Tonight I sat in Coffee Exchange and read the rest of Steppenwolf. I looked at the four girls sitting in the corner. I thought that maybe one of them was smiling at me. I smirked to myself about the one in the front right corner who was reading a comic book and had a pink thing in her hair. I was overwhelmed with the beauty and intricacy of Hesse's words and wanted to yell in passion to myself "O Rosa! O departed youth! O Goeth! O Mozart!"
Tonight I sat in Coffee Exchange and drank a chocolate milk. Before finishing Steppenwolf, I decided to ride my bike home. I rather impulsively and out-of-character decided to take a side street home and listen to music and bask in the city I was born in. The moon reflected on to the clouds and, for a moment, I was more happy than I had been in weeks. A Mercury hatchback pulled up to the side of me and in a second's mistake I was shot and left to die on the corner of Blacklidge and Cherry.
Tonight I sat in Coffee Exchange and didn't know why I had ended up there. I sat awkwardly in the corner and couldn't muster the attention to read the rest of Steppenwolf. In a submerged burst of guilt I got in my car and drove away. I cried and cried and cried. There is something wrong with me, I told myself. I began to feel the pressure of the culture pushing against me from all directions. I thought about talking to my mom earlier that day and it all began to come back to me. I remembered how easily I’d forgotten how robbed I’ve felt from a childhood. How I'd forgotten that I spent the better part of my adolescence sitting in front of a monitor chatting on IRC, gaining imaginary positions of imaginary power. I had forgotten why I cried when I first listened to "Rhapsody in Blue" in full at the Ranch. The simply beauty of being alone and watching the colors change in the sky had become so far diluted in my complacency of today that I felt I’d forgotten everything I loved about being human. I told my mom how much I envied her younger self for being able to find refuge in school and art and music. I thought about how everything makes me sad. How I get sad on the computer. How I hate the life the thing sucks out of me. How I want to leave this town so bad and find a new. How I want to say hi to people on the street, want to go to the beach on a weekend. I want to make a mixtape for someone I’ve never met. I began to cry, and cry, and cry and I thought about how Kyle is dead, and it’s just not fair. And Danny is dead, and it’s just not fair. I thought about Matt and how beautiful and intricate of a writer he was and how he struggled to form a coherent sentence only a year later. I woke up in my car driving to find that I had once again been looking at my life, however intently, through a magnifying glass and again missed the big picture. My rent and my car and my degree. I got on the computer that day hoping that girl from middle school had written me back, while I sickeningly thought about sex and death wondered why I was sitting in that awful room. I told myself I shouldn’t have had coffee that day, I told myself I shouldn’t have turned on the computer, I told myself I should have gone for that run, I told myself I should have talked to that girl in the coffee shop who I thought was smiling at me. I told myself to be grateful because my childhood is dead or dying and I've had it so much better than the rest. I got home and sat in the garage for a few minutes. I walked though the living room and told Alex I was fine and tired and had a long day and that I was going to bed, Goodnight.
Tonight I sat in Coffee Exchange and was only a few pages away from finishing Steppenwolf when I ran into Kelly, a girl from middle school who I had written to on Facebook but had never written me back. She told me how she never cared too much for online messaging, which I admired and envied. She told her friends she'd catch up with them in a few and we talked about life since our adolescence. We laughed at the time we were both too drunk to take her home, and I had to call my friend Lloyd to sneak out the back of my house and drive my car to take her home. How embarrassing for her, that we left her at her doorstep. We laughed and I no longer held my year-older superiority over her head. We liked the same music and I rather impulsively and out-of-character asked if she wanted to go to a park I knew about in a neighborhood near Blacklidge and Cherry. As we walked we took a side street and talked about old friends and basked in the city we were born in. She asked me about Kyle, who was dead, I told her it wasn't fair and she agreed. Turns out she also knew Matt, but never of how beautiful and intricate of a writer he was. We got to the park and, at least in my mind, somewhat ironically sat on the curb surrounding it. I met Matt at the Ranch, I said, and I told her a short conversation we had on a camping trip outside of Douglas, which I for some reason remember very vividly:
"I want to visit all those stars," Matt said to me, "and go a google miles per hour," and paused, "in the Millenium Falcon."
I laughed at the reference and said "Yeah, but... you'd probably explode, or get liquefied by a supernova or something."
"That's science! Screw science," he said to me, "science is the only thing keeping us from reaching those stars."
I knew Kelly wasn't affected by the the story the way I was, but she chuckled all the same. We walked back to Coffee Exchange. I offered to drive her to her friends but she declined, but we exchanged phone numbers and I went home feeling sad and accomplished.
Tonight I sat in Coffee Exchange and turned on my computer but it wouldn't connect to the WiFi. I laughed at myself and my pathetic modernness, and in an attempt to justify my trip bought a chocolate milk. I sat and read the ending of Steppenwolf. As I shut the book to the table, Kyle walked in spastically as he always did, our eyes caught and he sat down at my table. He asked me how I was. I told him fine, except that I got a flat tire at the corner of Blacklidge and Cherry and had to walk myself here. He was as kindhearted and well-mannered as he'd always been. I confessed to him the beauty and intricacy of Hesse and Matt's writing. I told him how I was sorry that after the Ranch I had never talked to him as a friend again, and that I still felt some slivers of guilt for not attempting to save him before he died. He forgave me, and smirked and told me the girl in the corner was smiling at me. He said how he's since had the chance to find refuge in school and art and music and thinks I should do the same. Alex texted me, concerned, asking where I was and I told him I was fine but tired and would soon be going to bed, Goodnight. Kyle and I laughed about my adolescent obsession with "Rhapsody in Blue," and I told how he was one of only three friends of mine who was there the one time I played it in full. Before he left I told him I wanted to share something he reminded me of because we'd both grown up in the same city. It was the very end of a poem I wrote in my journal from the Ranch on a camping trip outside of Douglas. I told him it wasn't the best but one of the more honest things I felt I'd written to myself. I said to him:
tucson, arizona and orange twilight
stars and coronas in the muggy desert night
this is the place i dream and dread: home
land of the gleams of sad and dead tones
I knew Kyle wasn't affected by the the poem the way I was, but he chuckled all the same. I told him I was sorry about everything, walked my bike home, and basked in the city I was born in.