I was driving home just before sunrise on a New Year’s morning. The crowd split and everyone went in their own direction. I was longhaired at the time with two silver hoop earrings in my left ear. I wore a black suit jacket with a tuxedo shirt beneath and a black bow tie. I had on a pair of my “Go-to” trusty but faded blue jeans. They were loose and straight around the leg with rips and tears across the right knee and loose threads dangling from the ripped sections of denim. I wore a pair of black Justin cowboy boots, which I swiped to perfect my appearance.
Heading back to the Island from the city, I considered my life. There was no one to kiss after the ball dropped except for a girl that was clearly not worth my time.
There was no love for me nor was there any warmth to receive my hand. Everyone else seemed to have someone. Everyone else seemed to have something, like a new car or a new job that was supposedly the gateway to open them up to a brand new life. And me, I was alone. I was making somewhere around 25 or 28,000 a year, which was hardly enough to pull of this thing, which I called my image..
I was driving around in a beat-up, four-door blue Chevy with a bad muffler and a sagging headliner inside, which someone always commented about. The air conditioner didn’t work at all but the heat did. The backseat was big enough to fit a crew of my knuckle-headed friends in, which they all appreciated because I was always the designated driver.
The car was far from cool or worthy but I had my fair share of victories in the backseat.
This was never with anyone of value by the way —at least, not really. The girls that went with me in the backseat were just the girls that went with me in the backseat; and to be honest, who knows if I even knew their names or if they knew mine. And who cared, right? Wasn’t that supposed to be the point?
This was me at the time, scribbling down notes in a notebook that no one ever knew about. I was bleeding to be a poet but I never dared to write from the heart enough to be me. Instead, I wrote on the behalf of someone I pretended to be.
This was me, trying so hard to be a rebel but never daring to be an individual. I was never brave enough to stand on my own and face the crowd, —or walk away if I needed to.
I would head out to these places in the city with my back against the wall, —posing like a character from a movie. A Camel cigarette dangled from my mouth with its smoke rising up to the ceiling.
I posed in my best James Dean impersonation, trying to fix my facial expression as someone with mystique. I wanted to seem like someone broken, and someone lost, but yet, hopefully someone beautiful with something different from the norm. More than anything, I wanted to be cool.
I even coached myself on the way I spoke and tried to create a rasp in my voice with hopes to sound dreamy to someone or sexy.
I recall a night in the city when a girl asked me if I was ever on television, which, of course I said yes. We talked for a while. She was drunk, somewhat pretty, but somewhat slurry, which I disliked.
We talked for a while longer about life and the way things are until her friends came over. And then I overheard as she told her friends, “I just talked to that guy from the show, “Saved by the Bell,” which was far from a cool show to watch.
I Wouldn’t have told anybody but some of my friends overheard and they laughed at me too. The called me Zack for a while.
I believed I was out of sorts. Something was amiss. Then again, something was always amiss. Or, perhaps it was just the times. Maybe this is just life when you’re young and starting out.
I was driving while thinking, but yet, I was not thinking about the road at all. My body drove and knew what to do. However, my mind was someplace else.
Rather than exit at my usual exit to head home and go back to my life while dwelling in a basement, I kept driving, heading further south this time towards the beaches on the south shore.
I did this without thinking. There was no thought at all, just action. It was a warm New Year’s that year. It was warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket and I was awake enough that I could use the victory of some good fresh air.
I headed to the beach in a town called Point Lookout. I wanted to go here because the place is familiar to me. This place was comfortable to me as well.
The sky was growing in sunlight. I wanted to head to the beach and watch the colors of dawn spread across the horizon above the shore, which it was.
I could smell the change in the air. I drove passed the marsh and down, onto the Loop Parkway, over the Loop Parkway Bridge.
The tide was low if I’m not mistaken. I could smell the sea. I could see the waters in the canals, which were calmly moving inward and mainly flat.
I was closer now. I could see the inlet, which opened up to ocean on my left. The sun was growing stronger now and the morning was building upwards into the sky.
I drove in through the outbound side of the parking lot. I remembered this place from when I was a kid.
I remembered the last time I was here with my family—I remembered a girl that was on one of the nearby blankets and feeling uncomfortable for her—not because she was ugly or overweight, or anything other than because she was her, and she was unafraid to be her —but who she appeared to be and how she appeared to carry herself was the alternate of cool and so painfully awkward, yet, she seemed to be herself without struggle. And me, I never dared to be so brave.
Safe to say this random girl of no importance would have no recollection of this, nor would there be a reason for her to recollect the event; however, my recollection is due to a connection of my thoughts, which led me to the realization of self—or then again, I could also say this connected me to the lack of self.
I love the beach this way. I love it when it is empty. The sun was up and there was no one else around. The colors along the horizon were enough to say, “Happy New Year!”
My top button to my tuxedo shirt was unhooked and the bow tie was no longer hooked as well, — instead, the tie was just dangling around the collar.
I pulled out one of my Camels from my package and placed the butt in my mouth. The wind was calm enough but I still cupped the flame and lit my cigarette in the same fashion all the time. I lit my smokes the same way, all the time.
This was an action to me. There was a way this was done to create style. I even rehearsed the way I exhaled my first drag, as if to express the satisfied need of my first inhale, which followed with the click of the lighter and its return into my pants pocket.
Everything was an action. Everything was something under the microscope. More accurately, everything was in my head —and the stress and the tension, the need to fit and the desire to want, to be, to live, to love—and the artist in me, which I swore I’d never let anyone see or know about —it was all there with me on the beach that morning.
I stood in my coolest approach with nothing left to abandon but my sad little secrets which I exposed and told to the wind.
It’s amazing what the ocean does.
The waves come in to wash the sands and then remove the sediments and wash them out with the tide. This happens in perfect anonymity.
I suppose this was as good a place as any to give my confession. And in the same breath, I could say this was the perfect place for me to come for redemption (—and be absolved.)