If light is a rough third of what allows life to birth on planet earth, I suppose it’s not a far stretch to say that it can also be a third--if not more--of what brings ideas into being as well. Luminous amniotic waves, it coats cognitive calculation in photo-plasm and aids in shaping subsequent spawn. There has to be a reason an illustration of a guy with a lightbulb over his head means: “Boom! Whizz! Fuck yeah, I just figured some shit out!”
Even in the dark, our thoughts come to us illuminated. Even when we dream, neurons and chemicals can fire up like a Chinese New Year celebration, and put on a well lit theatrical piece behind shut shades of skin. Light’s what allows us to see, perceive, and process. And the way it’s shed on what we see, can have a profound effect on what is understood in our head and what we believe. Or, don’t believe for that matter... Perception of reception is ultimately up to the individual, as wavelengths and colors are filtered through apertures and gray matter unique to each of us. I guess it’s also up to the individual how much light they are willing to let in...
Open minds welcome wide horizons...
Blah, blah, blah... Fag.
My point is, the right light can lead to revelation. Or seeing the right light in the right way, can lead to revelation. I already did my dues dwelling on perception with the last bit on imagination. But again, internally it’s something to always remain aware of. Mostly, to not let it become too dangerous. To keep the aperture wide open, let in as much light/information as possible, and effectively filter through what’s worth keeping, and what’s worth dumping along with that hooker in your trunk, without shutting the shades in fear. And every once in a while, with that aperture wide, those waves of color can illuminate that gray matter in ways you didn’t think possible. Some people call it “seeing things in a new light”, “being enlightened”, or “having some light shed on the situation”. Both a physical phenomenon as well as an abstract one. And in an instance we can’t always see it, fortune can bring us friends to act as close conduits, and bend it for us in palpable, and sometimes blinding fashion. For example:
N: “Jesus Christ, Man. You look like shit. Again... Another rough one last night?”
P: “Yeah. Ran into ________ again at the bar last night. She shouted at me for about an hour, punched me in the face, and then got kicked out.”
N: “Ay Puto. So I’m guessing you drank until you puked, then continued binging on self-loathing and beer?”
P: “Yeah, guess it was a bit hard to explain to any other girl in the bar why some chick just Tyson’d me by the jukebox. So I figured I’d be better off alone with an armful of St. Paulie Girl.”
N: “Man, that shit seems to happen every week, you’re fucking miserable. I’m almost tired of looking at you. You drink like a fish to drown out the stress that work puts in your butthole, and then when you get a chance to get out and have fun, you end up swimming in a social-circle where the ugly sharks outnumber all the pretty fish. You ever consider that you might need to do something about it? Maybe get the fuck out of this water? You’ve made yourself the bait. I love having you around man, but you might need to get out of here, Puto. Shit’s not going to change unless you make it.”
N: “You know I’m right.”
P: “I feel edified.”
N: “That’ll be forty dollars. Now, hand me the remote. The Niners are playing, and as a fan, I’m obligated to watch Alex Smith fuck it all up for us.” *This was years ago by the way, in case you're on the A-Smith Train*
Often, we can get so used to a scene that we stop questioning it. Even if it’s miserable. Even if the simplest questions can provide the simplest answers. It can take something else to pose them. It can take some sort of beacon to show us something else; a liberating way out. Sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s an event, sometimes it’s a place. And sometimes it’s a combination of all three. Sometimes the new abstract light is accompanied by new physical light. In my case, bar light. More specifically, Side-Bar light.
And perhaps one of my brightest moments in that bar down below the hostel, was the moment when I realized:
I ain’t shit...
In fact, I even said it softly to myself through a smile on that barstool. And no, I didn’t mean it in the dejected, suicidal, I-should-eat-a-.45-for-breakfast, kind of way. It’s tough to smile with a .45 in your mouth... I meant it as someone beside himself with a sort of jubilance.
I’m somewhere new, and nobody knows me...
I actually got a chance to speak with “N” a couple of weeks ago, and serendipitously he brought up my former disposition in the San Diego bar scene. We put some back-light on it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love San Diego, and I love the bars there. I have had some of the best of times with the best of friends in them. But if you let it, it can really fucking wear you down. It’s a small city, in a small world. You see the same faces in the same places. And at the same time, they’re not always the friendliest. After a while they all start to know your name, what you do, who you’ve done, who you hang out with, how you dress, what your major in school was, where you live, etc. Eventually, you can start to become defined by all of that. Which can be taxing if certain groups tend to staple stigma to whichever of those elements they don’t necessarily agree with. Sometimes they even deck you...
As your worst critic, I feel like you had your hand on the most sizable stapler there, Buddy. Who gives a fuck what they think?
Well, I know that now. Like I said, I needed a different setting to show me some different lights....
In Side-Bar, I was defined by nothing. Except maybe for being a white guy with a black eye... *Which, considering it wasn’t garnered from a girl in a bar, was another point on the plus side for me.* Nobody gave a shit where I went to school, if I went to school, if I got laid-off, what I did for a living, what neighborhood I lived in. Shit, if I kept my mouth shut, chances were that they didn’t even know what country I was from. I was no longer that “broke and brokenhearted” kid on the radio who “pumped cock rock and steroids” because the character fit the show. Nobody even knew what the show was. I wasn’t shit, and most importantly, sans the reflection I saw of myself in old, familiar eyes, I wasn’t ‘shit’.
There was liberty in anonymity.
There, I was just a kid in a bar, looking to have fun. And as I glanced around the joyfully rioting room, I saw a collective of kids looking for the same thing. All from different parts of the globe. Any baggage they had was either left in whatever country they hailed from, or left up in their rooms in journals and duffle-bags. Like where I had chosen to leave mine for the time being... My dumb and dark bullshit had no more purpose in this light. We weren’t our histories, we were just people in the present, and I was in love with that moment.
Additionally, being in the present, without obligation to history seemed to make the future seem that much brighter and wider. I could look forward without feeling compelled to look back.
And yes, at this point I’m well aware that for the most part I allowed myself to be defined back in San Diego. I allowed myself to become that overworked ass-tulip on the radio. And in that circle, and others, I let the judgement get to me. I let the stigma work like stigmata. I took most of the sentiments to heart when I should have thrown them back in bitter faces with a stiff middle finger and a shrug of the shoulders.
And, I should have let up on pointing one of disappointment at myself so much of the time. I had almost begun to view my constitution as a ‘chicken or the egg’ paradigm. “Did I see myself as shit, and so therefore they did? Or did they see me as shit, so therefore I did?” Feeling far from back-brown in Side-Bar, I had to go with the former. But I’ll admit, it might have been a process of loss on understanding that, which started years before I started frequenting those bars back in SD.
Old habits die hard...
That being said--with my newfound affinity for anonymity--for most of the night, I kept to myself. I kept my mouth shut and enjoyed the party. I soaked up music, lights, and lager and sat back. I’d hang on the outskirts and watch Dick Von Disco cut up the wooden rug, until I eventually felt myself gravitating towards the center of the growing mass of dancing bodies. A sensation of elation fueled me through the night. All that mattered was being there. I was a human among humans, getting lost in the flood of high spirits and higher volume.
It doesn’t matter how you’re dressed, or where you’re from, or what you’ve done. Awesome...
And by the time the flood of booze opened up the gates of speech, the music was too loud to make whiskey words audible. That, in addition to the fact that the series of thick, indiscernible accents I’d hear from different girls made whatever was audible, pretty much incomprehensible between thumping bass and whiskey ears. Between both parties. There were a few conversations I had that went on for a couple minutes when I had absolutely no idea what was exchanged. We were like blind pen pals. There were episodes where my mind heard things that have probably never come out of any girl’s mouth in her life. I eventually just got into the habit of emphatically saying “Yeah!” and smiling at whatever was said. Asking her to repeat herself a third time wasn’t going to do much good. It seemed like a solid plan and to solicit a positive response most of the time. What were the chances she was going to ask something that really required a “no”? Sometimes the aforementioned head shake was met with a simper of ‘sorry’, and a slow exit.
Shit, that was it. She just asked if I was gay and then took off.
*I feel a shoulder hit from behind*
What the fuck!? Kevin? How do I always end up dancing next to One Man Stomp? No wonder... Fuck it! Bottoms up.
Your words carry the most of your weight, and these sound waves cripple their wings. Enjoy this place for a bit more, and retire.
Ironically, when the music was low enough for syllables to make audible sense. There was only one girl who trashed the opportunity like a pro. The lovely Tessa B. As previously mentioned, when we were both schlitzed like sailors and subject to tidal waves of heavy tunes, Tessa and I rode the them like a riot. It was rad. But sadly, in the more sober times of the day and early evening, Tessa had a knack for butt-fucking the most buoyant of moments and leaving it face down in murky death, much like that one British Petroleum company in the Gulf Coast. Or something of the sort... I tried to avoid it as much as possible.
She was miserable. Any attempt to cheer her up tended to bring you down. Any joyous joke made by a member of the surrounding group was stripped of its joyousness by whatever vitriolic sentiments she decided to voice. And half the time you couldn’t even make them out completely. You just had to judge that it was bitter, based on the sour face it spilled out of.
Good god, what sadness snake slithered up this one and died? It’s not like we’re in Fallujah. It don’t get it. She has a laugh that’s as contagious as it is captivating, but it seldom occurs, and when it does, it’s usually sandwiched between an incomprehensible slaughter of syllables maimed by a downcast, lazy mouth. And all I can think of, is that one Weird Al, “Smells Like Nirvana” video, where he mocks Cobain’s mumbles with a mouthful of marbles.
And then it clicked. And then it sucked even more. Her stinging sentiments stuck like a knife in places far closer to home than she may have meant them to...
She’s despondent. She complains all the time about her situation, yet does nothing to change it. If she’s that bored here, "go elsewhere". She’s consistently negative and is unrestrained in showering all of those around her with negativity. And when you ask her what’s wrong, she just mumbles some bullshit and shuffles around like a sad gimp in a rainstorm. And, it seems she’s only smiling when she’s smashed...
Oh, fuck. That’s totally been me.
Tessa had become a close conduit. One to bend the beacon onto a shitty act that I had been performing at times. I was able to see myself in her. And I immediately felt sorry for every amazing friend who had stuck with me through the years when I had been that sad gimp in a rainstorm myself. The times they all had to sit and hear me whinge about situations, work, and women, like a record on loop because I never got the guts to break the cycle and actually do something about it when I totally could have. The countless times when they had tried to cheer me up and I only reciprocated with cynical psychobabble. Completely ignorant to the fact that they might have had their own bullshit to deal with at the time. I was that dickhead ready to spear any levitating balloon they might offer because I was just so fixed on bringing everything down, unless I was extremely fucked-up--I was usually all smiles behind a heap of bottles... I did it even in the fortunate company of so many incredible people. In sunny San Diego. And if that’s how I was at moments mentioned above when I thought I was ‘shit’, of course some could agree.
Looks like that chicken just cracked the egg...
Oh, and remember to thank all of those incredible people you subjected to your diaper fodder.
So to those of you, I would like to apologize, and thank you for sticking by in some my most melancholy maelstroms. I have been made fully aware that it couldn’t have been easy, and I owe you more than I can fathom to offer right now.
And I’m not saying nobody should ever toss a verbal tantrum every now and then. I find it to be a necessary and healthy release, when done intermittently. I think when it’s done in a positive manner, it’s called “venting,” and occurs at irregular and infrequent intervals. When it’s done consistently on the same subject, I call it “Chronic Caustic Sadness Disease”. Also known as “Hey! I Know Things Aren’t Perfect, But You’re Being A Fucking Asshole And Dragging Everybody Into Your Sad Space of Shit-Disease”.
I actually came up with a bit of an equation to differentiate between ‘venting’ and the latter two. It occurred to me in Melbourne for reasons I’m unwilling to disclose right now, but it basically states:
“When the energy put into whinging about the problem actually surpasses the amount of energy required to deal with or fix the problem, the biggest problem is not the one in discussion itself, but the fact that you’re just being a bitch about it.”
Also, in an effort to not come off as some self-righteous pudd-monkey, I’ll let you know that even sometimes I have to remind myself of the equation. I’m far from perfect on matters of the sort. Especially when it comes to spilled beer... I know everybody has problems. I know that sometimes life can suck, but consistently reminding unwilling audiences about that is what assholes do. And, I also figure if you do your dose of complaining about your problems while having the ability to change them and choose not to, then it might be in everybody’s best interest for you to just shut the fuck up. Having the power to make a difference and deciding not to is tragic and can be offensive.
I actually hear Tessa is doing well now, and no longer ‘sooo bored’. Apparently she’s happy somewhere in New Zealand, and for that I’m glad. She’s was great to be around when she was happy. Well, three sheets at least in Sydney... Maybe she got a glimpse of things differently, or was subjected to the sadness molasses from some other sorry sap who put things into perspective for her.
Changing time and placement has a way of doing that...
As for me, after about a week of illuminated epiphanies beneath those bar lights, I was ready for a change of times and places. The party had begun to take it out of me. My body and bank needed to be elsewhere. One sore morning for the both of us, I made mention to Kevin.
“Hey, we should probably get the fuck out of here.”
“Oh my god, Bro! Yes. Please! This city is like a gorgeous hooker. She takes large sums of my money every night and leaves me alone and sick in the morning.”
“Yeah, I think between grey skies and black eyes, my jovial outlook is beginning to wane anyway. Strobe lights are starting to becoming a lousy substitute for sunlight. ... Hookers leave you sick in the morning?”
“I meant mostly sick in reflection on my own behavior. But yes, some of them do.”
“Fair enough... We’ll book the bus today. We should be able to head out tomorrow or the next day.”
“Yes! Kirtlan is ankling!”
We booked the bus for early the next morning and decided we might as well make the most of our last night in Sydney. For Kevin, it wasn’t much of a switch. Another night out until four in the morning was regular. The roommates decided to join us as a group to either commemorate, or celebrate our departure down in the bar. Johnny, Sharon, Tessa, and a few others all in attendance. And in the good fashion of well-seasoned drinkers in celebration, we went full-throttle on every full bottle in sight.
Ha. What comes next is great...
It’s been my experience with goodbyes, that no matter what bad water runs between two people, if there is anything good that they share, then it’s probably a plus to build a bridge, get over the bad water, and share what can be shared. Even if it’s just for a while. At least for the sake of a pleasant parting of ways.
Maybe that’s why they call them ‘“good’byes” there, Slick.
You never know when you’ll see them again, or even if you’ll see them again at all. So you might as well enjoy the time that you have. Bitter goodbyes can leave you with an awful taste in your mouth for extended lengths of time.
This is such bullshit.
Now, it’s not like Tess and I had any bad blood between us. She was just a bitch. And she possibly might not even have known that I thought she was. But, who was I to judge? I had been known to pull the same shit at times. It wasn’t my place to tell her to ‘sack it up’. I had only known her for a couple weeks. Besides, maybe there was something tragic in her history that I was unaware of, that had left her so sunken. I figured maybe I should find out. Maybe I should get to know her better. I was going to be gone in the morning anyway.
With that said, fueled on piss and pumping beats, I took to talking to Tess like I never had before. We chatted and chugged, and eventually I saw her face beam forth in that way it did when it went flush with and abundance of cranberry/vodka. A smile seldom seen opened up and added a little refulgent ambiance to the room.
“Do you want to dance?” She asked, half laughing.
She is pissed...
Making the most of it.
And somewhere on that dance floor, between the multitude of trips to the bar, I caught a sight of Tess in a new light.
Jesus, she looks amazing right now.
You are pissed...
I watched the hot soft neons fly across her face and the smile she donned. That sad and sober sallow had all been washed away. Reflections tumbled about in her giant eyes. Every now and then they’d tilt towards the ceiling while she danced. A look I seemed to like for some reason. She shouted something I couldn’t make out. I made a motion suggesting I could’t understand. She stepped into me and put her chin on my shoulder to whisper something in my ear.
Jesus, she smells amaz...
And there it was. I knew exactly where this might end up sans self-control. I didn’t even hear what she said. All I heard was an epic battle of conscience.
Dude. She is waving every red flag that should alert you to her being a big ball of crazy.
Yeah, but maybe I was being harsh.
You are a veteran psycho-dater! You came out here to get away from crazy shit like this. You know the answer to this one. GTFO! Plus, you’d just be a scum bag.
Uh, last I checked, she knows I’m leaving tomorrow. And, I’m leaving tomorrow! She’s a big girl. We’re just both having fun.
Sure, she’s having a blast right now, and in the morning she’s Ann Colter with a cactus tampon. Does bi-polar mean anything to you?
Those lights are playing tricks on you. All the more because your filter is under the influence. Do not get yourself tangled up in this one! There’s something wrong here. You know better. You have a chance to make a pro-active difference here.
Oh, good. Your mouth too busy voicing silent sentiments elsewhere?
I smiled and nodded in affirmation to whatever she said. I followed with telling her I was going to close out my tab.
“Me too.” She grabbed my hand. I pounded the rest of my drink to drowned out the conscience. We climbed into the elevator and I subsequently found myself tangled...
Knowing better and doing better are two very different things. That’s something I have worked on...
In my defense however--you may or may not believe this, but I swear on all three inches of my junk--before anything happened, I did offer a disclaimer of “Hey, before anything happens I just want you to know that I’m not looking for anything really beyond this.” To which she replied “Oh, no! I totally understand.”
Now, whether that’s a valid defense or not, I still took the time to make it a point...
In my drunken slumber I had a dream about ________. I woke up, and saw her next to me. But it wasn’t her, it was Tessa.
Well, there’s the dance and glance at the ceiling connection. Awkward. Well, hopefully she’s still cool with everything.
It was 5:30 in the morning, and the room was draped in dark. Our bus was set to depart in half an hour.
“Hey, we should totally meet up in Cairns.” She whispered as I began to gather my things.
Well, shit... Look what you’ve gone and done.
Calm down, maybe she just wants to hang out as a drinking buddy or something. Besides, she’ll be back to normal once the booze wears off.
“Sure, that sounds good.”
“What‘ your number?”
“It’s (insert number here).”
Slick... You do it to yourself once again.
I turned to Kevin, “Hey, let’s go, Dude.”
We flung our bags on our backs, and headed out of Wake-Up to see a bright sun waking up Sydney under a cloudless sky.