Friday, April 30, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 2.3

We smoked some more and visited old places that still had special meaning to us at the school. At the far end of the playground Liam decided that he wanted to try some of Danny’s snuff. He pinched the nasty shit and put it in his mouth. A few minutes later he was feeling mighty sick. He was basically put out for the night so he rested and nursed his sick stomach in the van’s middle seat while Danny and I partied on.

We started driving again and it got us to “Wal Town”, south of Marianna, a stop-gap town between Tallahassee and Panama City. We were starved, the munchies had set in. We stopped at Arby’s and I stumbled out of the driver’s seat. The next thing I knew this black girl came up to me from the ether and asked me: “Can I get a ride?” in the cutest southern accent I have ever heard.

“I’m not gonna lie” I mumbled “I’m drunkashell but I can giveyouaride.”

“That would be great” she said.

We got back in the van, she was riding shotgun, trying to get to some street I had never heard of where her sister lived. She didn’t know how to get there, it turned out that she was a victim of Hurricane Katrina and hadn’t lived here for a year or two. Her story made me feel like driving until dawn. She said that she has high from some weed that she smoked earlier as I was trying to find our own sack. We rode in the wrong direction for about half a mile and then we stopped at an empty gas station, we laughed and talked about living here long enough to clear my brain. Soon after we decided to strike out and try to find her mystery road.

Luckily, our giggly loss of direction translated to Liam’s ears. Somehow he knew exactly where the street was and how to get there. He sat up in a painfully sick manner and directed me to Laramie Street or something like that. We dropped her off and I watched her walk off in the night to her sister’s house, that was the last time I ever saw her. I don’t even know her name.

We went back to Arby’s and Danny and I got some curly fries and a sandwich. After we ate that we realized that we were still hungry. I went up to the counter to get another order of fries, I didn’t notice Danny walk up alongside me at first. While waiting in line some guy in a backpack asked us if we were brothers.

We laughed and I noticed how bloodshot Danny’s eyes were and so I laughed even more and then he laughed more until we were Hyenas, stoned and tired and still pretty drunk. I made up a story about how we ran a taxi service with the van and that we were under scrutiny from the Taxi Federation.

“What is that?” he asked.

“Those assholes try to get us arrested for running gypsy taxis, claiming that we clog up the road and put union taxis at risk. Really they’re afraid to take us on by themselves ‘cause we carry pipes.”

Our food came so we left him wondering what kind of pipe we meant.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 2.2

It was great, the four of us driving around getting buzzed and as the night wore on we became drunk. We went back to the same gas station for more beer and got even more drunk. At about one our drunken driver had to go home, so we piled into my van and drove off into the night once again. We first went to our old school, our elementary and middle school and where we spent our best years together. We drank and smoked some brick and a couple of cheap cigars. We were sitting on an old bench talking for a long while.

“Christmas lights.” Danny said and laughed.

I looked at his eyes and saw him glaze-eyed staring into the dark distance. Liam and I repeated “Christmas lights.” and then we walked toward the lights. What were Christmas Lights doing at Carr School in July?

We walked toward the lights in bride-eye wonder. As we got closer reality washed over us like some token tide at the ocean, as casual as a moon ascension. The rapturous Christmas lights turned out to be trailers that reflected lighted sidewalks. Then I looked down and I swear I saw train tracks, Liam and Danny thought this was so funny that train tracks were on the campus.

This was what our old school was turning into and suddenly it made sense to be standing on train tracks. They must have led to the future because they sure as hell didn’t lead to the past, we were the past. There we were, three teenagers, friends since Kindergarten, stoned, at the height of the first half of our lives. I got high just thinking about the times we had shared together, some of them so happy that etched out, old smiles broke when we thought and spoke of them, some of them so sad and fresh that the scars still hadn’t healed. We were everything at that moment and it seemed as though the belly-button of the world had been yanked to where we stood, we led the world and it revolved to our beat. I don’t think I have ever had that sensation so strongly since. The stoned world pressed itself to the cool glass of what would become the future. We held the brick to smash that glass.

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 2.1

It was the summer before my senior year and it was the second best time of my life. There were parties that lasted until dawn and friendships that would last until death. The summers are the most important time frame of our lives, they are endless yearning and hopeless hope, there’s a certain majesty to the idealistic sun that lasts all day. So this is where you first find me, having the time of my life so far, not knowing if the best years of my life are coming or going but lapping up the waves that form and break on me.

I am indestructible and I am young.

“How much money have you got?” it was a question posed to the gang of four but really it addressed the two people who normally have money.

“I’ve got twenty-five dollars but ten of it has to go toward gas” Liam said, “so if you can pitch in ten or fifteen, then we can buy two eighteen packs.”

“I can,” I said, “anyone else?”

“No” the other two said.

We wound up with thirty bucks and then drove to the one gas station that would probably sell to us. In the car it was decided that I had to buy it because I was riding shotgun and I had the best beard. I stepped out of the car and nervously walked to the door, I went inside and said “hey” nonchalantly to the old man behind the counter. I walked to the hot beer on the floor and grabbed an eighteen pack. I walked nervously to the counter and put it there.

“Do you have I.D.?” he asked me.

“Yeah, sure.” I pulled out my I.D. and tried to just show it to him but he grabbed it. Fuck I thought, he studied it a minute and asked, “Does this say ‘80’ or ‘88’?”


He asked me if I was sure a couple of times before he sold me the beer. Here I was, looking like I was giving him the hard time on the cameras. No time to worry about that, he held his hands out for the money. I fumbled nervously in my wallet for the green.

But now my hands trembled with excitement as I took the beer and when I stepped out the door. I could hear my friends saying “holy shit” as I walked toward the car, big smile breaking over my face. Then we drove off.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 1.4

My father and I talked about politics and the world and about our water pipes. We had genuinely interesting conversations that no one observed both taking part in the problem solving. Things are much easier to figure out when there are less people contributing to the think tank. I guess this is why I don’t trust any voting system, but I'm no terrorist, I like pork chops and baseball. We knew that we knew something, and to be sure, I can say that if anyone else were to try to drop in, they would never be able to make up for the years of dialogue between my father and I. That’s the way the world works sometimes, everyone wants to be elders but only about five people you’ve never heard of have the smarts to. I don’t mind being young and he doesn’t mind admitting I’m right sometimes, we’re neither of us elders.

We talk for a while and my brother wakes up around eleven with his hair in every direction like a rose bloom. They go into the living room to watch a movie and I go outside. The wind is blowing just right and the sun is shining as hard as one would wish it to, there are enough clouds to nab the right amount of sunlight before it hits the ground. I always appreciate how the clouds can look surreal against the sky when there are just a few floating around, how they turn pink during the day if you look at them right, and then you take in the whole picture and it grows dada legs.

And this is the morning in its melancholia and beauty. I’m living the way those two feelings exist together, so much so that they don’t seem right without each other’s compliment. I like the morning and its arc so much that I don’t even long for it after it’s gone.

Then morning is gone, and I do miss it. I miss the clarity and the newness, but alas, morning becomes noon, and then afternoon. I don’t like the afternoon because I get lazy, I might nap or I might play the guitar for a while. It’s frustrating because you can never do anything to its full potential in the afternoon, except napping. I don’t get much done in the afternoon, but today I’m replaying, in my head, different conversations I’ve had. I got stuck in that quest for smart banter and interesting wordplay, which makes quick friends but doesn’t help keep them. So at the risk of sounding pretentious I’ll say that I really do have those conversations. I don’t mimic scenes from movies like most people do when they start playing witty. This makes me inaccessible in ways that are close to people’s hearts. I don’t really lack emotion or passion, I just give off that air. So now I’m stuck in a different kind of illusion.

I accept that everyone is in some illusion or another and you just play along with theirs under the condition that they play along with yours. Life is what you think, before you realize that you’re thinking. After it has been thought, there’s time to rationalize and distill it so that it may be swallowed. Regardless you are who you think you are. Or if you’re a cynic you are who you fool yourself into being.

Or, if you’re a cynic and aware of it, and that awareness hurts, then maybe you are the lump in your throat and you can’t even rationalize swallowing in the first place. How did I get inside myself(?) you ask.

I get a second wind in the evening. I may drink coffee and write a song. The evening is the second best time for lucid thinking, more so than action. I guess that’s because you have the experiences off the day to add to whatever philosophy you’re constructing for yourself. I include myself.

This is important because we are alone when we’re young and that is when the mind is supposed to be the most agile. This is true, so is the fact that we’re alone when we’re older. But in youth you have a small ego still able to conceive. You haven’t slipped off to sleep yet and it doesn’t matter to anyone else what you believe dreams are. So you can just enjoy them.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 1.3

Blue and pink is everywhere. A day is born.

When I wake up I can smell the remnants of the night and have that smoky feeling. I hop in the shower and I make some coffee before my father wakes up. This is something I did nearly everyday I spent at home. Unless I’d been drinking the night before and he happened to beat me to the beans.

There are few things as lonely as talking on a phone in the morning of a Saturday. They have a certain melancholy that nothing can touch. My personal reasons behind this feeling are because I had this girlfriend a few years back and we used to leave the phone off the hook at night so we could sleep together. On Saturday mornings I would wait for her to wake up because she liked to sleep in. I would lie there for a couple hours with the radio turned low and wait for her to beep me.

Now I’m not much of a fool, I heard the blues man singing that there-is-no-true-love-blues and at first I didn’t believe it. I just liked the down and outness of the music. One day that relationship had to end. And it did, no theoretic somedays here.

Four years later, I’m staring into a cup of black coffee. I don’t even know how old I am. Feeling like a Moses, not a Methuselah so much, in actually I’m seventeen-eighteen young. It hasn’t been all bad, but it has been a hard four years. Not because of her, I wouldn't put that on her shoulders. I’ve lost my mom and grandmother, those two loses felt like twin towers pluming ashen over the timer of a downtown graveyard. I worked against the persistent forward motion of time, to my certain dismay everything still grew visible in sharp relief.

I don’t want to communicate that I feel particularly unique in my experiences thus far. Everyone has their problems and everyone deals with them somehow. Yet, if I had to attach a label to myself then I would use the word unique, because labels are easy and everyone is supposedly unique. Maybe it’s a copout and a throwback to every motivational speaker that ever filled you with hope or cynicism.

However you look at it, just don’t bother me.

I can hear the shower running from my father’s bathroom and that slowly pulls me from the introspective abyss. By the time he comes into the kitchen I am a full-fledged extrovert.

“Mornin’” I said.

“Mornin’, thanks for making coffee” he said.


“You take your medicine?”

“Not yet.” I always hated that our days started and ended with him asking if I took my medicine.

We sat there in the obligatory morning silence sipping our coffee.

“Is that boy awake yet?” he asked about my brother.

“Were you expecting him to be?” I smiled. He smiled too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 1.2

There were the words that he always used that I distinctly remember as never communicating commands. More like little challenges for us to make it quiet or to behave like a member of a societal entity. We still felt compelled to act as though we were under command. Perhaps tone inflection or voice modulation stirred unconscious visions of retribution. Most of us had parents that inflicted some form of totalitarian punishment. This is the first glimpse of how humans act that I ever experienced with wide-open-sky-brain. It was third grade and I had to cease to be a little kid anymore.

This may not be exactly how it was but it still seemed true ten years later. I retain no horrible lost innocence feelings, just difficult questions I couldn't answer turning into more difficult questions. Are challenges simply commands for the brave? And does that render the brave as mere followers, blazing trails on their deathbeds at another’s behest? If so then the weak in their wake can see this fate, but still take to the road, do they know, do they really know?

I don’t.

Interrupt the past with my present and you will find that I’m just high and it’s a minute ’til midnight. Strangely, my mind ponders the high concentration of dope labs in this area and the possibility of one blowing up near my house. Mostly I’m thinking happy-trappy about the Flaming Lips. So now my adventurous brain is potentially making me a follower. That’s just fine, I have Yoshimi and the pink robots to lead me through the motions and then present the path to break away from those motions.

I killed a man. Not really. I just like to see what people are willing to believe if presented with something hard to believe. It stretches the imagination in a bad way though and I promise to never lie again. Words and their meanings have changed for all of time, but what a lie is to a man who lives on an honest life, that’s what I mean when I say I'll never lie again.

Now that I’ve run through those initial mumblings of the medicinally altered mind I can do what I do best and that is think. I find myself thinking a lot, except when I am talking. The mouth somehow hinders thought despite communicating them. I think especially when walking the halls of my school, probably because all I see are the faces of people who have never tried to understand why they are the way they are. I feel like they have never gotten past certain events in their lives, good or bad. So now they take those unique circumstances out on themselves. I know a little bit about people who have gotten past things in their lives. I had a friend who told me that his male babysitter made him perform fellatio. He is now one the few important people who made me who I am today. So I don’t have any sympathy nor apathy toward people stuck in a moment.

It seems like I stopped believing a long, long time ago. In what I don’t
know, I forgot it back then.

Stoned I just realized why people who chew gum constantly seem so dumb. Even though they aren’t talking they are going through the motions of talking, so they’re getting double the trouble for half the pleasure. So maybe talking is healthy, it’s just the motion that eventually gives your mind lethargic gonorrhea, I have to live with the burn for now but the medicine will kick in as soon as I...

I yawn.

I go to sleep for a full eight hours.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 1.1

As a generation we learned to love and lose in a time when nothing was free and nothing was right.

I was sitting at my new desk and talking with the kid to my left. Someone I would accidentally stab in the eye later that year. "I want the top desk." he offered, referring to the cubby holes between us. "I wanted that one, but I don't really care." I ebbed back.

I recall only two things from my first day of school. We all remember events and things differently and with charged imagination. All the while zooming together on the glue highway of gravity through this universe. Over all I think we seem to not mean any harm, but we sure cause it for blue by reckless chance.

To my right was this blonde-haired angel kid wearing a purple shirt. I know this kid. He looked at me, as I did him. Before I had time to think any further we both shouted each other's names and hugged from our seats. I had known this guy in daycare, back then I didn’t speak much but we had talked some.

The first conversation that I recall with anyone since I left the Keys was in daycare with him about our different opinions of the women at the daycare. We debated until we fell asleep during naptime. James was the first friend I made in North Florida. We found a commonality to make significant both having been born in the Keys.

Right then I knew that I had no reason to fear anything. This was before I even had the chance to think that two more of the people in that room would become my best friends. Life is new and unprecedented as far as I can tell.

The people I loved would eventually be lost. For those who loved me, I would eventually be lost. We learned these things slowly and pointedly. But there was always the love. That's a victory if you need one to believe in.