- I’ve never ridden a bike in my life. And the amount of miles I’ve driven a car is equal to or less than the number of years I’ve lived on this planet. Motion on wheels doesn’t make sense to me. Even riding shotgun or in the backseat of a car is enough to make me nervous.
- The number of sexual partners I’ve had can be counted on one hand with a finger to spare. It would have been two, but I am human and, therefore, am prone to make mistakes.
- My idea of a perfect date is staying at home with a good book and some distance between us. It’s not that I’m not interested in you. It’s not that I don’t want to know you. It’s just being around a person I like just leaves me thinking about all the ways I’ll inevitably screw this up. Because, you might say that you’ll take me as I am, but in truth you’ll take me as the illusion I’ve conjured up for you in the first place. Beneath this veneer, I’m more of a landfill than a mess that needs reordering. And while you’re writing out wedding vows in you head, I’m already signing the divorce papers in mine.
- If you ever see me reading this in front of a live audience, know that I’ve probably thrown up whatever was in my stomach in the restroom a few moments before signing up for the open mic. 12 years of public speaking has done nothing for my nerves. In fact, I am more nervous each time I stand in front of a microphone than the first time I stood on stage at the Nueva Ona Poet’s Cafe.
- I talk to my dead grandmother as one would talk to god. Usually when I’m asleep. Usually when my emotions aren’t in check.
- I started taking antidepressants a year ago after facing depression alone. A month’s worth left in my final refill, I haven’t taken a single one. And I’m not sure if that makes me stronger than I was before, or just more foolish.
- I am not currently seeing anyone. The you in #3 was a hypothetical, a royal you.
- These days I’m prone to fall into a quick, fickle sort of love for people who can hold my attention for more than ten minutes at a time. And those six hundred and fifty-nine seconds, I run the course of our relationship. What our children would look like. How the moments we’re alone would play out. A phone call from the grocery store to ask what we need and what we want for dinner. And most importantly, how and when it will end.
- I’m unsure if my jaded out look on romance is the byproduct of my parents’ divorce or my own shortcomings as an adult. Or if it’s because these days I put more importance in wondering about the next time I’ll get tacos rather than wondering when I’ll let myself fall in love again.
- If I were really honest with myself, I’d acknowledge the fact that I have fallen in love with someone. But she’s miles from me. And the love I have for her, this somewhat fashionista, is by far the most pure form of love I’ve ever held for a woman. And that is why she stands upon highest pedestal of my friendship.
- I have trouble looking into people’s eyes when I speak with them. Read several articles on why this happens, but nothing seems quite me. The closest reason is my fear of intimacy.
- Being a father scares me. This because every father figure I had left me before I came of age. My grandfathers died three years apart, and my father is more a stranger who just happens to own half of my genetic make up. While the fear can be deafening, I do my best. And each time my son’s eyes brighten up at the sight of me, I know I must be doing something right.
- I never hid my sexuality, nor have I ever been openly vocal about it. And while those close to me know of my affections, I’ve kept people at arm’s length while I told them only half the story.
- At the age of sixteen, I fell in love with a boy from Chicago. The emotion was both new and familiar. I never told him this.
- Most of the things I pass off as poems these days are better read while listening to the music I wrote them to. In this case, Mac DeMarco’s “My Kind of Woman.”
- There are moments I speak just to hear a familiar voice. What troubles about these moments is that the voice I hear doesn’t always sound like mine. It’s an echo from another time. Maybe a time that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe a time waiting in the corners.
- There’s only one time someone’s ever tried to set me up with a friend. It was a girl named Jade. Someone a friend of my was fucking between girlfriends. And she thought her friend would be perfect for me, but, and call me shallow, I have a type. The person must have read a number of books greater than the number of years they’ve existed. And these books must contain more than just required reading for schools. They must have a library card. And if not that, a Barnes & Noble membership. Or, better, be employed by Barnes & Noble. And when your name is Jade, chances are that your friends don’t meet a single one of my requirements. Also asking me when I’ll get back on the horse is equally as annoying as trying to set me up with someone. It demeans my decision of being single. And, yes, I understand that my confessions of crushes and having string of flings may confuse you. These things occur in order to remind myself that I am still human. That I still feel things. That I still have the capabilities to put myself out there event though I really don’t want to deal with the bullshit that occurs during courtship. Please understand that I’m not stranger to being alone.
- I can’t eat pineapple.
I’m wearing my sock inside-out. At a second glance, I realize that not only am a thirty-four-year-old man but a thirty-four-year-old man wearing BOTH his socks inside-out. By this time, you’d think I’d be a thirty-four-year-old man with some semblance of having his shit together. And I wonder when exactly one starts feeling like an adult, because, legally, I’ve been an adult for the last sixteen years of my life. And, yes, I opened a calculator app on my computer to figure out the math. And, yes, I accidentally opened the Hulu app before doing so. And, yes, I am the type of thirty-four-year-old man who keeps his Hulu app right next to his calculator app because why the fuck not?
There’s a scene from a Ben Stiller movie that unnerves me. It unnerves me because how much I relate to it. In it, Josh (played by Ben Stiller) and his wife, Cornelia (played by Naomi Watts), sit side-by-side after the movie’s events come to a close. A defeated Josh turns to Cornelia and confesses to her, “For the first time in my life I’ve stopped thinking of myself as a child imitating an adult.” Understanding where he’s coming from, she responds, “You feel that way too?”
And here I am. A thirty-four-year-old man with his fucking socks inside-out. Trying to figure out the secret to adulthood. Wondering why it hasn’t revealed itself. Moments reveal themselves where my mind still goes into shock about being a father. Five years have come and gone. Still, there are moments where the I’m awestruck that this kid is mine. That he’s half of me. A byproduct of a love that feels like a lifetime ago. I remember a time when he didn’t exist, but cannot fathom a world in which he doesn’t. He keeps me somewhat grounded. Keeps me from moving to far into the dark corners of my depression. Corners I know all too well. Corners that beg me to visit. Corners holding the knife. The plastic bag.
Shit. I don’t have the answer. Suppose I never will. Maybe that’s o.k. Maybe that’s what being an adult is? Acknowledging that we don’t have the answers to the questions that keep us up at night? Because, to quote the greatest philosopher of the late twentieth century, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And there are far more important things that worrying about petty-ass shit like wearing your socks inside-out and how that makes you a low functioning adult.
There are moments when I stare up at the night’s sky and feel truly insignificant. The speck of carbon standing upon a rock trying to convince itself to the vastness of the universe that it matters. That it has a purpose. Nothing scares me more than imagining a world without me. How it all goes away with a blink of an eye. Maybe that’s why humanity is fast to hold on to their gods and conjure up new ones.
I spent a lot of my days being angry. Or being sad. Or being uncertain. Questioning my actions and the actions of others. Doing my best to balance the world on my shoulders. Focusing on the what ifs and the maybe whens, but never in the now. I turned thirty-four Monday, and I’m not sure if others are better at life than I am. Or if they’re just better at pretending they are.
There are moments when the anger boils over. When the cool, calm, collected me weighs in. “Remember, holding on to a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”
“My grudges matter!” I shout out into the infinite. “My anger for being replaced by the woman I vowed to love with every fiber of my being. My anger at the man who abandoned me. The man who didn’t teach me what it’s like being a man. I’m angry at my grandfathers for dying too soon. The grudge I hold for the girl who only remembers me when no one else dares speak her name. These petty, miniscule problems that don’t add up to a footnote in the grander scheme—they matter.”
I fucking matter!
I press up against the wall of the church. Not the same one I attended in my youth, but it holds the same name. I sputter out a cough, a sigh. A muffled, panicked yell. Is this why people turn to religion? Is this what it’s all about? The great lie that we are more than what we are? Designed in the image of a creator? Its children? All for the sake to pretend we continue existing after we have pass into the unknown?
Someone once asked me if I ever considered going back. If believing seemed easier than just living. And it’s something I thought a lot about in the past. Not these days. These days I’m a Hemingway-ian character. The man waiting for devoutness to take him. But it never comes. Not like it did for the people in his family.
To quote Art Alexakis, “Livin’ isn’t a simple thing.“
I suck in a breath. Steady myself. Push myself from the catholic brick and continue on. A crutch. Something I haven’t needed in years, no matter how vulnerable. No matter how broken. No matter how lost I felt.
I spent a lot of my days angry. Angry at the man who left me as a child. Angry at the fact that I didn’t hold on to the woman I loved. Angry at the fact that I allowed someone selfish into my life because I’m a sucker for a cute face and an act of innocence. Angry at myself for not being better than this. Angry at all those who crossed my path and left me longing for their presence. And all these things matter.
Mattered to me.
Because looking up at the night’s sky. Feeling so small, so insignificant in the expanse of the entire universe. Knowing that on some distant planet there is a person just like me staring at his night’s sky and feeling that existential crisis that I’ve felt every day since the concept of my mortality was introduced. They just don’t feel all that important, you know?
One day, I will cease to exist. And while that scares the living shit out of me every night, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. So I’ll embrace death with an open heart. I’ll let it in when it asks. I don’t pretend to know the truth; that’s part of reason I’m an atheist.
Maybe someday, religion will find me. Or I’ll find some form of a higher power. Maybe I’ll be at peace in my meditation or prayer. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.
For now, at thirty-four, I’m content enough to just find my importance while feeling so damn insignificant.
There are so many words I want to say. To write. Words I want you to hear and read. And I’ve typed this post several times become conceding that this isn’t the forum for any of them. One day, you’ll find what you need in this world. One day, you’ll be brave. Today isn’t that day. So until then, my friend, I’ll one say one thing to you. One word.