Things I Miss


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Today, my fellow co-worker, a youthful, pony-tailed saleswoman with a penchant for diets and helpful mantras, and one of the few employees swimming in the same age pool as I, read to me the following quote:

“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson. You find the present tense and the past perfect.”

She smiled proudly, like the time she was 8 or 9 and read her first grown up sentence aloud for all of her 1st grade class to hear. I wanted to kick the confident grin off her face, shake her shoulders, and go into a fit. But, somehow, I smiled back, and said, “Oh, how nice. What a wonderful quote.”

Don’t ask me why such a violent fantasy occurred. Maybe it’s because of my internal wrestling match, including me and that perfect past. Donned in a gold lame (pronounced lahm-ey) cape and airtight mask to intimidate my senses, it storms around the ring in a glorious fit. And me, in the corner, confused as fuck and dying for a cigarette. God, how I miss cigarettes. The Past smokes them as if cancer is a common cold. Tobacco smells good underneath the fingernails; I don’t care what anyone else says.

You’re probably wondering why I’m going head-to-head with personal history in a cage match. That’s because a part of me wants to kill it, and a part of me wants some of it back.

My imaginary coach is an Italian spitfire with furrowed salt n’ pepper eyebrows. He eternally sweats in his brown robber’s cap and over-sized sweatshirt. He hunches over and gives me the nitty-gritty as to why The Past is my number one enemy. I need to be rid of it for good. And this you may already know (as I have talked about it in previous entries). But, we’re human, and my sympathies lie in the bastard (like me) who seems to entangle her own hellish moments with those saving graces preceding it.

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If I knew how to drive a car, and owned one, I would have appreciated Connecticut in a way that I now understand. There’s a safety to it, the ever changing landscape that somehow stays perfectly the same. It’s a sort of sleepy vision that shifts in dreams, the transition lackluster and dull. Sometimes you see the ocean; sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you’re in a wealthy bar in a wealthy conservative town; sometimes you’re in the projects where the smell of cannabis and garbage stirs in the air. Sometimes, you’re in the middle of nowhere, with trees as tall as buildings, and the paranoia of a masked axe murderer lurking in the wilderness. Best of all, Connecticut roads bleed out and into other opportunities for escape. Yes, one can enjoy this strange state if one has a car and an aspiration for roadside one-night stands (platonic, for the most part).

I realized sometime ago that I was far more active in Connecticut than I am now. Sometimes, when walking around the city, I feel claustrophobic and adrift in the incessant pounding and clickity-clacking of the pavement riddled with gum and cigarette buds (and dog and horse poo). In Connecticut, you walked a great distance for entertainment; you traveled outside of the bubbles of each neighborhood for a taste of anti-sobriety (or, if you were boring, you’d stay home). Here, everything’s too close. I wish I could stretch the roads out and widen them with just a playful nudge. I would tear back the rooftops of sky scrapers and place each moment of social intercourse in its own little nook on the streets, like planting a stalky green promise right into the earth. Adventures would last longer than a night, and would include sleep as well.

On a recent date, I regaled my company with stories of my whip and steel stilettos, and he remarked that I spoke about it with the same tenderness, honesty, and care that he would for his profession. I miss it. I miss it. I’ve gotten a recent offer to do a film again. And I didn’t say no…

Yes, I do feel strange. Certainly happy, on some level or another. But, altogether strange. My impulses drive me to dip in and out of habits like switching a light on and off… with a furious legitimacy too. I need to do it again. I want to go back. But, I know that if I’m not careful, I’ll be taking a hard blow to the stomach, and I’ll be down and out again. That is, if I’m not careful.

Oh Past, where’s your perfection? I guess nostalgia only works when remembering hippies and disco…

By the way, the person who uttered this profound quotation remains anonymous…

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