Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 6.2

Everyone imagines themselves just. Vigilantes armed with words that they cannot wield properly but with which can still maim. We are peyote snake-oil ministers in every outlet for thought; You ever listen to somebody talk? Then you are too.

There is a din in the streets clamoring to be heard from the bottom to the top. Bullhorn buglers are directing the blind and the bright-eyed over a cliff that keeps everything running. Tunnel with overhead lights that claim to be sunlight, but if sun ever touched our paleness then we may be evaporated and never heard from again. Or we may already be in raindrops bound sooner or later to hit the ground. And the sad reality is that the asphalt doesn’t soften up for anybody.

Love is the case in point.

My first girlfriend was beautiful and petite and was just as eager to have me as I was to have her. We talked to each other for a couple of days and then started dating, like kids do, we broke up three or so times before we really broke up.

I was in love with this girl. I can remember teaching her how to bake in my kitchen and kissing her for any reason and no reason at all. When I could see her I smiled, when she left I was ready to see her again. It was better than being addicted.

A creek that snaked through the property, sometimes we’d go swimming and once my dog snuck up and stole some of our clothes. I’d hold her in the middle of the creek as we kissed. Something more than anything I’ve ever known.

During this my parents would be at work and held up by migraines. Some variations included.

Now I know that my mother knew that I was in love, and I know that it made her happy. Something that my girlfriend and I talked about. I finally realize that love makes for a way of happiness. I can remember thinking about being loved back for as long as life.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 6.1

What a sick feeling in my bumping, beating chest and throughout my veins. Down my arms and legs. It gnaws at my gut and it wreaks havoc on my mind. I can tell that my speech has been affected and I think that I may be going insane. Especially as I gradually lose the meticulously constructed cool-calm that I wrap about my person like a warped shawl. When this happens my mind goes inside itself while every neuron is firing off in a free-for-all. In the morning I experience a déjà vu that plays itself out like clockwork, I don’t understand this but I feel that I am becoming trapped in time, this feeling lasts only for a scant second (in the grand scheme) before my thoughts collect and rein me back in. I’m getting increasingly worried about not coming back. I’m definitely not stoned when this happens, if I were, I don’t think it would be so intensely alive inside. To be fair, I do have caffeine running amok and I would not pass a drug test. But this goes far beyond a typical paranoia case. In writing this I assure myself that I am okay for at least eight hours, during that time I will try to fall asleep. If I’m lucky I won’t be in that moment the next morning, otherwise I’ll stay sane by questioning my sanity.

dream:

It’s still February, a strange dream. I was in my house and my room was bare cepting two beds. Odd consciousness of dream states that I have experienced some kind of mental breakdown. I am transported from lucidity into my body and lay in bed talking with a girl that I was vaguely attracted to. I trusted this girl very much in this dream.

We were lying in separate beds and she was listening to me ramble scared thoughts and worries. The look on her face was one that said, “I’m not judging you, I’m listening, but you get through this on your own.” The oddness darting her countenance spoke to the fact that in waking life, I really don’t want her to know me. Sometimes I must relearn this: For a good portion of personal relationships there is no truth stringing us together. Such liaisons never speak to one another as mutual humans with mutual and actual emotions. I remained silent on the matter.

In my dream I told her that I just wanted her to lie in the bed across from me, she asked if we were going to have sex and I said “No, I just want you to hold my hand while I drift off, I’ve never had anyone do that for me and that’s what I want more than anything.” Then she just did that, I went to sleep in my dream knowing that she had me safe for the night. I thought of nothing as she held me there.

As I dreamed falling asleep I realized what a wonderful “NOW” this was.

The reason I found this dream significant is because I have never liked this person and have seldom enjoyed her company. That must be the mutual truth and an actual emotion between us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 6.0

Enter: relationship so amazing it alters how you see them. Struck with ideas that the rest of your life will be like that one. You forget how you were before because you grew trained to feel. No initiative.

Enter: relationship that seemed to change everything, but turned out to be just a well-designed replica.

I don’t care how it sounds or looks: I’ve had my heart broken in so many ways that if I were to be happy with someone I would be as surprised as a Titanic victim. Not supposed to sink, but down we go.

It’s sometime in February of 2007, early February. I told the girl I thought I loved just about everything I could think of to tell her a couple of days ago. I think my biggest mistake (and luckiest move) was not telling her that I love her.

It’s amazing how you can get so attached to people in relative time and then one time it may be the last time you ever see them again, a lot of the youth experiences this through school friends. I haven’t graduated yet, it’s coming, it’s looming and I can smell freedom in a form of slavery.

I’m afraid that it may be too soon to adequately describe this period in my life, I’m even more afraid that this period of my life is happening the way it is. I suppose the best thing to do is to offer up an example for those with sound mind to pick apart. This is a letter that I wrote for the girl, intending to revise or deliver, though, neither happened and she won’t have read it unless she happens to find this page. I hope she knew it without ever having to read it:

I can’t be everything you want. Since the day we met, I’ve spent more time trying to be the perfect lover than trying to meet the perfect one.

I meant it, but I meant it to someone else from an earlier time. That letter seems to capture an emotion that I’ve slept with many nights of my teenage life. What that emotion is or if it is a cocktail of them. I’m not sure. I’m just assuming it’s life, that’s what all the people say.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 5.2

It seems different this time, and it is. That's why one shouldn’t fall into buying comparisons between old wars and new wars.

The worst feeling, in our newly dawned age of instant connection, is that if the disaffected refuge across the world actually talked to myself, my friends; If we talked to them we would find that there isn’t much difference in our basic dreams. The difference lays down in the straw of our day to day actions.

I know I don’t have to wake up to Iraq circa 2007, but I know in my heart that the people who are taught to hate me really don’t. The people in America who are taught to hate them really don’t. I want to think that kind of hatred is impossible. The unseemly hatred that attempted to be imparted on me made me physically sick. There is seldom enough capacity in someone to carry on the kind of hatred that we seem to believe each other possess.

The reason for the hatred is that instead of talking to new people when I get on the internet, I talk to my friends that I saw that same day, or look at videos, stupid ones and serious ones, even ones about the humans I felt this distant concern for. And I can potentially maintain a perpetual inhuman disconnect to everything that is real.

Sometimes I like that.

Sadly, I like the pixilated people more than the real ones.

But that doesn't keep their blood off of my hands.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 5.1

The bonds that made the joyous summer of 2006 possible were formed so many years ago. That little fourth grade classroom felt lives ago. James, Liam and I sat in a row and Danny sat in front of us. The first and third girls I ever liked sat behind us.

Long ago enough that we were discovering the things that make us human. Also an obsession with pushing the limits of what we could get away with. But things were different back then. I and Liam made straight A’s, barely able to understand circumventing authority.

Our grade school days and middle school days are so hazy to me now, as though they were experienced by different people. And yet without them I don’t know how we would’ve evolved.

September eleventh happened at the start of our seventh grade year during music class. Our history teacher came to the class and told us to turn on the T.V. We watched like everyone else did. We also saw the second plane hit in real time, there is no way to explain that. It’s a wreathing scar for those who saw it and especially those who experienced it, and neither of the two are holding out for it to heal, that’s for the next generation to make better, I hate that it‘s to be pawned off on them, but their perspective will help them pick up the pieces.

Yet the worst thing about that time was the sense of hope and pointed assuredness that was squandered. Not even squandered, but killed. The rest of the decade would be so damn hard to stomach. Those who were there and alive shouldn’t forget the genuine feelings. We shouldn’t have to listen to false-croon country-music stars or watch any eye-drop-tears movie that will dilute the short flash of earnestness that followed. Maybe it was all meant to burn at both ends, anyway that’s what happened and at one point or another every American would wind up against each other and forming new allegiances as they changed their pants.

I don’t know why we stuck together like we did. We were outsiders, more outside than we even realized. But there was more, what it was I don’t know, it was a product of the times but could never be bought and sold, you either were or you weren’t. It was so amazingly personal that only four guys shared the first half and five the rest, then it was gone forever. It could never be the same and probably shouldn‘t be. One day there won’t be anything of us left except these stories. It’s a weird reality at seventeen when reality is already so skewed.

I suppose the life I was living at age ten was like most kids’ lives. I played army with my younger brother, I had toy cars and action figures that didn’t make any sense. I was a Star Wars kid and was elated when they made the new movies, I couldn‘t understand why so many older people hated those movies, especially those older people who said their lives were changed by the first ones. My older brother, who was just the right age for the first set, put this into perspective for me and he did it the way it should have been:

“Those were kids’ movies, they were meant to entertain kids, I was excited to see you two so happy with something that made me happy when I was that age. Especially Kevin, I was seven when the first one came out, like him. That shit wasn’t made for thirty-year-olds who paint themselves up and camp out in front of theaters.”

But why were they so upset?

First, it should be agreed upon that generations are a creation of corporate empire marketing, be that as it may, I’m speaking of the age groups strictly in relation to their age and not their profit margin. In that I hope to get across my honest intentions in writing this. So here we go.

My guess is that Generation X never grew up. They are eternally children and lucky for that. There was no great war, no horrible war, no nation-shaking catastrophe for them. There was the cavalier, smooth-talking president who seemed like your grandfather. Then it was the good-time party-guy president. Desert Storm operations were over 100 hours after commencing and were watched on satellite broadcast at dinner, replete with commercials. I keep the tape my father and brother made of coverage of the war. I listen to the singers and I don’t hear songs of life, but references to the culture that they absorbed in their formative years. The movies read as an elongated homage to their younger pop-cultured years. So much so, that pop culture now only exists to be referenced.

In the face of what may one day be perceived as authenticity, as unearned for myself as it is, I find myself envying my brother. He was able to suspend his childhood into his teenage years and his twenties, just like most who grew up in that time. The people I know basically stopped feeling like kids after September 11, 2001. Even though we still acted like spoiled brats.

To future generations: Don’t romanticize this notion. You'll disdain life if you compare yourself to some asshole's nostalgia.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 5.0

The bonds that made the joyous summer of 2006 possible were formed so many years ago. That little fourth grade classroom felt lives ago. James, Liam and I sat in a row and Danny sat in front of us. The first and third girls I ever liked sat behind us.

Long ago enough that we were discovering the things that make us human. Also an obsession with pushing the limits of what we could get away with. But things were different back then. I and Liam made straight A’s, barely able to understand circumventing authority.

Our grade school days and middle school days are so hazy to me now, as though they were experienced by different people. And yet without them I don’t know how we would’ve evolved.

September eleventh of 2001 happened to be at the start of our seventh grade year during music class. Our history teacher came to the class and told us to turn on the T.V. We watched like everyone else did. We also saw the second plane hit in real time, there is no way to explain that. It’s a wreathing scar for those who saw it and especially those who experienced it, and neither of the two are holding out for it to heal, that’s for the next generation to make better, I hate that it‘s to be pawned off on them, but their perspective will help them pick up the pieces.

Yet the worst thing about that time was the sense of hope and pointed assuredness that was squandered. Not even squandered, but killed. The rest of the decade would be so damn hard to stomach. Those who were there and alive shouldn’t forget the genuine feelings. We shouldn’t have to listen to false-croon country-music stars or watch any eye-drop-tears movie that will dilute the short flash of earnestness that followed. Maybe it was all meant to burn at both ends, anyway that’s what happened and at one point or another every American would wind up against each other and forming new allegiances as they changed their pants.

I don’t know why we stuck together like we did. We were outsiders, more outside than we even realized. But there was more, what it was I don’t know, it was a product of the times but could never be bought and sold, you either were or you weren’t. It was so amazingly personal that only four guys shared the first half and five the rest, then it was gone forever. It could never be the same and probably shouldn‘t be. One day there won’t be anything of us left except these stories. It’s a weird reality at seventeen when reality is already so skewed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 4.4

Damn those days were fun and we didn’t even know that next summer would be better. Some things really can’t be helped and youth should always be one of those things.

People who supposedly define something usually don’t feel much of a connection with what they somehow define. This presents a sort-of quandary, for if one with no connection to a movement can make it then what does that say about those who actually practice the lifestyle?

Maybe that they are reaching, that on some low-key level they recognize that there is no answer and so they reach out to someone who embodies what they want to be. The practitioner would not deny his or her philosophy for practical reasons and so it must be attached onto something that can hopefully change it externally.

Do you think that Jack White feels any connection to my generation? I don’t think he even cares about his generation. When the White Stripes first came up, so many tried to proclaim the clarion call of a new generation with Jack White at the bugle. Of course that was an intoxicating prospect for myself, but as time went on I came to realize that most of my friends didn’t listen to them except a few singles.

Would you want that kind of stigma? I wouldn’t, and yet I practiced it, the false generalization of a false prophet that I procured from madness and nonreason.

This was how I made my friend James represent freedom. He was tied down to a job, a girlfriend and the place he lived. But for some reason I convinced myself that he was free. I don’t know what I was lacking to make me do this because I didn’t realize I did it until now. He didn’t change my idea of freedom and that was the thing so inverted about my thoughts on him

I still have every White Stripes album though.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ashes of Youth Chapter: 4.3

Stinking from the long day, we hit it. Sipping on the vodka and yelling out the windows with the tweeters turned up all the way. Very young in a slap-in-the-face way.

Around eleven I was dropped off at my van’s parking space. I got in and we were leaving Panama, calling it a night. James’ flashed a thumb’s up at me and I did the same so he would know I was alright. I’d been feeling a bit sick. We were driving along making good time, then we came upon a red light on 231. I slid into the left lane. I looked over at them and they were already looking at me. James revved his engine and I did mine as a joke. But then he nodded at me and I nodded at him.

We turned to face the stoplight.

Green. Go! A minivan and an old S-10 drag racing on the damn highway. We started off tied then he pulled ahead, I gassed it hard, I caught him and then passed him. He gave up and I left him doing about 100 miles an hour.

I decided to not push my luck after I made a green light and he caught it red. I slowed down and just cruised along at 70. I went about twenty miles like this before I noticed a pair of headlights coming up on me fast, I didn’t think it was them until they whipped around me flipping birds out the window. I could see Liam working on the vodka.

I gassed it, trying to cut them off before they crossed both lanes ahead of me and got into the turning lane for Highway 20. I rode up on them fast and we both took the turn at about twenty five over railroad tracks. No time to think about that, they were ahead of me. I shot up to 80 and then at the first clear spot I shot around them doing 90 over a small bridge, whipping back in front of them. My speedometer was hitting 95. Then my cell-phone rang. It was Liam saying that they had to go back. I let up and watched them slow down and turn around in my rearview mirror.

I stayed pretty close to the speed limit on the way home. I was high from the adrenaline.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 4.2

“Man how can you drink unsweet tea?” Liam asked.

“Do you at least put sugar in it?” James asked.

“Nope I drink it like a man.” we all laughed and she came back with the drinks making sure to point out that I had unsweet tea, this got the required “ughs” from Liam and James.

We laughed and sat there in silence for a minute, and then I picked up where we left off earlier.

“Well you were supposed to give us food, shit, what if you didn’t? We would have starved.”

James laughed.

“Do you guys remember the JR bag that Danny had?” Liam asked us, well yeah we remembered it. We all agreed that it was awesome and we reminisced a little while longer. The food came and we ate, then paid and left.

We stopped by James’ Grandparents’ house to get a license so we could get to the pier. We visited for a while and then we went to a little fishing shack near the beach to get some lures and line.

We started up a conversation with one of the guys that worked there about King Crab fishing. I guess he liked James because he cut him a deal on the line. Then we stopped to get some ice and we were off.

Once we got to the pier we set up to get some live bait and then we chummed the water despite the people swimming right next to the pier. An older guy was fishing at the end and we talked a little while with him.

Finally it was time to break out the special water, straight vodka in a water bottle. With our drunken shark fishing the day aged and more people started coming to the end of the pier. Liam and I were hitting on some of the girls while James kept fishing. He was so determined to catch a shark he barely took notice when a really attractive older (I use this loosely because we were sixteen at the time) woman started hitting on him.

We kept fishing and after catching nothing we just dumped the bait and walked back to the truck. The sun was setting and we said goodbye to the ladies. When we got back in the truck we decided that it was time to hit the strip with our drink and James' speakers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 4.1

It was the summer of 2005. I picked Liam up at his house early in the day, we went to meet James at a gas station on the way to Panama City.

“Damn it James!” Liam began, “I knew he’d be late.”

“I know, I know, but at least we aren’t late. . . That fucker. . . We need to gas up anyway.” I said.

We wheeled around to the gas pumps and put thirty bucks in, we were at the worst priced station on 231. The next week they had to lower their prices for price-gouging and then a few weeks later after Katrina.

James showed up and we checked out his fishing gear. We were going shark fishing off the pier. First James had to gas up then we stopped at the shop where he worked, I left my van there and we went to eat.

We all piled into his rough, old S-10 and went to some local barbeque joint. We turned his radio up loud, all he had was tweeters so it was earsplitting, I think we listened to the Gorillaz.

As we sat down we started the old ball-busting routine.

“So James, I haven’t seen ya in so damn long whatcha been up to?” I started.

“Workin” he said like always.

“That’s it?” Luke asked.

“Hell yeah, I go to school and I work. Do either one of you have a job?”

“No.” We both laughed at the same time.

“You lazy bums, at least I’m contributing to society,” as he said this we both started cracking up, he always laced into us about that. “I’m a workin man, you two just mooch, I remember when I used to be the only one who would bring Combos to school and you two and Dan used to just hold your hands out like I was supposed to give you shit.”

The waitress interrupted him to get our orders.

“Sweet Tea.” Liam said, she turned to James.

“Sweet Tea”

“Unsweet Tea” I said.

We all ordered barbeque sandwiches, she laughed and said she’d be right back.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ashes of Youth Chapter 3.1

I’ve known my oldest friends since daycare and Kindergarten, though, we didn’t become a close-knit group until the fourth grade. Bonding over shining the sun's reflections into people's eyes, Jolly Ranchers, and getting into trouble. That was a magical year that we lived minute by minute to the end.

Over the next five years we went from an odd almost-innocent rule breaking to smoked cigarettes, eaten pills, and swallowed cough syrup. During breaks, lunch and recess we did our drugs, vandalized everything we could vandalize, and one day lit a fire. The authoritarians focused on our misdeeds, rightly so, but we also became bohemian poets before we had any idea what those words meant. It was almost a scene, we had a style, bestowed knowledge on younger kids and accepted every chance to feel oppressed. We were so out there compared to what the school had ever seen before that they felt forced to underpin it with new rules.

We were an island and then we were islands unto ourselves, two of us were born on islands, and that never left us. It may have been our folly to believe that the good times would last forever, but it also may have been the only thing that made the good times great. There was that sense of unbelievable understanding, the idea that if you stood on a lake at night, the stars would become yours, the black sky was no longer black but a shade of blue and rest was just around the corner, redemption was not needed because we were the redemption.

But it was our folly in hope, the mountain we made and crumbled but never moved until it was in enough pieces that we could stuff it into our pockets and take with us. We spread the mountain, its snow melted to give water to the thirsty and the rocks provided footing for the unpaved paths. I still carry the mountain, I will always carry it, and if that means I will never walk on water again, then so be it. The knowing cannot float, rocks of knowledge will suck us down into the lake until there is only black and no rest sates us. These were our ramparts, our remnants, the mountain turned out to be a volcano and we were its lava.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ashes of Youth: Chapter 2.4

And then my eyes opened, my room was shaded by my dark drapes and yet my eyes hurt, I closed them and they still hurt. It was that dull pain that you feel in the back of your eyes, I knew it would last for awhile, but I kept my eyes closed anyway.

After what seemed like thirty minutes but was really about five, I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to the bathroom. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was surprised to find someone that didn’t look hung-over or empty like they try to describe in movies and books. But I did look rough, my lips were chapped and obviously so, my eyes still kind of bloodshot and my hair was a squirrel’s nest. I splashed water on my face and sat down in the living room.

Liam was in the process of waking up and I was thinking about a cup of coffee. I sat there in that semi-dark room and went over last night, something wasn’t right and then a snippet of conversation came back to me.

[“Where the hell is my pipe?” I asked. As I ran my hands along the floor of the car. I was a little worried that the chanteuse might have pocketed it without my seeing.
“Don’t worry about it hon” the girl said. I tired to eye her but she wasn’t acting suspiciously.
“I think Imighta left it at the school” Liam piped up in a sickly way.
“Shit” I said, “I guess we oughta go . . . get it in the mornin’” I was trailing off because I was worried about some slack-jawed teacher finding it and then I would never get it back.]

My thoughts were run over by the slow realization that it was drizzling outside. I hoped that my pipe wasn’t laying on any sand.

At about ten Liam and I were mostly awake. I had to take him home so we decided to skip breakfast and ride up to the school. When we stepped out into the day the rain caught us off guard. My father’s truck was not in the yard and then I realized that today was a Monday and he had gone to work. He was a contractor and a damn good one.

I walked up to the car and saw that I had left the lighter on the front seat in plain view from the window, also I had locked the doors in case there was any paraphernalia in the car. Though, leaving stuff on the seat sort of defeats the purpose.

We drove up to the school and the first place we went to, the swings where we sat drunkenly smoking cigars and half-swinging, was where my pipe had been left. It was on its side on the ground and the sand had kind of lapped up around it from the rain. We turned to go back to the car and I looked to where we had seen the Christmas lights. Liam must have done the same thing because he said “What the hell was Danny thinking when he said Christmas Lights?”.

“I have no idea” I responded, “what were we thinking when we followed him to them and then stood on the train tracks? If those were really train tracks that could’ve been dangerous.”