Letters From the Eastside – Letter Fourteen

Dear Mother Directional,

I was thinking about an unintentional road trip that I took a while back. I say this was unintentional because there was no pre-set intention or direction. I had no place to go or an idea of anywhere I wanted to see. Then again, I suppose none of that mattered.
No, I just sat in the car and allowed myself to drive in whichever direction the car would take me. I had no plans as to how long this drive would be or if I would be back by a certain time. Sometimes drives like this are the best drives of all. Sometimes you just need to unplug yourself.

The music was right. The day was pretty and the sun was as bright as ever; however, this was wintertime, so there was no warmth – just a bright sky and a sharp wind. But that was fine.
I liked it this way. The sun was beaming down against the empty trees and, to me, it was a cold winter in more ways than one. New York will always be my home and it is for reasons like this; it’s days like this one and drives like the one I took which I connect to my reasons for why I love my town or my place of birth.
At the time, I was somewhere between purgatory and my own confusion. I was in-between so many things but, at the same time, I didn’t care where I was. At least not at this moment.
I didn’t care where my friends were or if I had friends at all. I wasn’t thinking about anyone or worried who was thinking about me – or if I was missed or noticed. At least, I wasn’t thinking about the girl who left me or insulted me as a person. I wasn’t thinking about the dead-end job or the spiritless moments at work which rob us from our sanity as a theft of service of our best potential.

That wasn’t the point of this. I was fortunate to have a full tank of gas and was young enough to be resilient and learn to endure. I remember my car was a blue, four-door Chevy that was less than spectacular. The car was loud and far from anything that would turn the heads of anyone who might see me with envy or admiration. 
No, this car was not a looker at all. But it drove. The heat worked but more importantly, the radio worked, which was exactly what I needed.

I found myself in a strange sense of autopilot, driving without consciously deciding which way to turn, where to go, or how to get there. I suppose this was the day that I finally took the suggestion to “Get lost!”
Do you know what?
It wasn’t so bad.

My direction was eastbound and eventually, my intention became to drive eastwards until there was nowhere else to drive. Basically, this meant that I drove to the tip of Long Island. 
I loved this drive. There was nothing in my head and, at the same time, my head was filled with streams of counterproductivity. I was alive at a time when my love life was even less spectacular than my car. I was alone. I was facing a new change and trying to find the idea of what it means to have a career. 

I would say that at this point, I was always running from one place to the next. I was always running from something; whether this was a feeling of a loss or a moment of rejection – or if this was the dealing of another group catastrophe or my group of friends, which I would have to change regularly because of the common dramas that happen in young adult lives – I was always running away – but never towards something.

I was not wealthy by any means nor was I earning a lot of money. Most of my so-called friends or the people who I knew had good jobs. Some worked for their family business and acted as if this was their creation. They spoke as if they grew this; as if this was their big brain storm; as if they had already made their first few millions yet I remember some of them, my so-called friends, who would boast and brag and meanwhile; they’d be paying their credit card bills for the rest of their young adult lives. 

I was never much good in the dating scene. As for the nightlife, sure, I can say that I have been to some places and I have seen some things. I can say that I did subscribe to “the life,” so-to-speak, and yes, I admit that none of this was me. Instead, this was a pretended version of who I really was.

I remember putting on my outfit for the evening and then looking at myself in the mirror. I can remember being immediately insecure and then changing into at least a dozen other variations of outfits – only to go back to my original choice, which was probably similar because hey, if it looked good once then I might as well kill it again until I find another outfit that could somehow make me look cool.

No one ever says these things. At least not really. No one ever admits to being this insecure or this uncomfortable or this needy for acceptance or attention. But I see no reason to lie. I see no reason to pretend like none of this existed. I can say that I have grown since then and I can say that I am no longer a young adult – but, at the same time, I can see where ideas pull the triggers of my insecurity.

I suppose I took this drive to detach from myself. Maybe I took this drive because I couldn’t stand my job situation. I couldn’t stand the anxiety. So, I called out sick. In fact, there were times when I would travel to the city and endure the commute.
Meanwhile, my head was filled with anxiety and the projection of an angry boss who was only unfair on his better days.
I remember approaching the office building where I worked at the time.
I looked the building up and down. I saw different business people walking in and out of the building’s lobby and then I would think to myself, “I just can’t want to do it!”
“I just can’t want to.”
Then I would call in sick and go back home, wishing my life was different or hoping that somewhere, somehow, somebody was about to call me with my so-called “big break.”
But the phone never rang. No, quite honestly, I was the person with an answering machine on my home phone (before cell phones took over the planet) and I’d see the red numerals or double-zeros to indicate that there were no messages for me.

This drive that I am telling you about started early and lasted the entire day. I went out and started to drive. I didn’t care where I went or how long it took me to get there. Besides, none of that mattered to me.
Instead, all that mattered was that I was away from the stress and away from the drama.
All that mattered was that there was no such thing as screaming bosses. I had a cup of coffee. I had a few cigarettes left, Camel’s to be exact. I had an ongoing stream of music to boost the soul and when there was no more land between myself and the sea, I stopped in a little dive of a place. I went into a little spot where the waitress called me sweetie and brought me a bowl of soup. 

I can’t say that I remember what the soup was. However, what I do remember was the kindness from a stranger and the warmth of the soup. I remember the feeling of being satisfied for the moment and my soul’s right to sigh in relief.

The truth is I had just been dumped by a girl who told me that I was no good; that I would never make something of myself and that if she were to stay with me, it would mean that she would have to work for a living too. And she didn’t want to work.
She wanted to be taken care of, which meant that I wasn’t good enough. She wanted someone who could offer more financial security and that wasn’t me. Instead, I was a person who had no direction and had no idea what I wanted to do when I “grew up.”
I suffered the hit to my pride and faced rejection as if this were devastating news. I had been cheated on and lied to. Yet, I had done the exact same things that were done to me. So, how could I complain about the wheels of karma?

My love life was poor and my work life was lacking but, for the moment, I was fine to be by myself. I was fine to enjoy a bowl of soup alone with no worry if people would wonder why I was alone. I was okay to be alone and, in fact, I preferred it this way.

My drive to and from was somewhat mindless and free. Time blurred and the boundaries between myself and freedom were disintegrated by the music I played, the coffee I drank, and my foot which pressed upon the gas pedal.

It’s good. You know?
To get away sometimes – to drive off without worrying what’s behind you or what’s waiting for you. It’s good to detach from worries or if a supervisor is looking to betray you or cut your head off in front of your coworkers.
It’s good to unplug from the social and professional viruses that kill the spirit and derail us from our purpose.

I have not taken a drive like this in a very long time. But I do relate to the need for a break. I can see where this detachment is not only healthy but lifesaving. 

Anyway, I have to go now, Mother.

I’m on the clock in a few minutes, working for a living, and hoping that maybe the phone will ring and there it’ll be – my big break, so my real life can begin. Everything else before it was just training. But I’m ready now, Mother. I am alive and waiting. 

Just give me the chance.

Love always,
Your son


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