Letters From the Eastside – Letter One

Dear Mother Directional,

It appears a lot has happened to your city since your last visit. I am not sure you would recognize the place – or want to. I found myself in the old stomping grounds from when I was a young salesman in a suit and tie with a briefcase and a list filled with dreams. The Avenues are the same but much of the stores are different now. The side streets are almost ghost-like and with phantom junkies nodding in doorways near 35th Street by 8th Avenue.
It was sad to see how open this is and how flagrant people are with their drug use, as in right there on the street – needles pushed in the veins of lost-eyed victims who pop-off into close-to-death space.

The City is not the same to say the least. But ah, I do remember when I would sit at the coffee shop on Broadway near Christmas time. I was young and hopeful.
I can remember the music playing in the shop with names such as Bing Crosby or Ella Fitzgerald singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
I can remember the streets and the decorations and how the snow would fall in a way that made the City look romantic.

God, I was so young and hopeful too. I thought that I would be a business owner or that if I kept working, I could take the place of brother Exceptional. That is, of course, if being exceptional was possible.

It is summertime now and the days are long. The nights are hot and the mornings awaken before the hours of a normal wake-up.
I am certainly not a young man in a suit anymore, which is not to say that I do not have the same dreams or hopes or wants.

It seems that I have this thing in me. I have these thoughts which talk to me, which is not to say that I hear voices or anything like that. No, the doctor cleared me of this a long time ago.
What I mean is I have these thoughts that talk to me and lead me to ideas of what could or might happen. Next, I have ideas that lead me to the worst possible outcomes or to tragic scenarios. And next, I get scared. Then my anxiety hits. And then my thoughts become catastrophes. 

Someone told me there is a word for this. They say it’s called “catastrophizing” which is a way of thinking that assumes things are worse than they are. When this happens, we assume the outcome will always be bad or tragic. We’ll assume the rejection before it happens and prepare for the problems before they’ve even occurred.

I have to say that I can understand what this means. I have to say the energy behind this is draining because your thoughts are always moving – and dammit all, there are times when your thoughts creep up and you just want to get up and run. You just want to run and get away – but there’s nowhere to go.

Someone told me not to worry about this. They told me that this is not terminal by any means. In fact, they simply called this being human and that thoughts like this only exist in the mind. But, if we keep thinking this is real, life certainly has a way of obliging our thinking. 

It is midway through summer now Mother and I have yet to visit any of my traditional spots. I have not traveled to the beach or passed through the gates at Point Lookout.
It’s been years since I have been on a boat or fished at sea. It’s been even longer since I’ve walked the beaches down by Ft. Lauderdale or visited the pier at Deerfield. 

I think of these places often and I go there in my mind. However, I assume a trip is in order at some point. But life is busy. Work is busy and I swear there are times when I run into myself at the door.  There are times when the complications of thought allow us to see the world like a web, in which case, we find ourselves trapped. We promise we’ll get out. And we promise we’ll make time for ourselves. We’ll say we’ll make this a priority but then something else comes up.

I suppose I tell you this because as I mentioned in my previous letter, I find myself at an impasse. I am on the verge of something new yet, the pages are turning and chapters are ending.
But come as this may, it’s me who has to prepare for the next story and at the same time, it is me who worries that I am unprepared. Or, maybe I’m scared that the story will never be finished – at least, not on time.

I go back to that young man who I used to be. I go back to the feelings I used to have when walking around in my City. I go back to the romantic ideas of me in a coffee house, perhaps writing a screenplay. As I think of this, I go back to my thoughts on the opening night of a show called RENT. 

The writer was a man named Jonathon Larson who died on January 25, 1996. It was his opening night and he was never there to see the curtain rise to his show because his curtain fell too soon. 
Perhaps my biggest fear is this could happen to me.
I think about this and my anxiety to live. I think about this and my need to go, be, or see the world that exists beyond my own perspective. 

I can remember a song from the play.
Mother, it amazes me how words can zero in and touch the hearts of so many. I am amazed by their concepts of love and how someone so brilliant comes along and changes the concepts of the mind. Yet, I am hit by the fact that with all that went into this, Larson was never around to see what he built.

One of the songs from the play sings about 525,600 minutes, which is the amount of minutes in a year. The son goes on to ask, 525,600 minutes
How do you measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In 525,600 minutes.
How do you measure a year in the life?

It is amazing how simplified this is and so profound and so beautiful. This is so thought provoking and compelling. And I don’t know.
To be honest, I’m not sure if I know how to measure a year in the life. At the same time, I’m not sure how many of our minutes are actually lived or wasted on unimportant things or unnecessary arguments. 

I can almost see it now (the coffee shop, I mean) and how I would face the window to view my City. I would write to you and discuss my dreams. Maybe this is what I need to do. Maybe this is what can help me. 
Maybe I need to discuss my dreams more and allow myself the actual feel of life as I’ve always wished it could be. 

Mother, I think Larson was onto something. I think that he was right. There are 525,600 minutes in a year and they can be wasted very easily. Next thing you know, a year becomes a decade and decades become our life. 

I will end this letter here for now. Until tomorrow that is.
Love always,
Your son,

B-

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