I sat alone in coffee shops and pizza joints. Back then, Starbucks was still a novelty and on the first day there, I folded and tucked a napkin with their logo on it into my journal. A memento. Little would I know that Starbucks would quickly show up in every city and in some cities, on every block. That’s how it was then. Everything was special. I was on the cusp; on the verge.
I sat and wrote in free association style, my handwriting getting more sloppy with each hour. I would listen to music on my discman or sometimes I would remove my headphones and just listen to the words around me. When I ran out of inspiration, I would write, verbatim, the words being said, then I would expound upon them with my own words. Everything was deep; everything had meaning.
Near an overpass for a train bridge there was a large billboard that stated “Next Time You Come Kurt, Come As You Are.” I was in Cobain country. This brought a certain darkness to everything. I thrived in the darkness, sinking deeper, twisting into it. I found hidden meanings in things; everything was fraught with dysfunction.
I stayed with my aunt who was always teetering and my cousin whose husband blew glass and sold pot to pay the rent. The house was crammed full of beautiful pieces of furniture and memories of dead people. My aunt went to bed at 3am and woke at noon, never refreshed. Her bedroom was a storeroom for back issues of newspapers – they were in perfect stacks around the room. Newspapers covered her bed, except for the cut-out shape of a person asleep in the fetal position. Each night she would ease herself back into the spot and that’s where she would lay. I relished the depression around me, letting myself dip my toes into it, some part of me knowing I could still break free if I wanted to. I was Teenager Epitomized.
This trip was to be a sort of rumspringa, but I struggled to hold onto my sense of God. Here, life seemed timeless and stretched out ahead in suspension. Nothing was resolved and nothing talked about. It wasn’t winter but it wasn’t spring. Everything was dead. Hopeless. I couldn’t stay.