Archive for April, 2010
Dear friends and lovers,
I just got involved in a project called Splice Today, an online magazine about cool shit. Seriously. That’s what it’s about. Cool shit. I’m probably going to spend a fair of hand ticks over there and less at Twenty Twenty Hindsight. I’ll still be spewing words, but now I’ll be doing it for a larger audience, hopefully. My blog isn’t going anywhere unless the Internet breaks and I’ll still update when I’ve got new shit, but check out Splice. And be happy for me! Now I can tell people I’m a professional blogger, which I plan to begin immediately.
It’s a few days after Easter and I’ve been trying to figure out the significance of this hoiday without consulting experts. I know about the cross thing and the thorny headband, but Good Friday is lost on me. I haven’t actually wondered what Good Friday is until this year. This may seem impossible, but when your parents raise you to believe that the only thing holy is Bob Dylan’s Blond on Blond, it’s easy to reach your mid-twenties thinking of religious holidays as little more than get-out-of-school-free cards. Good Friday means as much to me as Rosh Hashanah, which I thought what one word until I just looked it up.
The company I keep is equally muddy on such matters. Even though many of my friends were sent to Sunday school and Bible study as children, they have largely blocked out these monotonous and/or terrifying church visits and forgotten what such holidays mean. Our spiritual education comes each Sunday around noon at at the Church of the Bloody Mary. The question of Good Friday, however, has come up a lot recently due to a three beer bet that one of us can figure it out without Wikipedia. My favorite explanation for Good Friday comes from my friend Brandy, who said that Good Friday is the day Jesus rolled back the boulder and saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter!
Even though none of us have come up with a plausible explanation for why we would get the Friday before Easter off if we had office jobs instead of bartending or waiting tables or telemarketing or collecting unemployment, the three beer bet means we’ve had Jesus on the mind. The following is a voice mail I received from a dear, nameless friend on Easter Sunday:
Yo boo, I’m calling to see what’s what and also to tell you about the the crazy motherfucking sex dream I had about our lord and savior Jesus Christ. I think it was in honor of all the Easter talk we’ve been having lately. It was kind of a sexy dream but he was on the cross and I was putting my hands on his face and also into the… what’s it called? The crown of thorns. But it was going into my hands instead of into his head. Hope you’re doing well. See you Tuesday. Happy Easter.
The reason I’m not celebrating Easter with my friends over eggs Florentine and mimosas this year is because I’m in my hometown, a small rural cluster called Cullowhee, North Carolina, with 1300 registered voters and no place to get a bagel. I don’t visit very often, maybe three or four times a year, even though it’s only a five hour drive from Carrboro. I just don’t really like it here. I have no nostalgia for my hometown. No teenage memories of young love or mischief, just a vague memory of high school torment because I didn’t shave my legs. There are things I like about it—it’s beautiful, for instance, and quiet, and my parents have cable and an entire fridge filled with just Perrier and sharp cheddar and good beer. But it’s boring and the good beer means nothing to me because I don’t drink with my parents. It’s not so much because I can’t drink in front of my parents—they certainly drink in front of me—but a glass or two of wine seems awkward considering I called them in a moment of desperation three years ago and told them that I was an alcoholic. I’ve since Indian given that self-diagnosis, but at the time I was distraught because my girlfriend found out the I cheated on her and I needed an explanation for why I had done this terrible thing to someone I loved so much that I would easily have sold several minor and one major organ to take her on a nice vacation. There had to be a reason for my sociopathic behavior and alcohol seemed to be the thread connecting all the lies I told her. It’s better to have a drinking problem than be a bad person, I thought, and so I told this thing to my parents and now I can’t take it back.
The forced sobriety of Cullowhee is good for me. I think of my hometown as a health resort, a sanitarium, a rehab center. It not the effort of adjustment, of changing my lifestyle, but simply mountain air that will renew me. I just need a break, a rest, a reprieve and then I’ll take the peace and the sobriety and the will to change back with me.
When I go to my hometown for more than a day or two, it’s usually because something black mold and speeding ticket has happened in my life. This time is no different. Within the span of one week, I caught my porch on fire and was fired from my job. I lost my keys and my wallet and my phone, three things you need when you have to pay the locksmith you called to get inside your house. It’s not even that I lost a bag containing all three vitals. I lost them separately. The porch and the job weren’t all that surprising, but losing the necessary necessities at three different times made me feel like I was losing pieces of my brain along with my worldly goods, so I left for my hometown and a break from my messy life.
This flight from daily life happens about once a year, always in the spring. I spend one last night at the bar before I pack my bags and kiss my friends goodbye. I tell everyone I’ll be gone for a month, maybe more, because I really believe that I’ll be gone for a month, maybe more. After I get home and unpack my bags and spend my first night eating outside and drinking Perrier and watching a sky that is bigger than the sky I’m used to, I feel regret creeping up. The first few days are always hard. I turn into a teenager. I get resentful that my parents want to have actual conversations instead of leaving me alone with my books and my thoughts, like I’m seventeen and just want to be left alone.
After the first few days, however, after a few days of being sober and smoke free, I start to calm down. I remember the good things about living in a non-town in the mountains. I wake up early and ride my bike along the river. I go hiking in the afternoons and mow my parents’ lawn and wash their cars. I eat ice cream before bed and don’t feel guilty about it because you deserve ice cream when you’ve gone running and cleaned the attic and remembered how to tell your parents that you love them. The people here are charming and nice. You can be a complete bitch in a town like this as long as you say bless her heart before calling someone a fucking piece of shit cunt. Bless her heart, I just wish that bitch would die a slow and painful death at the hands of a rapist with bad breath.
But it’s difficult for me to be here for long. When I spend enough time without the distractions of friend dates and date dates and happy hour and dance parties, I start to think about the past. And, inevitably, about my ex-girlfriend, the one from years ago, the one I lied to over and over and over. The clarity that comes with sobriety and time to think makes me remember her and remember that I miss her and remember all the things we felt and did. I remember putting photobooth stickers of ourselves happy and in love all over our house for each other to find in books or cds or underneath the wine glasses in the cabinet or frozen into a piece of ice in the freezer. I remember that she was braver than me, that she drove the tall and winding copper-colored roads of Yellowstone while I sat in the passenger seat with my head between my legs, terrified to look over the edge. I remember how she walked, slowly and purposefully, her hips low. I remember the names we called each other when we were happy and the names we called each other when we were angry. I remember the Easters we spent together, trying to poach eggs and make bloody Mary mix in our kitchen, stickers of ourselves on the fridge and in the pantry. She would have known what Good Friday is.
The more time I have to think, the shorter the peace lasts. I tire of thinking about her and tire of thinking about myself. Even though it’s barely been a week, much less a month, I want to go back to a place where she doesn’t exist, where the memories are all my own.
Good Friday might not be the day Jesus saw his shadow and Easter might not be the day my friend pulled thorns from his crown, but when I go back this afternoon, these are the things I will discuss about over bloody Marys and eggs Florentine. I won’t think of her and I won’t wonder what went wrong. I will sit on my porch and win three beer bets and wonder who our savior is. And when it’s next spring and the one after that, when I’ve destroyed another house and lost another job, I can always go back to the safety and the quiet of my first home, go back and try to do it again.