“The most powerful force on earth is the human soul on fire.”
– Ferdinand Foch
October 1st, 2013, I’m back at home and settled down, the place smells brand new for once, and I’m ready to hit the sack. I dump my luggage onto the floor, spill its guts, and there’s the rank smell of sweat and dirt and faded receipts. My head’s giddy from all the travel days, the excitement, the fuss and the craze – I’m so tired and aching for my own bed, I’m damn near moved to tears.
I crash, I sleep, and smoke the last of my smokes and contemplate what the future holds and what it’ll bring and suddenly I feel like I’m as overwhelmed as the envelopes and letters collected up in my absence. I twist and turn, I hear the sounds and sights and smell the rancid asphalt heat in my sleep; wake up, hit the lights, and the thing won’t start. The washing machine dies and I twist my ankle ninety degrees – the doctor says, politely, it’s a torn ligament and I’ll likely never walk proper like I did before.
My neighbor upstairs with his wife and kids berates me about what I should be doing with the house and backyard, about missed important events, and acts sympathetic and suddenly I’ve got an urge to pack my bags and hit the road again. The ache in my heart from the nicotine and memories swells, and I wake up to stare off at photos from a time long gone. It’s the blues, some people say, cause once the magic’s gone it’ll never come back or go away.
I return to the parties, and everyone’s stirred up something awful, people with tears in their eyes come thanking me for being an inspiration, a hero, some kind of a wonder and suddenly I’m backed into a corner with the anxiety up to the brim. I’m outside, smoking away, and missing workshops and events and text messages. They ask me how I am, and I reply, I’m fine just tired. Maybe I am. I don’t know why, it’s been two weeks since I’m home, but suddenly I stop eating and I space out and ramble about the little things I saw.
“What did you see?” They asked me. “Why’d you go?” For once, I can’t answer because I have too many different answers, but when I do they shut up and fill their heads with imagination like there’s something incredible happening. Nothing here, a voice in my head that’s never heard says, just a tonne of stories that ain’t that different from what you have.
I’m congratulated, thanked, and applauded. There’s drinks on the spot and more friends added on my social networking than I could remember. I’m satisfied, fulfilled, and for a while, I’m dizzy from the affection maybe for a day or two, shit if it don’t turn me on when nobody’s watching. I’m left alone to write this all down, and suddenly all at once I’m overwhelmed. I can’t seem to put the words together. I’m trapped in a corner of my mind with more images than you’d see in a short setting.
Soon after, I’m berated, about how it’s all for nothing. About how stories of other people have no effect, that ain’t nothing’s changing, and ain’t nobody worth their salt would listen. I’m told it’s all a massive egotistical venture, some clever attempt at recognition, and I’m tempted to fight back but the words don’t come out. You’re fucked now, aren’t you? I ignore the impulse and bite my tongue. There’s more people willing to back me. You’ve lost the touch. You don’t have the sand to show ’em what you did.
I tell stories in person, tell them to an audience, and people nod their heads and I’m repeating myself like a broken record. I toss my titles out in the open, and suddenly I’m finding a hypocrisy I’ve sworn to avoid that’s returned. I clam, they ponder, and I limp and they conclude something’s happened. No shit, something’s happened. It ain’t a journey if some part of you doesn’t come back different.
Night turns into day and day turns into night. There’s melancholy, depression, and staring off into an empty screen for hours on end. You’re definitely fucked. They tell me that it’s signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, the lack of appetite, the nightmares, the flashbacks; all the doubt, all the frustration, masturbation, and guilt.
I’m in Portland again and staring off at a wall where I’d met a vagrant once, but he ain’t there no more. Buildings built, babies burn, but I’m trapped in the past between a place of what was and what is now. Just another asshole shuffling by. I’m half-eating, half-eating, and half-everything. I curl up into a ball and stare at a wall. I’m losing my mind.
So I write, bits and pieces and nothing makes sense, and there’s a bin where cigarettes go that fills up every other week, and parties and people and wannabes that are too eager to approach me, asking, time and time again, if that actually all happened. They smile, sometimes real, sometimes not, and people look up and away and suddenly I’m no longer just another deviant amongst them. I’m someone different.
Solidarity is a bitch isn’t it?
I look back, I ask, what’s new and different and watch the interactions flow, the conversations pass, and I realize suddenly I’m even more alone than when I started out. They have no idea, I think, fuck me what did I lose when I left? But that’s too harsh, too judgmental, too condescending – it’ll hurt their feelings, you gotta show respect and honor and integrity and all that stuff you had. Play the part. It’s just another mask. So I bite my tongue, nod, and smile in a sea of flowing rubber, latex, nudity and sex.
The days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, life has slowed down to a halt and I’m staring off East towards the horizon, wondering when I write what could have been and what simply was. Then and now, I tell myself, times have changed. The country’s going to hell faster than it did before, friends get married and friends get buried, and meanwhile there’s this horrible materialistic decadence that drove you off in the first place.
Find it again.
I throw slop into a bowl and stare off at news feeds, blogs, pictures and wonder if I’m alone in the universe before I cough my lungs out into sleep. I pass out, I wake up, and soon the memories are blurry and I can half-focus on what to do next. Half my savings are gone and I’m still staring off, curious, pondering, wondering, what could have been and what was.
He asks me what it was all for and suddenly I’m halfway across the table, screaming nonsense, and he looks afraid. I let go of him and tell him to find it himself. They chase me and ask me what happened, so I play the part, tell them it’s nothing that I can’t handle and they leave me alone. I feel their eyes follow me as I leave. He’s gone mad, I could hear them whisper. Yellow isn’t here. Yellow’s gone.
Scrolling back, half the posts I made aren’t even enough to cover even a fraction of what took place, the emotions, the heaviness of each action, the fear, the danger, the chaos, the decadence. I feel like I’m suffocating so I scribble down more notes. The ramblings of a mad man. It doesn’t help.
People are passing by a man screaming for help. There’s a tarp draped over a stiff on the corner of a road in June. There’s a shop where this man was shot. Your number could not be completed as dialed because that person’s no longer here. If God wills it, so be it. It ain’t normal, that kind of behavior, some sick shit out there.
It’s Denver and there’s a car turned upside down with a baby onboard. You’re in Chicago and there’s some t-girl with her mascara undone, cause she ain’t pretty or submissive enough. It’s New York and a bunch of kiddies in store-bought leather without a clue what it’s for. That man will die if you walk on by. You raise that flag and you raise it high.
How was your trip?
So what are you going to do now?
Take this flag and burn this whole establishment to the fucking ground.
I’ll use this voice I have and tell it for what it is and what it’s for and fuck opinions, fuck sensitivities, and tell it for what it is, here and now, and damned if I do and damned if I do, but I will NOT STAY SILENT.
I’ve had enough rest for now I think.
It’s June as I write this, and I’m tired from an eight hour ride, and there’s the Pride Parade coming and Gods only know what’s next. It’s been a while since I’ve written. Blame that fucking book you’re writing.
All I have to say now is:
It’s good to be back.