Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the end of civilization

"Everyone leaves or gets married!" I tell my mom as I'm crying on the phone, late for a wedding, and it feels like it's true. The ones who don't leave or get married get drunk and I don't get drunk. Such is life in one of the nation's poorest cities and sometimes it gets depressing as hell.

I was feeling pretty down and out this weekend, sleeping, getting bummed out, forgetting about things I was supposed to do, skipping parties and Labor Day gatherings to sleep some more, wake up to clean the house, do some art, and then go to sleep again, never quite shaking the tiredness out of me.

I resurfaced on Sunday night, driving out to the east side to hang out with the usual suspects and eat pancakes, and drink a whole pot of coffee before driving out to the "End of Civilization" in the next county to find a place to look at the stars. There are certain great conversations that only seem to happen in moments like these, when the remnants of pop culture, the ruminations of frustrated English majors subjected to suicidal dead women writers, the dynamics of living in this strange weird world where our paths converge.

We found an empty lot at the end of a cul-de-sac and stared up into the Milky Way, having a hard time picking out the Big Dipper because there were so many other stars and planets and satellites. It was so still and perfectly beautiful but then someone in the house across the way must have seen us because the lights came on and we saw someone in the window and figuring we already looked suspicious enough anyway, roared off because we didn't want to try and explain why three kids from Cleveland are "just looking at the stars" especially when one of us is on probation.

Someone had crashed his motorcycle and we stopped to see if he was ok. He was conscious but there was blood everywhere and thankfully the police and EMS came though it seemed to take them so long to get everything going. I find the outlying areas scary because it's so dark and if something happened, you could lay there for hours if no one sees you and there's nowhere to go for help. Sometimes the city is a cold and scary place too, but at least there's someone around.

Me & Muk had to drive back down there to retrieve his keys he dropped in the road when he got out, and there were still sirens going and the road blocked off. We drove back listening to 1940s jazz at 3am and I ended up sleeping on his couch and driving back the next morning feeling dazed and shellshocked and still laughing over the conversations from the night before. It's always so drama-free and chill and honest in a way that I find rare. Those times don't happen as much as they used to and I miss it.

And I wish things weren't so messy and complicated everywhere else... even though life is consistently interesting and full of adventure, I sometimes wish I could be like the people who appear to have consistency even though that in itself is an illusion. It's hard for me to trust others, and so easy to long for escape and change even when I know that I can't run away from myself and always have to come back.

It seems so easy to get pulled away from what is good, so easy to fall back into past addictions and bad habits and unhealthy relationships. I see everyone around me getting sucked in constantly, saying they want certain things but not being willing to sacrifice or change to get there. We all have to grow up sometime, and I don't think that 'growing up' necessarily has to involve a soulless existence. You can't stay in college forever. You can't party with your bros or your girls forever. Everyone gets older and so do you except when you're in academia.

How can you say you want a relationship with no games when your game is what you pride yourself on? You say you want honesty yet you lie to get out of trouble. You say you want someone who's responsible when you refuse to grow up. How can you say you want to be understood and loved when you are uninterested in doing that for others, and you want to be viewed as more than just what you look like but that's how you evaluate others.

And yet, I don't have the answers all the time either besides the obvious things and find it easier just to do what I've always done and alternately ignore and yearn.

I've gotten back into reading poetry for the first time in awhile, and sometimes the fragmentation and the raw emotion is easier for me to deal with than heavy volumes of information... and Gil Scott-Heron with his amazing voice and way with words does it for me in blue moods like this.


Randal Graves said...

That's a good way to look at it. Instead of the voluminous static, with verse, it's as if you get to pick and choose the sparks that you let hit your skin.

Watch it though, poetry will only lead to beatnik-ness, then instead of "stargazing" or "taking pictures" you'll be selling weapons to international drug cartels.

Ricky Shambles said...

Not drinking in Cleveland - now that's a new idea. I got married, then moved out. But that's a degrading situation at this point.

Any pontification about being grown up always makes me post this link:
Because we get to decide.

And getting back to poetry, you actually made me pull out one of my favorite books: Tony Hoagland's Donkey Gospel.


Often we ask ourselves
to make absolute sense
out of what just happens,
and in this way, what we are practicing

is suffering,
which everybody practices,
but strangely few of us grow graceful in.

I don't know to say it better, except to keep in memory the skies at night at the outskirts: I've been there and you can't see or talk like that anywhere else.