Living The Dream

[A Stream of Consciousness Essay.]

Photo por Giovan Michael

Did I tell you about that conversation I had with that girl in the bar? How she told me that if you saw yourself on the street, that you wouldn’t recognize yourself? I think I did, but the idea still fascinates me. Especially in the past few days, thinking about what my life has looked like if a camera were to follow me around, filming me. It would consist of a lot of shots of me driving around town, buying a longboard, skating downtown, meeting up with all the people I know there, getting a free collectible bottle of rare sold out cold brew coffee because the people there know I care about them. It would be a montage of me going to surf by myself a lot and making friends every time, every time getting just a little bit better at it. It would show me working out, going to work and laughing a lot, writing songs, writing these essays, being very fucking productive and smiling a lot.

But unless that camera could see into my head, it wouldn’t the whole picture. That reminds me of something Susan Sontag wrote, that we now judge reality by the camera. That when an experience was incredibly visceral or memorable, we describe the experience as being “like a movie” furthermore evidence to show how much that reality is a subjective experience and that what I experience is not any more real than I want it to be. Which is very interesting when I end up in situations that I habitually create for myself that I very clearly don’t like. Such as the loop I’m in right now of waking up early and doing a lot of solo adventuring. I have to admit that some part of me does love that freedom. I love freedom but freedom is lonely. Today I got in a very long conversation with a girl who was also a Capricorn and she said that we tend to hate commitment. Ain’t that the truth. But I’ve been particularly sick of the pattern of the ways my Friday nights have looked this summer.

I always go to the free concerts they have because I would feel bad if I didn’t go, I see all these people with their friend groups, I see all these beautiful women I’d like to talk to, and sometimes I do, but the situation doesn’t change. I’m free, sure, but I’m not there with anybody. I’m bound to nobody and recently I’ve been realizing the cost of that reality.

Yesterday was an intense day. I allowed myself a guilt-free sleep in because my throat was sore and I took that as a clue that I should be resting, so I rested. I went to the coffee shop, read The Four Hour Work for a chapter, made it downtown to buy the longboard I’ve been wanting since I got here and had that first date with Maria. After that I skated around and got that rare coffee bottle out of nowhere, the people at the shop said they’d missed me and I felt so lucky that they had.

I decided to make a lap around the block and go back to the car and get some stuff done on this day off of mine, but I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a while and skated over to say hello. She invited me to see the Lion King and I thought about how I’d been asking the universe for someone to see that movie with so I said yes. At the Lion King, she hushed me several times for laughing too loud or cheering too loud (at completely respectable parts of the film) despite the fact there were less than 20 people in the 350 seat theatre. When Mufasa showed up and thrashed the horde of Hyenas around I cheered and threw my arms up. She said “Shhhhh” and actually grabbed my arms and tried to put them down. I had to look her in the eyes and say “Don’t shush me!”, I felt weird for the rest of the movie. Maybe I just need rowdy friends at this point in my life. Maybe I’m “That guy” at movies, but I don’t care. I go to movies for the interactive aspect and I didn’t need her to be my mommy.

Then I went to the free concert and started to do my usual trick of wandering around and checking people out, watching a movie of my own life instead of actually living in it. It dawned on me why most people don’t do the things I do because it’s kind of painful to be by yourself in public. You start to wonder what's wrong with you. Maybe this is making me stronger, I think it is, but we’ll see.

I saw some girls I’d made friends with throughout the summer just from the fact that we seem to always be in the same spot without trying, but I didn’t feel very present in the moment with them. They’re great, it’s probably just me who’s blocking them off because of the Capricorn thing and commitment and all this invisible fear energy I might be giving off, I don’t know. But I skated back to my car to rid myself of the longboard and called my dad.

He got to hear me eat shit and scuff my arm and knee up. Now there’s no hair growing there. Earlier in the day, this beautiful girl I met while out dancing called me to see if I was working tonight because she wanted to take her boyfriend to Bluewater so that I could wait on them. And I thought about the secret and these scripts that we invent for ourselves, and that was mine. For years and years and years I’ve been writing this role for myself that is no more based in fact than if I were to tell myself that I’m a 200-pound purple elephant that I’m the nerdy kid on the sidelines. The ‘best friend’ who does not get the girl. I try to tell people that I feel this way and their response is “what the fuck?” and with good reason. Externally, I don’t look like that. Sure my eyes are pretty feminine and that leads to people thinking I’m gay sometimes, but in most other aspects I look like a jock. I have a great head of hair and a nice jawline. Externally I fit a lot of popular standards of beauty and I’m grateful for that, my life is a lot easier because of it. But it doesn’t match the way that I’ve been making myself feel for years and years and years and years.

So how do I change that? Well, I think the first step is to catch those thoughts when they come up and to realize that all I’m doing is telling myself a story and connecting abstract things and putting meaning into them. So what if I know someone I think is beautiful who has a boyfriend who wants to be my friend? Do I want to live in a world where beautiful people have to be together? No, that would be a nightmare because there will always be someone prettier or stronger or whatever than me. I also think I need to stop saying things like “Oh, this is a perfect metaphor for my life,” and then proceed to wallow in self-pity.

Self-pity is probably going to be the hardest habit to break, but definitely the most rewarding, so we’re just going to keep working at it. I went back to the concert and watched the last of the show by myself, but not before going into Slice of Life to get a couple of slices of pizza. Not Because I was hungry, but because I was feeling sorry for myself. While waiting at the bar for the pizza a couple of friends were talking in Spanish next to me. One of the women said to her friend I want his eyes! They're so pretty! In Spanish of course. And I had to say muchas gracias to let them know that I understood them, and of course, they were shocked because my skin is so pale, but we talked for a while and they were nice people.

Watched the end of the concert and ran into my buddy that I jam with sometimes. Talked with him for a minute but he was going home. I thought I could hang with him if I want to, but I don’t want to. Then I did something that I knew would bump me out but I did it anyway: I walked around downtown by myself in beach clothes and felt entirely removed from everybody, each step making me feel a little bit worse.

What the fuck was I hoping would happen? That two beautiful girls would just start talking to me out of nowhere? Well, they did. They had come for that collector cup of coffee. Well, not exactly. Griz, was playing in Wilmington in this event he called Grizmas in July and they were there for the rave. Completely bedazzled in glitter and bras and not much else. They were obsessed with the Ice Cream Cone I’d bought because again, I was sad and I knew I could work it off and still look great. They were tripping on Acid, they felt the need to inform me. That made a lot of sense.

I was really into one of them. That morning I had read about eye-gazing and was trying to do more of it, so while staring into her highly dilated pupils she stops the conversation and asks me if I’m gay. I tell her no. Bi? Still no. So you’re straight?? Yes, absolutely.

A more confident version of me would have let this roll off my back. I talk in a feminine way sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m still plenty masculine, but I wasn’t feeling very secure and I had to ask her why she even asked. She said I was very expressive with the way that I talked, that I was very emotional. Part of my brain immediately tried to concoct ways to look and sound more like a caveman. Looking back now, I understand how crazy that is. That I would so easily try to change who I am to impress this shiny person I just met. I get that that is not the way to do things. That the more I’m just myself and give less of a fuck about my need to impress other people, the more I’ll attract the people who are down with it. So I regressed a little at that moment, ah well. You live and you learn.

I walked around with them a little more but I had absolutely no idea what to do with myself. Another night I could have been so energetic, so creative that I know I could have created an adventure for us and we could have had an adventure. If I were on the road that probably would have happened. That’s something I’m trying to continue to remember, that I’m still on the road. That just because I have a bed to go home and sulk in, doesn’t mean that I have to.

When she popped that question about my sexuality I had to automatically think about the masturbation. How it was only two days since I’d broken my streak again, and when I’m a good 10 to 15 days strong people don’t ask that question. I thought about how when a man cums, a lot of feminine hormones are released into his body and I wondered if there was a correlation to the fact that I’d been masturbating almost every day since I was 11 and not feeling very masculine. That was the first time I’d ever had that thought.

(Writing that and putting it out on the internet is crazy, I know. But if you have a problem with then fuck you. I’m brave you’re not. I’m talking about what I’m going through. Think you could do the same?)

I made it home and my uncle caught me right before I went inside. “Man, I hope you’ve been out living it up for the both of us.” I wanted to tell him how I think I’m letting him and myself down and I don’t know how to change it. But instead we talked about the store, and our neighbor came over. We taught him the drums and I hopped on bass. My uncle was on guitar and we had a little rock band going on at 1 am on Saturday Morning.

All that camera sees is me going out, talking to pretty girls, and coming home and rocking out. Pretty fantastic right? I think so, I really do. I love my life. The only thing I don’t love is this ingratitude and the power it has over me. But I do love the power that words have to stamp it out and to look at my life objectively and realize that I am living the life I want, right here and right now. So why am I telling myself differently?

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