I'm wearing my American Flag, I mean Mickey Mouse, t-shirt, vintage 70's style ringer, legit piece of fabric, recalling my days of youth living the dream with my teenage parents as they brought my sister and I to the Magic Kingdom, a pilgrimage my mother still makes yearly.
I drink my large (I refuse to say Venti) iced coffee and eat my chocolate old fashioned doughnut from Starbucks. I got a freelance check yesterday so I am permitted to engage in consumerism today. A pack of Marlboros and I'm off to the park to relax, people watch, and write about my independence.
I never felt okay alone. I always needed someone around, maybe to tell me who I am, a reflective personality mirroring theirs, digging out the chunks that were actually me. Paranoia kicks in as I walk the streets of NYC alone, feeling like a kid wandering off on his lonesome, waiting for his Mommy to have security track him down, bring him home.
As a kid I was always alone. Trapped in my head, happily constructing complex secret agent/private dick/superhero scenerios, friends often found me and dragged me along, when I would have been happier sitting at home filming my GI Joes with my PXL2000. When they found girls I wanted to go play Super Nintendo.
Eventually I found a gang of guys, a wolfpack of dorks, nerds, and dweebs. Metal, role-playing, and sci-fi. Anime, comics, and fantasy. There was no girls about, and a varied bunch of guys to bounce off of and find out who I was. After a few years I knew, but I put myself there right away.
I was the clown. The sin-eater of the tribe, enact your anger upon me and let it be purged, for I felt nothing, although I showed you I felt everything. I laughed and made you laugh, quiet but rambunctuous when it would make for a gag. I had no deeper thoughts, and felt completely at peace in this masochistic persona.
I felt so you didn't need to, poking the wounded animal, watching it twitch. Little did everyone know I was playing possum, building up the resentment and bitterness, pushing down the guilt, overloading it with mistreatment. One day I would feel justified in my righteous anger.
Only that day never came. I let out pulses of strength, pushing me away from situations without letting them overwhelm me completely. I flowed from person to person, relationship to relationship, flipping my personality about, trying new psyches on like the new Fall Fashion. Being an amorphorus personality is the new secure identity.
Now, I'm happy for the first time. Everything is actually proceeding along where I am the one in control. I'm making things happen. I am engaged and now living with my fiancee. She is the female version of me. Yet, with her job I am forced to be alone a lot of weekends and nights.
I freaked out at first. For weeks I would have panic attacks, alone in her apartment, no money to go out, no friends to go out with. A new neighborhood I always thought I hated, my old identity as an East Village King, my only realy NYC persona, now gone, I had to find my way.
So I hit a few bars and found myself suddenly friendly and able to talk casual conversation. I was out at a bar alone one night reflecting on how just 6 years ago I wouldn't have been able to do it comfortably. Not that I was totally confident now but it was miles from where I had been back on Long Island.
I'd try and go out with the few friends I had left but mostly in big social situations, i'd still be struggling. Lost and alone in awkward moments with casual aquaintances, feeling sweaty and underdressed, stumbling through thinking everyone was scrutinizing me. It's hard not to hate everyone else for that, even though it's only in my mind.
I turn down a few offers to go out and do things for July 4th, knowing that in a sense, I now want to be alone. I stayed in last night and opened a cafepress store to sell t-shirts, edited my novel a bit, and organized my new literary adventure, Sub*Text. I felt good getting things done rather than blowing food money on booze.
I might go and watch the fireworks from the West Side Highway. I'll be alone and looking around at the couples, groups of friends, families that will no doubt be swarming the entire place, and I don't think I'll feel that same sadness I would normally feel. I think I'll look at myself, there doing whatever I want to, on my own terms, and I think I'll be happy.
I don't really need anyone else.
But if you wanna stop by Botonica in Soho and grab a drink, I'll probably be there, whiskey in hand, typing away.
Happy Independence Day.