Drinking french pressed Folgers from a three-day crusted mug reading “World’s Best Boyfriend” in boring black block letters, joking about which one of us earned the title as he hands the mug to me. This is the first morning with Folgers in my cup.
“No woman would walk through the front door of this house,” he says.
The carpet is layered in a consistent, however thin, layer of mud, balling and bunching up where feet pass most consistently, like scuttled pieces of earth trash. There are wadded clothes next to folding chairs, scraps of paper folded or in poorly arranged on virtually any surface, empty bottles mostly contained in a paper grocery bag or on the kitchen counter, a few strays in a corner or underneath some clothes, beside direct mailer cigarette coupons. 80% of the decorations are related to baseball. I wake to peanut shells all over my back, broken.
I only remember my dreams for the first ten minutes I am awake. My dreams are almost always in the sun, running ragged like island castaways or loose sheaths of paper flapping like a chained-up flag in the light autumn wind of a downtown cross walk when a briefcase falls open and I can’t help but stand there in that assemblage of characters, colors and light, because I am never bored, never hungry, mostly effervescent, and I am mostly sure I have the same dream every night and the principals and plot just changes, always a threat to avoid or a pleasure to seek, gluttonless and painless although occasionally riddled with fear, it eases down when reality snaps in.
And the reality is that things are far from perfect. Reality stated inarticulately, the cobbled collage of newspapers and news broadcasts, summarizing human activity of note is not the real world. That sort of preying white guilt of I had no idea there was a civil war there will bring you any closer to where you want to be nor will a calculated conversion to a gluten-free, vegan diet bring you any closer to how you actually want to feel, and hoping and wishing and wanting and thinking ends up as nothing more substantive than idle chatter, or deflating air, leading to a spectral paralysis over cheap wine and a frozen dinner, pressing F5 on life and everything looks the same still, sitting in the same chair as always, the reality being only overgrown teenagers think autobiographically. The reality being that my clothes don’t fit, they smell bad, I (assuredly) smell bad, I’m not good for anyone but myself today, and possibly not even that, a figure far from this town’s belated social hierarchy that acts as if it weren’t a hierarchy at all, new (old) friends thumbing daisies by not shaving or showering, taking an ill-advised sense of pride in how-fucked-up-things-may-be, independence declared and then immediately, intentionally squandered, street life imitating art, aiming for widespread acceptance adoration, so I find mercy flailing within myself and I hold it down, and though I may be just a deadbeat servant to what those with careers don’t want to do, potentially crawling towards a singular dereliction, I love my life today, and my heart pops open, and the light floods in.