prince a couple of months ago helped (I recommend it, based on what you've written here). Traveling every chance I get, especially traveling abroad by myself help immensely. Getting a real camera (an "adult" camera...ha, the irony...) with a super zoom lens has also helped me think and perceive the world like a kid, paying attention to details and what I call haiku moments in the everyday, the beauty in the mundane, the extraordinary in the ordinary.

I got shit loads more to say, but to minimize the awkwardness factor here (because I don't assume others are as comfortable talking to strangers as I), I'll just give you this: and "Pelagic" on Myspace as well.

Thanks for writing. You gave me plenty to think about, and I love the fodder.

:: tk ::