The world seems to be losing its mind.
Around 11 pm, I go out and buy some junk food. Tearing myself away from my father’s old slides is Hell.
Outside, it’s empty and quiet. I put earphones in to drown out nothing. Walk to the end of the block and think about how I want to smoke.
I won’t buy a facemask.
Even if I get it, I’ll just stay inside until I recover or die from it. Seems like the best course of action. I tell my little brother as much, but I don’t tell my older brother or my mother. They don’t need to know how I feel about all this.
However slim the possibility, once you think about it, you begin to move a lot faster, and with greater purpose.
My problem is that I’ve always been a romantic, I’m always daydreaming about dying some tragic death.
But that probably won’t happen. In the meantime, it’s spurred me on to complete this next project, even while reconsidering some things related to my photography. And now I’ve come to wonder at why I talk to certain people, or spend time doing things I don’t really want to do…taking photographs I don’t necessarily want to take, because I long ago lost a sense of direction that only now seems to be on the verge of re-materializing.
“Some really crazy shit happened to me one year,” Steph confides. “Three of my best friends died in really fucked up ways, each within a few months of one another.”
I haven’t seen him since, but I’m sure he’s still doing his thing.
Sometimes you’re human and you behave in a way calculated to hurt people around you because you’re hurt, and you want someone else to feel it too. But despite that, you still love the person.
“So I decided to start living life on my own terms and going after what I want – you know, what I need.” He takes a drag on a cigarette outside the Cock and Bull. In my memory, it’s raining.
It’s important to be honest with yourself. Sometimes I want to resent the people who ask me to photograph some events or things for them.
It’s a little insulting.
I wonder how I should take it? Most of the time I feel like I’m just a passenger. I’m not the one driving, I’m just enjoying the crazy ride. So I go along with shit I don’t really care for. And I wind up somewhere strange and new, shaking my head. But I can never account for anything I’ve done, and most people can’t relate to that.
Most people have plans.
Important Plans that have required much thought, and a lot of money, and years shaved off that unknown block of time. It’s shrinking and melting away every day, every hour, every minute.
That thought sends a chill down my spine. How much longer do I have left? The cost of everything suddenly seems too high. A job, a relationship, obligations. These things are gnawing away at what little time might be left. And none of it is worth what it gives you.
Except maybe the relationship thing. That can be good.
In my bookcase is a photo album with prints of an ex girlfriend. Sometimes I wonder if I might finish it some day, if we might get back together and I could resume taking photographs where I left off. But I have a better chance of getting sick and dying at 31. Besides, I heard she’s getting married soon, and we stopped talking some time ago.
But that’s not a bad thing. I told her when we split up – she deserves someone better than me.
Scanning some of my father’s slides, I find a photograph of him as a very young man. Though there’s no date, it must have been before he turned 30. His hair is swept to one side. A woman has her face pressed up to his and she’s smiling. There’s a nervous, apprehensive look on his face, not one that’s unhappy, but one with a sense of reserve to it, maybe a tinge of fear that the photograph won’t turn out just right.
He looks just like me.
Now he’s buried in Virginia.
There are things I remember that I can’t tell anyone about. If I tell anyone about it, things might fall apart. Plus, no one wants to hear someone speak ill of family.
I work all day from home, and without the usual flood of office chit-chat and annoying people yacking around my desk, I find myself being more productive.
All day I think of calling someone when I finish at 6 PM. But when the time comes, I feel better not making a phone call, and cooking dinner alone, and going to sleep. I actually do feel better, the same way I feel better when I lift weights or take care of some chore I’ve been putting off for days. I feel like I’m making progress.
Every time I pick up that phone, I think: They could have called, but they didn’t. What does that say about you?
And back down the phone goes, and no one ever calls, except family, to tell me they’re worried about something, or if it’s my little brother, to nerd out over computer parts.
But it’s good to be alone, good to go through a period of thirst. Good to know that things run out and dry up and disappear forever. It’s good to know that time is running out, that things aren’t getting better, that the whole shebang – the whole world or just your conscious perception of it – is slowly going off the rails.
It makes you want to make progress. It makes you want to be someone better.