Last night was filled with beer and literary nicknamed establishments. James Joyce pub in Tampa, followed by three drinks at Mastery’s in downtown Saint Petersburg. I could not get drunk, I was too tired, I was too detached from my environment. Somehow nothing is what I Imagined it to be, It never is. Somehow I have entrapped myself in-between two Florida cities; only a Mini mall is located across from me. In the replicated shopping center there is a Win-dixie food market, a Discount Tobacco outlet, and there is a dollar store. Dollar general sells beer, every place in Florida sells some kind of alcohol. I have left one drunk state and thrown myself in the middle of a more intoxicating environment. Ironic and an overabundance of sensual binges never seem to be at a premium. Addiction is everywhere. At least its warmer here.
If you are by choice, by fate, by luck of the draw an artist, you have to understand that you will at times make mistakes. Sometimes you must choose the alternative. Many will think you are unwise, unfounded, and they may even think that you lack restraint. Some may say, that at this moment in my life, that I am trapped within a mistake. I am stranded. I don’t no how to get home. I’m not even sure where home is. Do I want to even get back to Michigan? Does my home, my past, and do my social ties even exist anymore? In truth, is it possible, that my reality, my art, my dreams and my nightmares are really just magnified and glorified inside of my messed up and uncorked perception?
All of these questions, they are motivated by a internal desire, but they are also only skeptical in their unformed manifestation. I am constantly squinting at could be allies. I am always on the prowl for the holy grail, lost in the crossroads of an ambiguous adventure. What is the conclusion that I will find? Only time will tell. The only thing that I can do now is work, write, and let go of my internal doubts in order to get back home. Of course, you can even loudly stress, that I have placed myself inside of a crazy situation; surrounded by Brazilian drug dealers, domestically violent lovers, pill poppers, tiny lizards, and crying babies. And for what? What do I think I will uncover? I’m blindly searching for something I already know; digging in the sand with a plastic shovel for ideas that I may be able to place in a paper-bound book that in all honesty probably will never be published. Nonsense! What am I doing here. I now ask this question that I kept hidden inside over and over again. I find no solution, no unseen variables, and I find no qualitative truths. I can only ask the question. But still, I find nothing.
Today I went for a walk around the apartment complex, took in the heat, that even in the winter in Florida compares to the best days of a Michigan Summer. I kept walking around and looking into the sky. Planes, birds, and clouds pass overheard, I just admirably observe. This area is very basic, its void of the social interaction that I am used to. There is nothing but a long highway that leads in one direction to Saint Pete, and the other to Tampa Bay. The apartment that I’m staying at is cut straight out of a catalog; it’s a white washed and gated community. I feel as if I am caught in a horrible dream; a nightmare that at this moment I desperately want to be awoken from.
At Twenty Eight years old I have run away from my life. There are many doubts concerning everything that scatters around rampantly in my mind. I am confused. I feel like I might be going mad. But insanity is not an option, there is not enough time, I have to complete my work. I doubt my writing, I may never be good enough. My shadows have followed me over state lines to a place without sidewalks, without snow, and to a place without seasonal divides. I doubt myself. I keep writing. Maybe it will all come together this time. A long sabbatical from my art is about to be taken, first I must persevere through this torment.
Without money, down to my last pack of cigarettes, and writing desperate ramble down in my notebook the conflict of existence that I interact with is self created; its like I enjoy the emotional downturn and anarchy that my chaos provokes. There is too much sunlight, shopping centers, homeless people, punks, tattoos, street light and slurred words. All of this is nonsense. Doubt Is nothing but nonsense.
Down the street I keep walking, my shoes are torn, and my hair flops around like a wig. Next to a A.T.M machine is a Water Machine; one dollar for a jug of water, I keep walking. I pass by newspaper stands, the Headline reads: “WERE ALL ALONE“. I believe the quote was referring to the Earthquake that happened in Haiti, but the rest of the paper was cut off. How fitting of a headline, I thought sarcastically to myself. I was starving, I was out of smokes, and I was wandering around without a plan in a foreign city. How perfect, we are all alone, I am all alone, I laughed out loud, and then a stranger looked my way to see what was so damn funny. I did not want to make eye contact. I turned my head in the other direction.
Slowly walking down Center Street, the main drag in downtown Saint Petersburg. I have decide not to venture elsewhere in my daily walk. Not like it would matter though. At this moment it does not appear that I’m trying passionately to look for a job. My sociological imagination is searching for input; it’s looking for little morsels of reality that I can include inside of my writing. Nothing yet is open in this town. It now almost Ten A.M. It seems that this city starts its business day around noon; usually I do as well.
In and out of a few doors looking for some cash, I ask the shop owners if they are currently hiring. I don’t really want to work at the hot dog stand, the burger joint, the shipping plant, the football stadium, the meat market, the booze store, and I’m not that sure that I’m cut out for the unpopulated and hidden cafe. I really don’t want to work for anyone, anywhere, and in any time-zone. My body language must inform the management and the yellow hat wearing cadets of this personal truth of mine. I’m too fidgety, I always have a pen and paper ready for action, my hair is too long and unkempt, my eyes are too drenched with my dreams, my grin is too telling. One look at me and they surly can tell want a bum I am. One quick glimpse and you can see it all, exactly what I am. The merchant man can look all the way into my mind for free, there is no charge at all. They all know, just like I know, that my mind is elsewhere; it is somewhere far off in the distance of the unknown. But still, I still keep asking if anyone is hiring. What an absurd comedy this all is. I laugh as I am judged, as the world judges my worth with zeros and ones. I used to let this get me down. I would worry about tomorrow, not anymore. I am alive. I breathe the air and sweat in the heat today. I laugh and keep walking. What else can you do?
In the door I ask a woman at the Deli if they are hiring; briefly I explain my travels and personal situation. “I’m sorry, no were not”, the lady says to me. I’m polite, well- spoken, and usually, I’m the kind of person that they would like to know when they are not at work. When they tell me that they can’t offer me a position its as if they feel bad for me. I am not too worried about it. Don’t feel bad, it’s just life, calm down pretty lambs, I will be just fine. I have been turned down from another career path. What now shall a poor boy do? Well I turn around, walk out a different door, and back out into the main street of society I shall pander towards.
Crowds are starting to swarm Center Street around this time. In another door I go, then it swings shut, and back and forth and in and out, one foot after the other this dance keeps right on repeating for two or three straight hours. This place reminds me of Michigan, but only with better weather. All these ideas and books read and degrees earned, still I can’t be trusted to put mayonnaise on a bun or to place Joe’s beer in a brown bag. Please don’t feel bad for me. It’s not your fault that I only have one dress shirt, that I have no clue how to tie a Windsor Knot, and its not your fault that I walked into your established asking for a Job wearing sandals. Who am I kidding. I’m not Jesus Christ. Settle down, I’ll wipe that tear, please Don’t feel bad for this kid. I’m not giving it my all, this is easy to observe. Maybe I will trade it all in, the typewrite and the piles of papers and the sleepless night. Maybe I will give up the pen for the stage and become a acting participant for eight hours a day, sometimes less I suppose. Maybe I will change my ways, just not right now. For I am transfixed and obsessed with searching for a plot, I do this with persistence and moxy. Your grease, your cash, your time-clock, and of course your verbal warnings would just be filler for me right now. I’m twenty-seven years old now. I’ve had countless disposable jobs. From selling Vacuum cleaners to stocking the selves, Ive seen it all. I’m a writer. There is nothing left for me inside of the glass door. Back on the streets I go.
Florida is a strange place for a northerner like myself. Without seasons you start to lose track of time. The Winter means nothing to me, the month of January is toothless. You don’t really have to worry about the weather at all here. Your body calms down, your heart slows, and breathing becomes easier. One thing I am going to miss when I go back up to Michigan is the Sun that is always out down here. Staying up all night writing is easier when you fingers are not frozen.
I’m looking everywhere for my ride, I want to get the hell out of here. I look back down at my pad. Just then, another interesting thing happens to me. A random man notices me, he is disheveled, his hands keep shaking, and his hands are frantically waving in the air. He next to me on the bench and starts screaming in my ear. Wars, Politics, religion, and how he can’t find a job anywhere. How the whole city is a piece f shit, the cops are crooked, and rich abuse the poor. He talks about these very serious problems for five minutes or so, then he asks me why I halted my writing as soon as he started talking. ” I thought you were a reporter”, he says to me. ” He stares right into my eyes, “Don’t ya care about this noise.” I should have played around for a while but I don’t want to waste this gentleman’s time. I tell him that I am no reporter, not even close, and that I am an unpublished writer from Michigan you just arrived down here in Florida via the greyhound bus-line. Shaking his head, I sense discouragement from him, and he gets up and walks away from me. He wanted me to get the word out. He said nobody would listen. I listened. Dude, calm down, take it easy, the word is out. Just as the political minded schizophrenic man gets up, I here a honk behind me. Its my Janie. She is here to bring me back to the apartment. For me the writing now stops. It at last is time for me to sleep. Its time for me to take my shoes off and detach from this alien land that I just explored.