I’ve wondered if I was screwed. Many times. Maybe I’m just absolutely hopeless. No self-control. Sometimes it seems like I can’t seem to string together self-esteem or hope long enough to actually do anything. Can’t focus on anything.
People whisper about me being screwed. “Those boys don’t have a chance.” The upbringing, being torn, all that. Those thoughts cross my mind. Never be happy, all that jazz. Wind up dead, or in a mental institution. Some people think those thoughts. Some don’t.
Don’t have a chance. No Shot. No chance to do what? What exactly are we talking about?
My little brother Nick, my mom’s son- running out to the car, before I take my aunt and her friends to the airport. He’s running with my aunt’s sunglasses in his hand. My aunt’s friend, she says my brother is a good boy.
You know why she said that? Because my brother is a good boy. No chance. Get outta here.
I always romanticized the mental home. Days of just sitting around doing nothing. The bar is pretty low at a mental home. It’s a good day in a mental home if you have coherent conversations and don’t express any delusions or paranoia. I’d get gold stars four days a week. A brilliant romance could develop in a mental home. Patients are probably not allowed to have sex, so we’d have to sneak into to the mop closet. It would be an adventure. Thrilling. Take a load off, seriously. ZERO expectations in a mental home.
When I broke up with my first girlfriend and my depression felt like an extraordinarily dense black tar that coursed through my veins and weighed me down, making it difficult to walk, I thought about checking into a mental home. I looked at some pictures online and the buildings’ exteriors depressed me. It’s not like I’d be going to some celebrity resort rehab. Not with my health plan. Oh well, guess I’ll just go to WORK, at STARBUCKS.
While we’re here, let me just tell the slightly more fortunate, that the down-trodden, the depressed, the poor, they’re working at Starbucks and the like. The guy who was taking too long to make your mocha, he was thinking about checking himself into a mental home before he arrived to work at 5:30 am, but one of the people he truly loves -his coworker- was on the phone pleading with him to not leave his fellow slaves short-handed for a morning rush. Try to consider things like that when you’re pissy. If the wait is too long, or they put an extra pump in your mocha, just realize that you’re really angry because you aren’t as thin and young as you used to be and keep your trap shut. We all know that’s why you’re really angry. The last time you were a prick, you were given decaf shots and you didn’t notice. Nice pallet genius.
I digressed a bit but I don’t think I’m gonna cut too much. What was I saying? Oh, yeah, this is supposed to be about honesty. When this piece began in my handwritten notes it was about honesty. And before that, when I was lying in bed and listening to Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah, this post was about how I was told by my pal that I was pretty honest. When he said it, we were talking about serious things, my flaws. He said it almost as if it were tragic, as if I were a victim of it.
I don’t really feel that honest. I feel a lot of guilt. I felt guilty when I stole a dollar from a kid once. I felt like shit the other day when I picked up seven dollars off the ground and I was pretty sure I knew whose it was- they were down the sidewalk a bit. The rationale behind not rushing back to give it to the couple was that moments before, I’d awkwardly almost crashed when I rode my bike past them. They absolutely witnessed my near-crash and I didn’t feel like seeing them ever again. I bought $7.00 in lotto scratcher tickets with the blood money and lost, of course.
I have seen every episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. It’s Jerry Seinfeld’s internet show. In an episode with French comedian Gad Elmaleh, the Frenchman observes that Americans are always talking about how they feel. “I’m feeling okay…I feel…”
If I’m being honest I moved home from Boston because I was drinking and smoking too much weed and occasional harder drugs. I smoked weed everyday for maybe four years, and I was doing ALL DAY everyday for the last two. Beer just sort of accompanied, it mellowed me I suppose. Beer was nice in the beginning. It never tasted good. To this day, beer is beer.
But if I’m being honest, weed allowed me to appreciate the little things. Sunsets, guitar riffs. Weed basically made me have a nice long sit-down out there in Boston and I don’t regret it one bit. It was a relationship. Amazing in the beginning and a bit drawn out in the end, but as with all the drugs, and the drinking, I have no regrets and I doubt that top-dollar psychoanalysis could have more effectively and efficiently forced me to face the flaws that I need to fix in order to go where I’m looking to go. I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been stone-cold sober. Your brain just plain does NOT go there. It doesn’t.
I had a relationship with weed and other drugs. I try not to judge and I’m not really talking about drugs today so, moving on.
I’m broke and I don’t have a book on the shelf or a movie in the theater but it’s all good. I work at a brewery with a nice beer garden. There’s a little fish pond and- well it’s just lovely in the beer garden. Patrons talk about beer. They brew at home or think about brewing at home. They talk about hops. Hops Shop. Just talking hops shop. I’m not really there. My mind is in Boston. I’m learning to play bass at age 27. I’m learning to play my favorite songs. Never in my wildest dreams. I’m watching young musicians as they develop into the finest in the country. This ain’t hyperbole. I know some of the best in Boston, and that means that I know some of the best in the country. I saw a couple of them grow up, right in front of my face. I’ve sliced meat with these folks. I’ve slept in their beds.
In Boston, I stood up one night and talked about my mission to about ten or so of the most amazing people I’ve met. And they loved it. Eight years after coming home. After the crying on shower floors. The letters from family members urging me to come back to the fold in not-so-subtle ways. What, are you gonna write The Great American Novel? 45 minutes, I talked. They were laughing. Never in my wildest dreams.
I don’t have a car. Everyone has a car. I’m the only one at work who rides a bike. And it’s a good-sized brewery/bistro/beer garden. Lots of workers. It’s my own doing. It’s good for me.
My mom was raised Mormon and she married my non-Mormon Dad when she was 19. He was 22. They had three boys in three years. I was third. My Dad was baptized Mormon but he threw in the towel when they divorced after a six-year marriage. He’s essentially not Mormon. If I’m being honest, I was kinda hoping that he and my step-mom would be a little more in-my-corner when I came home from my mission and I made it clear that I no longer wanted to be Mormon. I was told that (with respect to my mission) “It would have been nice if you would have finished.” That killed me a little bit, but it’s all good. I love them and they made me tough and that’s cool. They’re approach to me coming home a penniless mess was good for me. Minimalist. But they’re there. They have ALWAYS been there.
My brother, their younger son, is a Marine. He was his basic training platoon’s Honorman, or Guide. That means he was the best. They flew me back here a couple of years ago to see him graduate. The day of, we went to the base down by the San Diego airport early in the morning. The first thing the Marines did was jog out to us. But they couldn’t talk or acknowledge. That came later, when they were dismissed after speeches and whatnot. But I saw my brother there, Trevor. The Marines stopped jogging in front of the families. And I saw my Dad’s son holding his platoon’s flag, wearing an arm band that meant he was the Guide of his Platoon. That’s when I started crying. I was looking around for other people crying, but nobody was crying. I tried so hard to hold it back. Mothers with their signs, nobody crying. I fell to the back of the crowd so my parents wouldn’t see me. Eventually I caved and hugged my step-mom Janis. She wasn’t even crying over her own son being a bad ass.
Later in the day we’d walk around base and other marines would address my brother as Guide and again I’d have to go to the bathroom or around some corner to compose myself.
Trevor and I, we’re different. I’m about as liberal as Bill Maher. I don’t know Trevor’s politics, but I can guarantee you that they aren’t in line with Bill Maher’s. But you see Trevor, being guide, it made me think that maybe I had a chance. At his core he’s got what I got…I moved to Boston with nothing and I knew nobody. These words…God I wish you knew how hard I worked for these words.
Folks at work are nice. I’m in San Diego again. People are more laid-back here.
So the brewery, it’s a huge building, about the size of a football field. Maybe half a football field, whatever. It’s big. Then the bistro. The bistro is a very large restaurant with seating for hundreds. And the garden, it’s about a half-acre. I work special events. If a couple has a wedding rehearsal dinner in the garden I work that event. That’s what I do. Events.
I’m more guarded since Boston. I feel like a high school nerd again. At work, I’m quiet and I don’t talk to girls. I had to tell a couple of fellow caterers the other day- “You know I was pretty cool in Boston.” Just an old man, tellin’ war stories. I was talking about my 30th birthday and I told them that I was talking to these girls at a bar and they were like “AARON!? Talking to GIRLS?” So yeah, I told them I was cool. But now I ride my bike to work and I’m 33.
Despite my post-Boston recoil, the folks at work are getting to know me. One of the bistro managers will flick me on the ear as he walks by. One of the waiters usually slaps my hand and then brings it in for a hug, largely because he’s just nice. But it always strikes me as pretty non-New England. Sometimes I leave my bike at work and one of them will give me a ride home. I wrote a paper for someone (SHHHH!) and she got an A. She keeps telling me to plug away with the writing.
There are a lot of them. Millions actually. They drink beer and have filthy mouths. They have tattoos, piercings and pre-marital sex. But, you see, they’re in my corner.