It’s trash day in the part of Brooklyn I live in, but even though it smells like sweaty garbage it’s a beautiful morning. That’s the problem, though—it’s morning. I should not be out. It’s bad outside during the morning, because that’s when memories are at their most crystal clear and furthest away. I don’t know why—I’m no scientist—but I feel like it has something do with senses. Being outside in the early-ish morning (about 7 a.m.) on the east coast is a familiar feeling to me, and it (pardon the cliche) brings back memories. Memories of family vacations to Virginia, up early to run with my stepfather (not by my own volition, I assure you) for the most part. And nothing about those annual vacations was bad—not even the running, not really—but the fact that I can’t go back to that is a very bad thing indeed, at least at this point in time.
That’s the shitty thing about nostalgia. You can so clearly envision what you want because you’ve already been there, but it’s out of reach. And nostalgia makes me think of how I’ve fucked myself and my life up in the last two-ish years. I thought New York would be a fresh start, and it certainly was, but I didn’t take into account how much of a price came with that. The loneliness and the fear of not being able to survive here and the embarrassment at the prospect of returning home with my tail between my legs and then the despair at the realization that I probably can’t go back, and then I begin to do that silent crying thing to myself and my tear ducts begin to dry heave, but this isn’t devastating enough to warrant full-on sobbing so I just sniffle and let my face go through the motions of crying even if it’s like masturbating compared to actually making love.
You can probably tell what the tone of this (essay? Is it an essay? I’ll call it an essay) essay will be. Sorry. Read this with a funny movie playing in the background or something. By the way, as I’m writing this, I’m sitting on my couch/bed and I’m getting this weird floating sensation, like I’m weightless. I can feel my back slipping away even though I’m sitting up perfectly straight. Maybe there’s a metaphor buried in there but I’m in no state to go digging for metaphors.
There’s not really a point to this. I just wanted to capture the feeling of despair. I know that sounds so melodramatic, despair, and it probably is, but I’m writing this. Not any of my critics. “It may not be real, but it’s how I feel,” is how Kurt Vile put it and that’s a pretty right-on way to put it.
Before I left Oklahoma for New York, I wrote a note to my family. This was in the short period when I decided taking the easy way out and slipping out in the night would be easiest instead of telling them I was leaving. When I decided that leaving them to wonder where the fuck I was and why I’d do this to them would be the best course of action. I wised up, obviously, and I’m even ashamed to admit that for a second I thought I’d do that to my family. But I forgot to get rid of the letter, which I left on the floor by the bed in my old room, and which I suspect my mother has probably found by now. It was a pretty short letter (I didn’t even have the decency or attention span to write them a longer letter—or type it out, for that matter,) but I remember writing that this, what I am currently living right now, would be my last chance. That it was either overcome the odds and “beat” this city or die trying. Because I couldn’t (and still can’t, to a lesser degree,) imagine coming home admitting defeat. I hate being embarrassed, hate imagining what people are thinking behind my back, and slinking back to Oklahoma with a shrug on an oh-well look on my stupid face is about the most embarrassing thing I can imagine.
Here’s the problem, though, and it’s one I learned pretty quickly after I’d settled in. You can’t beat this city. You just can’t. New York City has been around for hundreds of years and it’ll be here for hundreds more. You can’t. Beat. New York City. It’s eight million to one odds. You can stay a few steps ahead of its jaws, but even the richest, happiest people in this city will never beat it.
So maybe I should have done some more research. And in that note, even though I didn’t outright say it, I implied suicide. What a cruel, stupid thing to write with the intention of someone else reading it, but that’s where my head was at in those last few days of living in Oklahoma. (Which were, going slightly off-topic, the first few days of 2012.) Now. I do not plan on committing suicide. I know (and I promise I am not being conceited here) that I have talent, but I’m nowhere near living up to it, and to throw that away would be a waste. To hurt the people who have both invested themselves in me and loved me unconditionally (namely, my family and my girlfriend) would be such a mean, stupid thing to do. I will not commit suicide. But writing this all out, telling you, dear reader, that I once wrote a note which can be summarized as “I am moving to New York and if that doesn’t work out, I will be clocking out of the planet of the apes” is embarrassing but necessary for me. It’s weirdly cathartic, and it feels good to do this.
Magnified depression, loneliness and, yes, despair are things that I’ve experienced since moving. I’ve also met great people who believe in me and have taken it upon themselves to help me mine the full potential of myself. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Life is a give and take. There are going to be periods, I’ve learned, where you’re giving much more than taking, but there are also going to be periods where the inverse is true. I guess the point of these last 1000 or so words is to basically come to terms with life. I know I’m nowhere near that point yet, but I know I’m closer than I was at 7 a.m. Thank you for reading this.