Yesterday, I did the math. I tallied up the hours spent in a cramped room with a laptop surrounded by people doing the same. If my job’s based on 160-hour months, then so far this year I’ve worked through June. It was 8 pm. I almost fell asleep in the elevator. This is leading to something. I'm counting all this time spent 26 floors up as time spent with my head scraping the sky. I have to.
My last cigarette ever was in the Mojave desert, bathing in moonlight halfway up the Kelso Dunes with a Mag-Lite and a bottle of scotch. I felt small, quiet, so I promised to myself that I’d reach the summit someday when I’m not off an overnight Vegas bender, with proper gear and a lung cleaner of tar. That was New Year's.
I could never see myself living in New York. I’ve got so many ghosts in New York. Hell, everyone’s got ghosts in New York. Chicago’s a smaller, cleaner take on that city, brutally cold but with humble Midwestern charm. The spring may thaw, but this winter softened me. I like falling asleep to the gradients of purple and white the sky paints on my windows.
Years ago at a café called Antidote, I sat in stilted silence and felt heartbeats trickle through the floorboards. On the table next to me was a small wooden box. It’s there right now, it’s gotta be. In it was a scrap of paper with a Khalil Gibran quote that's still sticky in the back of my memory: “…Ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
I’m a copywriter. I was even featured on Modern Copywriter, but a year or so removed now I wonder how much of that was a crock. I write a lot for social media. I goad myself into calling what I do “commercial art”, that the kind of writing I'm burning out on is poetry. The distillation of a single idea to its barest bones. But I’m not a poet, not like that, not anymore.
Mental illness has me convinced I'm living a massive prank. Whenever I have too much red wine or more often, when I don’t, I live as a wound spring. Teetering, waiting until my ears start ringing. Waiting to wrestle with my darker corners. But I'm better than them. I can love until loving grows ragged. Until rain tears down sewers, until the front door goes creaky. I can care.
The odd, misshapen hollowness pulling at me will fill. I’m someone who hurts weary, listless. I’m typing this sitting on my couch in my underwear with soapy fingertips. If only I were a praying man.
Some letters I’ll dedicate this email to: J for introducing me to The Listserve, A for pushing me to keep creating, V for being my art director and somehow tolerating this nonsense.
Still can't believe I won the Listserve. Considering I also beat the odds of the H1-B visa lottery (look it up and tell me it's not massively fucked) a few weeks ago, maybe I should buy some scratch-offs.
I’m @ananter on most social media. Look me up and say hello, that’d be really nice. If you like my writing, there's more at arbitrarynumbers (dot) com. Thanks for reading.