Fireworks

    I was hanging out with my parents. My parents were having a thing, it was the Fourth of July, you know, so they had people over, they had everybody over, they were having a thing. I liked my parents, they were fine.

    So everybody came over, they’re all from my mom’s side, everybody came over, it was fine. But, you know, we all like to drink, so everybody came over and we were drinking and it was fine. But it was always fine until it wasn’t.

    At the end of the night I was hanging out with my dad and my uncle, everybody had left. My dad doesn’t drink anymore, he said, “what did I say?” My sister had left in a huff, and he didn’t know what he said, I kinda knew what he said, but it wasn’t a big deal, she overreacted, she got like that. 

   Later, I was hanging out with my mom and she said, “well he knows how she is when she’s drinking.” But we were all drinking, he didn’t drink anymore, but he had ideas, he had beliefs. We had opposing beliefs from him, he wasn’t talking about that. But it was always a comment away from becoming about that. So she left in a huff. My mom said “he knows how she gets.” 

   Everyone knew how everyone got, but it never made it any better, it always ended like that, it never ended with a song. 

Register

   I was there too, I was in line with them. Hard to say I was just an innocent bystander. I was there just as much as they were.   

  But I had the decency to never reproduce, give me that at least. At least I didn’t bring a clan of mini savages with me, and at least I wasn’t yelling a very personal conversation into my phone while ignoring the savages as they ran amok. Throwing hula hoops at each other and anyone else who crossed their paths, screaming across the store to the asshole who brought them into this world about some bullshit toy they wanted, as the asshole ignored them and yelled a very personal conversation into their phone, while their stomach drooped past the bottom of their shirt. Give me that, at least I didn’t bring all that, I just brought myself, give me that.  

   I had to have headphones in, I took out my headphones for a few seconds to focus on a text. I took out my headphones to concentrate and I heard the asshole’s personal conversation and the screaming savages and everyone else’s bullshit, and I understood mass shootings. I didn’t have a gun, but I understood mass shootings in that moment. 

  But I was there, I chose to be there. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I could’ve went somewhere else, but I went there. The sunglasses came in cool colors, and although the phone cases were dirt cheap, they were sturdy as fuck, so I decided to go there, I made that choice, I’ll concede that. 

  The guy at the register was old, too old to be the register guy at this place. Aloof teens should have been the only ones manning the register in such a god forsaken establishment. Instead it was this old man. He grinned at the behavior of the mini savages at one point, I was blown away. I was still somewhat young, and didn’t even work the register here, and I now understood mass shootings. Yet this old man, working an aloof teens job, grinned at these savages. He grinned as if to say, “kids, amirite?” But I thought they were complete savages. I was rooting for one of them to somehow get hurt by the hula hoops they were fucking with.

  I was there too, there was absolutely no denying that. I didn’t have to be there, I could’ve ordered a phone case and sunglasses online. That was the truth, I could’ve done that. But I was there. I was there with my nose up in the air, my eyes rolling back until I could see my brain. My higher functioning brain, higher than these savages and that fuckin asshole on the phone. Higher than the old man working an aloof teen’s job. Higher. Even though I was there too, even though I was also waiting in line. I could’ve left at any moment, I could’ve walked right out the door. 

Backpack

It’s not that it wasn’t fun or whatever. It was good. It was fun. It wasn’t completely ruined or anything, it was still a good time.
That being said…there were times, challenging times, even before we called it quits, it got challenging.
The flight home was particularly challenging, it was like twenty hours or something like that, so it was a long time and a lot of emotions were happening. Well not really a lot of emotions, not a great range, mostly one emotion.
It was almost as if we were slowly breaking up for two weeks, and the plane ride home was like a countdown to it being officially over. So the last two weeks were pretty challenging, but at least we were still in it, we were still together and enjoying ourselves half the time. There wasn’t much to enjoy on the plane, it was just long, and sad, and finalizing.
It wasn’t just that we were calling it quits, but the whole trip was over. Back to responsibilities and making choices aside from what to eat. Two months, and it was over, and we were over, and we started ending it with two weeks still to go. And the plane ride was like twenty hours.
There was crying and whispering, trying to keep everything between us, luckily the plane was like half empty. We wanted to land, but we weren’t ready to go back yet.
The last two weeks were challenging. A lot of speculation of what we would do once we landed, where we would each go once we landed. It was challenging, and we kept making out and almost having sex, then stopping. In the last two weeks there was a lot of dry humping followed by masturbating in our respective bunks.
It was still fun, but the whole trip was challenging. Living in hostels, riding on trains and crammed buses, hot, just being hot all the time. Smelling most of the time, being sticky, but it was fun.
We went from being in a semi long distance relationship to spending every waking moment together, being hot, and sticky, and smelling most of the time, but having fun, but being challenged. Tested.
There were factors, there were many factors. Spending every day with a person for two months straight in country where we didn’t know anyone else was a challenge, and a big factor. And we almost made it. But then we didn’t, and we still had the two weeks, and we still had the twenty hours.
So we landed after twenty hours. And my phone was still on some temporary roaming plan where I couldn’t make calls, and her phone was dead, so it took us an hour to find our ride, so it was twenty-one hours. The last hour was mostly exhaustion and anger and frustration, so I guess there were more emotions after all.                                   So we went home. I sat up alone and there was only one person I wanted to talk to. It was a challenge, because she was the only person I really talked to for two months and twenty-one hours, although the last hour was just me furiously complaining about cell phones. I forgot how to speak to other people. People asked questions, but I only wanted to talk to one person. But the whole thing was about doing something that was uncomfortable, doing something that was a challenge.
Not texting her was a challenge. Laying in bed that first night home was as uncomfortable as a twenty hour flight or a crammed, hot bus. It was less fun than those last two weeks.

Girls With Strange Names

    My alarm would go off at 430, everything would still be dark, and I’d just be like “fuck, still? I still have to do this?” And that’s how it was for the entirety of our relationship. I’d wake up before the sun and just feel like, “fuck…” As I started driving in, I would think, “maybe I’ll get into a wreck and I won’t have to go in today, wouldn’t that be awesome,” but it never happened. She was away at school about 86% of the time, so it wasn’t like I was waking up next to a beautiful, warm body, I was just waking up and feeling “fuck.”
    My exes name was pretty standard, but it had a twist, a nice lemon twist. She had a “Y” where most white people with her name used an “I.” So it was different, she was different. She had a lemon twist, and a “Y” where there was typically an “I,” she was intriguing and smart and hilarious, stunning, but she was also intense, felt a good many feelings, intensely. It wasn’t easy. Not being white was a lemon twist as well, but in a way I hadn’t considered, I wouldn’t say that was the main reason she was my ex, but it wasn’t not the reason.
   People told me interracial relationships were hard, but I would say, “pfffffft, it’s 2014-2016, wake up people, it’s merely a lemon twist!” And it was to a certain extent, but a more complex lemon twist, a lemon-lime twist, the kind of twist that could make your lips pucker. We ended on good terms, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments of puckering towards the end.
      I wasn’t waking before the sun anymore, I was waking up whenever I wanted. Funemployment the kid’s were calling it. I was however still waking up cold. Waking up next to a beautiful, warm body was down from 14% of the time to 0%, due to the puckering. When I decided to finally rise for the day, I would go to a local urban farm where I volunteered most of my free, sober time.
    The first girl I hooked up with, post puckering and lemon twists, was named after a famed European city, but she was American, borderline southern. We met at the Jersey shore, she did farm things as well, that was my in. She had a ridiculous voice, almost cartoonish, but she was a delight to look at, and even a greater delight to roll around the sand with. I didn’t even mind her unshaven legs, like her name, they had a strange appeal. She was couch surfing and wasn’t comfortable having sex on a public beach or her friends living room couch, so we never consummated. I never fully recovered from the blue balling of that weekend. But I’m confident that if I ever found myself near the borderline south, I can pay a visit to the famed European city.
   The girl who snapped my drought was actually a friend of the famed European city, and her name, well her name actually sounded quite Southern. But I think she was from like Connecticut or something, go figure. Her name sounded like hospitality, or a tire swing next to a rickety old porch, or sweet tea, or a pie made with some berry you’d never heard of before. We were hanging out at another mutual friend’s birthday party, a few months after my fling with the famed European city. We were back at our mutual friend’s house later on that night, and the dog kept trying to cock block me, every time she would touch my dick, the dog came over and use it’s mouth to throw a pillow on my face and started barking. The dog eventually left us alone, but I was like fuck, what has to happen for me to get laid. This drought was lengthy, and I really needed this sweet tea, this farkleberry pie. I wasn’t particularly attracted to her, maybe that’s why I didn’t remember exactly where she said she was from, or any other information about her at all.
      I had to wake up again, but the sun was up when I did, so it wasn’t all bad. The pay was bad, I guess when you were limited, you had to wake up before the sun to make decent money, who knew. The farm wasn’t able to employ me, but the restaurant that bought there produce was, so suddenly I was a cook. I had zero professional kitchen experience, so I was uneasy, felt like a fraud. I dreaded every order that came in.
     I was seeing my future sister in law’s best friend. She had a boy’s name with a few extra “e’s” added to make it sound feminine. I was a fan of that. The sex was phenomenal. The conversation, less than thrilling. This was a delicate situation. Not too long before that, before the farkleberry pie, I was in a Californiaesque drought, I remembered how tough it was out there, most girl’s had regular names. She was one of my future sister in law’s bridesmaids, I was one of my brother’s groomsmen. We were gonna be walking down the aisle together at their upcoming wedding. This was a delicate situation. We were fucking around for like a month or so, and it was feeling pretty casual, I felt like she wasn’t looking for that, perhaps because she mentioned she wasn’t comfortable with a casual relationship after the first time we had sex. I made her a nice birthday card, but wasn’t taking her on dates or talking to her often or anything like that. I figured if i kept this up any longer, I was skating along the edge of being a pretty shitty person. The longer I kept up this charade, the more awkward walking down the aisle at my brother’s wedding would be. The sex was phenomenal, she was quite attractive. But the conversation…less than thrilling. I had an out, I had just started cooking professionally. I pulled the “its not you, it’s me,” but with a lemon twist. I said, “it’s not you, it’s not me, it’s the job. Too much stress, too many hours, I don’t know what I’m doing, it wouldn’t be fair to you. I couldn’t be as present as I would want to be in a more than casual relationship.” Hook, line, and sinker, I couldn’t believe how well that worked. Nobody was hurt, but I was back out there.
    I woke up hungover and went to this party where I didn’t think I was going to know anyone, I was dreading it all day before going there. Ended up having a blast, I met this girl who I kinda met a few times before, but had never had a conversation with. I just assumed she wasn’t interested, but on that day she was interested from the second I walked in. She was named after a color, and not some bland primary or secondary color, it was a tertiary, or whatever comes after tertiary, color. We hung out, danced, talked, all that jazz, the entire party. She was smart, and was the kind of hot only rich girls could pull off, charismatic, and kind of annoying, but I was very drawn in. I was in the beginning stages of what felt like could be another substantial drought, who was I to knit pick just because she was harmonizing without jest with her sister to a Mariah Carey song. She was a Manhattanite, openly and knowledgeably talked about the anatomy of the vagina and how orgasms worked, you know that kind of girl, the type that’s named after a tertiary color. After the impromptu anatomy lesson, I figured I was in. After I dropped her off at the train and we exchanged numbers and later got one of those dumb ass emoji things sent to me, I knew I was in. A few party goers even went out of their way to say things like, “by the way, you’re totally in.” I texted her some pedestrian joke about my terrible spelling a few days later, trying to get a conversation started, and she didn’t answer me for a day, when she did answer, she was short and uninterested. I was baffled. These storm clouds were a fake out, they passed right over, leaving me parched and smoldering.
   I had to wait for a girl named after a poem, or the wind, or something to come along now. Who knew how long that would be. I didn’t have many options at work, but they finally hired a real looker as a waitress. I felt like we were flirting a good deal, but then she mentioned something about a firefighter boyfriend. This wasn’t surprising, she had a pretty regular name, girl’s with regular names loved firemen, and dudes in the army. Heros. I was no hero, I wanted to wake up when I felt like it.

Lemonade Stand

Seriously, who am I? Who am I to give this guy any shit? We’re all on this train alone, I’m gonna judge this guy? I’m gonna judge this guy because he’s old and fat? I’m gonna judge this guy because he’s old and fat and looks homeless and has a jug of pink lemonade? I’m gonna judge this guy because he’s old and fat and looks homeless and has a jug of pink lemonade that he knocked over while he was sleeping? Who the fuck am I? I’m gonna judge this guy?  Because he knocked over this pink lemonade and it’s flowing down the entire length of the train and looks like the Nile River? I’m gonna judge him? Because the pink lemonade split the train in two? Have I seen the Nile River? Has he? I don’t think so, so neither of us has seen it. So who the fuck am I? I’m gonna judge this guy? I’m on some kinda superior Staten Island train? Some higher train than this fuckin guy? Why? Because I’m younger and thinner and have options in life? Do I? Is that why? What, I’m gonna judge him? We’re on the same train. So what’s the difference, really? I had a lemonade stand when I was younger, sure, it wasn’t much money. Now I’m grown, and not a whole lot is different in that regard. I’m on the train, and I’m not going back to my own place, and I’ve never seen the Nile, and I bet he’s never seen the Nile, but who am I to judge? Maybe he has, I don’t know this fuckin guy, I’m gonna judge him? Sure he spilled a jug of pink lemonade, sure it split the train in half like the Nile, sure he’s old, and fat, and looks homeless, and he spilled the pink lemonade, sure. But who the fuck am I? I’m on the other side of the river, I’m taking train too at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday. I’m going somewhere. He’s going somewhere. And who the fuck am I anyway? Get real, we’re both going somewhere, and it ain’t the Nile. I got off before him, by that time he picked up the jug of pink lemonade, but who cares, it left a stream, like the Nile River, but who cares. I got off before him, and he got after, and we both had less lemonade, so what did it matter.

You Know What I’m Saying

It’s that thing, it’s like that thing. You know the feeling, you know, you’re at a party or at work or some shit, and you meet this person and you’re like “fuck, woah, what the fuck is this about.” And you get excited, you get too excited, but you play it cool, because you have to. You have no other choice but to play it cool. Not playing it cool would mean losing that feeling. And let’s face it, that’s the best feeling, you’re talking to this person and you’re like “wait a minute…” That’s the best.

But let’s face it, even if it goes well, and you play it cool, you don’t know this person. You like to think they’re thinking “holy shit,” but the vast majority of the time they’re thinking, “I wonder what’s the quickest way home if I leave in a half hour,” or “how late is that taco truck open,” or they’re thinking “holy shit.” But it’s usually the taco truck. And you can’t really blame them, because they don’t know you. Not that it would matter if they did.

That’s the thing about that thing, that feeling. Even when the stars align and all parties involved are feeling that thing, and they have that feeling, sooner or later they’re going to know you, at least some of you and that’s no good, because you get too excited. And “wait a minute…” turns into “can you gimme a fuckin minute!” it turns into “can I get a fuckin word in!” it turns into “you’re putting words in my mouth.” And nobody is playing it cool anymore, everyone is playing a game of is this still worth it, and even when it isn’t, you still hold on, because who wants to wait for the next time lighting strikes and you get that feeling. The next time you think “woah, what the fuck is this, wait a minute.” Because even if you do think that, they’ll likely be thinking of tacos. And you don’t want to wait for the stars to align, and why would you. That thing doesn’t happen very often, and time alone is mostly spent drifting towards and around insanity. It’s mostly spent drifting around thoughts of that thing.

Drinking With Dogs

It felt like you were doing something, and at the end of the day that’s all you were looking for. You just wanted to feel productive, like you were contributing to the greater good in one way or another. It was something you could put on a resume, so fostering dogs wasn’t nothing, however it rarely felt like work.

It beat drinking by yourself, that’s for sure, you did that for long enough, and sooner or later you had to start asking yourself some tough questions. And let’s face it, you’d rather stare at these pups than stare in the mirror.

It may not have felt like work, but hey, they weren’t gonna let themselves out of their crates to piss. You got thumbs, and that was something.

It wasn’t like they were plants or robots, these guys and gals had personality, hell, you could call them guys and gals. Fritz, the main guy, your permanent one, was a real shit. Cute as fuck, but a real shit. But you loved him, and you forgave him for being such a shit. But if ever it did feel like work, it was usually because of him. He was the jealous type, and small as fuck, you never saw a dog who hated other dogs like Fritzy hated every other dog he came across. You would say to him, “why can’t you just play like every other dog on the god damn planet, why are you such a shit?” And he would jump up and lick your face, and keep licking your face. With some dogs it went beyond hate, the second he saw them all his hair would stand straight up and he wanted to kill them. But he wasn’t killing anything, because he was a little shit. He would bully the smaller fosters, and try it on the bigger ones until they eventually had enough of his shit and would beat his little ass. You would say to him, “how many dogs need to beat your ass before you get that you’re a little shit?” And he would jump up and maniacally lick your face.

Patches, the latest long term foster, put Fritz in his place the other day after Fritz was bullying a little guy. Fritz yelped and bared his teeth, but Patches just calmly held him down as if to say, “look at you, you’re such a shit,” and you laughed and sipped your beer, because Fritz had it coming.

Patches was choice, he’d seen some shit in his day, was locked in a trailer somewhere in the sticks with a bunch of other dogs. He was scared shitless of you when you first got him. You couldn’t go within 5 feet of him or he would whine out of pure fear,  shake uncontrollably, and his stomach would make this crazy rumbling noise. You didn’t know exactly what the previous owners did to him, and you didn’t really wanna know. But now he slept on your head at night and he’d whine when you weren’t petting him.

Outside of work, you spent about 87% of your time with dogs. And not at dog parties with other dog owning humans. Only dogs. You felt justified for talking to yourself so much. You just said all the bullshit that came out of your face to them, then told them how cute and stupid they were. So it felt more like a give and take. And if they barked you would say, “shuttt upppp,” then you would pet their faces. They would keep you up sometimes with their barking, but hey, nobody’s perfect.

You’d call all of them “buddy.” You’d say, “hey buddy,” “what’s up there buddy,” but then you took in a dog actually named “Buddy,” and boy, was that a confusing couple of days for everybody involved.

Patches recently got himself a little girlfriend, you teased him mercilessly, but it did’t phase him. They run around the yard, biting each other’s necks, while you’d leave Fritz in the bedroom. Fritz wouldn’t stand for other dogs enjoying themselves; Fritz the Fun Police, you’d call him.

Fritz loved eating shit. At first it was just his shit, now it was everybody’s shit. You’d catch him in the act and yell, “HEY,” and he’d get the last few bites before you ran over to stop him. You’d say, “Stop eating shit, you fuckin’ weirdo,” and he’d jump up and try to lick your face, but you’d swat him away because his breath smelled like shit.

Fritz and Patches tolerated each other, sometimes they’d attempt some form of playing, but Fritz was dumb and a shit, so he didn’t know exactly how to play. They were indifferent towards each other, but that’s all you could really hope for with Fritz. But they were your core crew for the time being, until Patches eventually gets adopted, but you didn’t want to think about that. For now, they were your guys, and you weren’t alone, ever if you were the only one drinking. Patches slept on your head, Fritz curled up at the back of your knee, he’d contour with how your leg would bend.

Sluggish

 

I was at the point that when I woke up, I felt every single beer from the night prior. Even if I just had like one or two with dinner, it weighed me down a tad the next day. So when I would have one or two an hour, while out with friends for hours on end, I felt like throwing myself off a bridge for the next three days. It was like someone laid concrete in your stomach and your head, and filled your pockets and shoes with wet sand, then chuckled at you for moving so slowly. And then forced you to re-watch your actions of hours upon hours of one or two beers an hour.

Last night was a one or two an hour nights, and  I was driving across a bridge earlier today to another friends surprise birthday party. I wasn’t going to know anyone  at this party except for the surprise-ee, so essentially I wasn’t going to know anyone there. I was feeling every single hour and feeling shaky, I crossed the bridge and had to pick up some beers, couldn’t show up empty handed. I hand to keep my hands occupied. It was like when you’re dancing and you’re white and you don’t know what to do with your hands, so you have one or two beers an hour, but just to keep your hands occupied.

So it was starting soon and I had already crossed the bridge. I went to a coffee shop to kill time and try to look interesting while reading a book and drinking a latte, but I was filled with dread and concrete and wet sand and replays of my actions. It was like when you’re having a forced conversation at a surprise birthday party, and you can see the disinterest in the person’s eyes, and you know you don’t have anything to say after the next thing you have planned to say, and you can feel their eyes kinda looking through you to see who they’re going to talk to next. So after you say the last uninteresting thing, you ask them if they want one of the beers you brought, but they say no thanks and pity you with a sigh and a smile, and you walk over and get a beer and mercifully let them go over to whoever it was their eyes drifted towards.

 

Wild Growing Flowers

The last panic attack I had was on Mother’s Day, well technically Mother’s Day night, well technically it was past midnight so it was the Monday after Mother’s Day. I was about to fall asleep, I went to bed. I was living with my sister and we had a few brews while watching the Yankees and at some point I said, “I’m so excited to sleep tonight, it’s gonna be great.” I had a few brews and I was so tired, I had far too many brews the night before and was hungover all of Mother’s Day. I had too many brews the night before and stayed up until 6 in the morning. I woke up a little before 11 and went down to where our childhood house used to be and picked some wild growing flowers for Mother’s Day. So me and my siblings went to my parents house and we all gave her flowers, separately, we had never done that before. She said “wow! I’ve never had so many flowers!” We never got her much of anything for Mother’s Day, just our presence and my dad would make a cake or something. But this year we all got flowers, separately, unplanned. So take that for what it’s worth. And we did that and it was fine, we gave her some flowers and ate cake and talked about stuff and it was fine, the cake was quite good, cheese cake, my mom put the cake dishes out and attempted to serve the coffee, but the coffee wasn’t ready yet, so we had the cake without coffee, but it was still quite good. Blueberry compote on top, it was warm and the cheesecake was cold. My dad thought he fucked up the graham cracker crust, but it held just fine. My sister left because she had dogs to tend to. Me and my brothers hung around for a little while longer, but eventually left. I left and headed to my sisters, I was staying in the basement. A few days earlier I roasted garlic in olive oil at my sister’s house, so now I had a jar of garlic flavored olive oil and roasted garlic, in the same jar, it was fantastic. I used it with almost everything. I went back to my sister’s and I made some biscuits, and I made some eggs, and I used the garlic oil and some garlic cloves to fry the eggs, and put them on top of a freshly made biscuit with some kimchee. It was quite good, almost as good as the cheese cake with the blueberry compote. The blueberries were warm. I worked with a chef who showed me the roasting garlic in oil trick, I loved it, used it with almost everything. He said “make sure you refrigerate it, because it can actually cause botulism if kept at room temperature. And that’s actually pretty serious.” So I made a bunch a few days before Mother’s Day, and put it in a jar and forgot about it for 10 minutes or so. No big deal, it had to cool down anyway. I used it to sauté some kale a few days before Mother’s Day, and it was quite good, and I didn’t get botulism because I was keeping it in a fridge, except for the 10 minutes I forgot about it. So I was at my sisters and I fried some eggs up with the garlic oil and a few cloves and had a few brews and watched the Yankees and I was so excited to sleep. I went down to the air mattress in the basement and I was so tired, I laid down and my stomach felt a little funny, almost as if I’d been drinking for two days, or I was dying of botulism, the disease thing I vaguely remember hearing about a few months prior. I decided it was botulism and forced myself to stay up, because otherwise I was going to die in my sleep, I was sure of it. My sister was a nurse, but more importantly she was no stranger to panic attacks. So she could easily talk me off this irrational ledge. I went upstairs and she was asleep on the couch. I got some water and went back downstairs, I was laughing to myself, I was laughing at myself, I knew I didn’t have botulism, but I was certain that I most definitely had botulism. It wasn’t Mother’s Day, well it wasn’t Mother’s Day anymore technically, but it was, because I hadn’t my slept yet. I felt myself drifting off, but I forced myself to stay awake. I googled “botulism in…” and garlic oil was one of the first things the search engine guessed. I was justified. The first words that I read in the search were “extremely rare,” but I was sure I was going to have all the symptoms. I researched for 10 minutes, I didn’t have any of the symptoms. I was laughing to myself, at myself. I was drifting off to thoughts of my own wake, people lining up to say sorry to my parents, tell them what a great guy I was. I pictured the chef who warned me about botulism telling my mom what a great worker and guy I was. But it wouldn’t mean anything, no amount of flowers would help. I couldn’t go to sleep because I knew what would happen, and it was Mother’s Day, even if technically it wasn’t anymore, I hadn’t slept yet.