Three Weeks Gone

I suppose, in a way, I’m hoping people will stop checking the blog so I can just write stuff for me to read later in my life. Which defeats the purpose of a blog, I guess, since I could just as easily keep a journal.

I remember a night almost twenty years ago now. It was the summer of ’87, and we were at a girl named Jessica’s house, and we were drinking vodka and playing music. It was nearing the end of the summer, and my two best friends were going away to college, away being to Rutgers and, I think, Parsons School of Design, but since I was moving to Los Angeles, we all knew we were on borrowed time.

These two guys, Chris and Chris, it turns out, had been through a lot of shit with me. I had slept with both of their girlfriends, they had both hooked up with my sister, we, all three of us, had driven a stolen Mercedes at 115 MPH just to see what it would feel like, and we had stood on the rocks at the edge of the Atlantic ocean at four something in the morning and, during a lull in the conversation, happened to all three be looking up when the nipple of the sun popped up over the water. I taught Chris C. the trick of barfing so you can drink more beer, Chris C. taught me that when people are annoyed by your shit-talking, don’t stop, just keep going until you get over the hump and Chris B. taught me to listen to the drum line.

I’m sure this all seems pretty pedestrian romanticizing, I can’t imagine that anyone looks back on being 17 without a wisp of regret or yearning. Let me say for the record that, as much as I might have loved to be 17 in 87, the miracle of listening to my wife sleep almost silently with her nose in my neck is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and if I have to have bum knees and bad eye-sight for the rest of my life, I’d still rather be me, here, now, then me, there, then.

But we were at Jessica’s and, as usual, the days and nights were spinning by me in a blur. That night we had sacked Jessica’s house as if we were hippy vikings, all of us dirty and drunk and singing songs too loud. I have no idea where anyone’s parents were, in the 80s in New Jersey, nobody seemed to have parents. We had been playing “The Way I Walk” by the Cramps, Michelle was there, with some guy five years older than her trying to get her drunker, and Jessica and I were in the middle of our every-half-hour, on-again-off-again year long affair, and this half hour, she was interested in losing her virginity.

We were in her room, I remember between the two of us I was wearing the only pair of jeans, and Chris B. walked in. He apologized, said he was leaving, said he loved me and that he’s see me when I came back out to visit. He was leaving for New York the next morning. I got up to hug him, and he left the room before I could. It occurs to me that my getting up may have left Jessica in an indelicate circumstance, and, of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. I only just realized it right now, 18 and a half years later.

I sat with Chris in his car. We talked for two hours outside the house, smoking rolled cigarettes. He kept saying that we were all about to change, and it wasn’t just California and Rutgers, that we were all about to lose something. I remember clearly, he said he felt like we were at a moment, adrift for the only time American youth was going to be adrift. He could be hilarious, but also MASSIVELY introspective, and this was one of those times. He fancied himself an old wise man, even though he was barely 18, so he was always going on long-winded pronouncements, but I was ALWAYS a willing audience. I loved him deeply, even when I disagreed with him completely.

He said that we were the court jesters of American history, that we were here for the one time when the whole thing will be funny. I remember him emphasizing that, that the late 80s was gonna be the most hilarious and ridiculous time to be disaffected youth, or to be youth that, like us, cared a lot about a lot of things. He sat in the car mocking our politics, mocking our concept of free love, mocking us for going to a peace rally in DC only three months earlier, which we had. I don’t remember what peace we were fighting for in ’87, but we went to DC to do it.

At a certain point, I become horribly aware that he was sorta crying, and this was not the kind of thing that we did. I mean, we were hippies, we were dirty and drunk, but we were still teenage guys, for chrissake. He wasn’t sobbing, I just saw that, in the middle of tearing through his diatribe, his eyes were leaking. I guess I should say ripping through his diatribe. Damn homomorphs.

The funny thing about the whole evening is… Well, the funniest thing about the whole evening is that in the middle of something he was saying, he started coughing like a cat, reached back into his molars and brought out a pubic hair. But the strangest thing about the evening is that, if I could go back, I would certainly want to go back and apologize to Jessica. This wasn’t the first time I’d treated her like shit, I basically treated every single girl I knew like shit.

I’ve changed since then, but I have changed through a series of brutal attacks that I’ve either engineered or endured. That sweet girl was really a wonderful person, a good friend to me who always seemed to adore me. She had a scar running down the middle of her chest from when she was a baby, she had heart surgery and nearly died, and she had bad circulation still when she was a teenager. Man, I wish I could say something to her that would make her not currently affected by my bad behavior.

I don’t know. I’ve been dwelling a lot on the kind of damage we do to one another. I start telling a story like this, and I can see everyone reading it rolling their eyes, thinking “yeah, Sean, you were a fucking ROCKSTAR… asshole.” But it isn’t like that. I look back on most of my behavior from 1984 through 1998 and I’m not really proud of anything. All I remember is the asshole part, and the part where I THOUGHT I was a rockstar.

I was horrible, and it took me listening to the people who liked me for the buried kernels of goodness to get half way between asshole and awesome. And I know it’s probably generous to say half-way, but I think this half-way is as good as I can do right now.