It’s strange think that at one point in my life, I aspired to sit in a small smile-shaped area. That that was what I worried about.
The box office shift at some point in my job at the movie theater was, in fact, an aspirational zone for me. It represented a level of trust from the bosses; the place where the most money was handled, where you could sit left to your own devices, a sort of zen-zone.
But today looking at the customers, I hated all of them, regarding them as annoying as the mosquito who had erred through the vacuum tubes into my booth, each one just drawing my attention from my defined goal of vicarious escape through video games and poorly streamed episodes of In Treatment on my phone.
All to escape, what?
What I felt, what I had become, what I was afraid of becoming? I didn’t know.
“Be in your feelings.” my therapist had advised me. “And don’t do anything you wouldn’t do normally.”
What I had done was make a pass at a friend (unsuccessful, but harmless, by her grace, not mine) and tried to make a pass at a casual acquaintance (creepier, depressing, done online).
The street-balling Tibetan kid at my movie theater had asked me if I liked reggaeton, which he described dancing to as “sex with the pants on” and offered to take me out clubbing. The security guard tried some fatherly affection and knocking my head up with tales of “looking good to get back at her”. I didn’t know whether a rebound would work or not, but the truth was as Andy later told me, that what I wanted wasn’t sex or at least not really.
“Well I mean what I want is to be with someone I know, someone who respects or accepts me.” I told him, while cleaning up stray popcorn. “Otherwise, well, I’m just fucking someone and that just doesn’t work for me.” It was true. For some reason, I felt like my connection to someone, that they accepted me and I accepted them, that release of boundaries that knowledge, or want of knowledge, that’s what’s sexy/attractive, which makes it sound like I like fucking books.
But what it really means, predictably, is that I like being with people who I have a loving relationship with.
And right now, I’m all out of those.
It’s not that there are things that don’t help or that I just feel bad all the time.
It’s just like I said last time, if you turn on enough lights, you can try and forget it’s not sunny.
Sorry, that sounded pretty lame.
But I had a good writer’s group, maybe the biggest one I’ve ever had. I felt all authoritative and cool with the surfeit of new people staring at me as I explained the “rules” and gave incipient feedback to each piece, sounding like an expert, like a teacher, like a man who wasn’t 6-7 mugs of PBR deep.
People laughed and had a good time, I kept nodding to the vibe and rubbing my hair, happy that people were there, that they thought I was cool, that they thought this thing I had started worked or was at least worth checking out.
They all left afterwards, but Ro-beardo and So-Cal Andy stuck around to go karaokeing afterwards, a categorization that Rob broadly rejected.
“Listen, Nick. We have to stop this misinformation on your blog. I am only somewhat-to-occasionally bearded and Andy is not from Southern California.”
“He’s from Santa Barbara.” I countered.
“That’s practically No-Cal.” said Rob apoplectic, in what was either an attempt at mid-Californian snobbery or an attempt to stay warm in the temperature-dipping night.
Andy on the other hand, had a very warm looking hat and so chose to remain outside the conversation.
I did a few good songs at the bar and Rob liked that I picked “Secret Agent Man” for him, the subject of much anxiety on my part for its obviousness, but ended up a ball he knocked out of the park.
No one seemed to get me when I did Devo’s “Beautiful World”, but I did end up with some awkward cheers from the French-speaking lesbians across the lounge area for a scratchy rendition of Train’s “Drops of Jupiter”, a song from my upbringing.
It felt good to get a couple claps, even if it was just for that.
Rob and Andy hopped the L-train home, after some more words of wisdom, but my mood faded down as the extra beers’ soporific effect hit me, wandering down 14th street in the dead of night.
The thoughts came at me as they do. Was she happier without me? Was I supposed to be happier for her if she was? Did she ever think of calling me in these late nights? Was there someone there, taking care of her? How much of this whole much relationship was real and how much was it just intentional blindness?
It was easy down those closed, commercial blocks to wonder at one’s own insecurities, with hindsight unpicking the moments previously obscured by your own sense of love or contentment.
I guess it’s also a bad time to contemplate your partner’s parting assertion that you were “unhealthily” involved with her, when you’re trying to pick up your pieces, many drinks and a couple songs down.
It’s not lost on me that the girl I hit on last opened with the line: “I just want you to know your girlfriend loved you until the end.”
Or maybe that’s just paraphrasing.
Anyway, I got Taco Bell and it was good for the situation.
I went home.
The next day I woke up to no hangover, except my mom calling me asking me for Lena Dunham’s contact info.
“You should date her.” Rob replied from across the internet. “Didn’t you see Tiny Furniture? You guys are cut from the same self-deprecating, probably Jewy cloth.”
“You’re just depressing me.” I told him. “Because she’s doing something with her life and probably has lots of guys around. And me, I’m just doing, well I don’t even know. I don’t even know who’d want to date me and certainly not her.”
“Yeah, I feel that way sometimes.” He said.
“That’s fucked up man, you’ve got a cool beard and make cool movies and you’re a better karaoke singer than me.”
“Well, I do have a nice beard.” Rob admitted. “And I may be a better karaoke singer. But you’re still a damn good one and that’s what matters. And you’re a semi-famous blogger.”
“Micro-famous, maybe.” I replied with some foolish pride. “Among like 5-7 people.”
“With a growing following in PA.” Rob returned. “I’d know.”
As for me, I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, what it means to “be in my feelings” or what it is that would make me feel better.
What I’m doing is thrashing about, trying to recognize that I’m thrashing about, trying to calm down and eventually starting all over again.
When my therapist took out her book this week to offer me another session, she looked and said “I have nothing for you” with a sad twinge and it.
“Don’t worry,” I told her. “I have a support system, friends, I’ll be fine.”
I felt like I was reassuring her more than me.
But the truth is I’m not fine.
I don’t react well, I’m grumpy, I’m thin-skinned and I’m really just down as shit.
But I can write about it sometimes.
And that’s good, I guess.
Chicken Enchilada Grilled Stuft Burrito- $4.87
14th St bet University Pl. and 5th Ave.
NQR456L to 14th St- Union Square
Sean Dunn, a good friend of the good man Blake LaRue, decided to cast me in one of the shorts of his upcoming feature “The Confabulators”. I didn’t even look at it, out of sheer self-embarrassment, but I hear it’s funny and Andy and Rob (who you may recognize from the above post) are the stars. Enjoy.