Okay so here’s the schtick. You’re going to stick your hand in there, no, not there, there, and then just hold it there. Now don’t move. I mean it.
Okay now you over there with the pigtails. Get the fuck over here. I want you to take your foot across, yeah like that, and then just hold it. No you can’t use the bathroom. I don’t care if it’s emergency. Well, Sally, you should’ve thought of that before you decided to play the goddamn game.
Alright now Will. I want you to get over here. Okay you little fuckface take your left arm, no your left arm, jesus christ what’s the point of school, and you’re going to place it right next to Sally’s leg. See that little dot? That’s where you want to go.
Now Sally see that blue spot right there? According to this, you want to take your other hand and reach for it. Just, yeah okay you got it and NO WILL ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME SHE DIDN’T EVEN TOUCH YOU AND YOU FELL. Great fucking job kid now we have to start all the way over. Clear the mat. And get that fucking dirt off it what do I look like a cleaning lady? Alright let’s do this again.
if I clean everything would you come back (variations on a theme)
the first person to show me this song was a friend, a complicated friend, who i lost two days after my birthday, two days after he sexually assaulted an even closer, mostly uncomplicated, friend.
there’s a variation on this theme.
the first person i shared this song with was a close friend, my first best friend, who i lost a month later when i chose to stop speaking to him, for reasons of jealousy, of hurt, of a misplaced, unspoken trust that neither of us would ever change, which we did.
and another variation.
the first person i came to for help pretended to know this song already when i played it for him. i told him it sends me down a spiral of sadness but in like a Good Way not a Sad Way and he said yeah i’ve heard of this guy before, yeah his mixtapes are pretty good.
it’s the same melody over and over again but composed differently throughout all followed by a weak whisper of “that’s not it” and if you listen to it too many times you can’t help but grow angry, after each cold, enchanting refrain plays, why that’s not it because it certainly sounds like it should be it.
and you’ll grow angry again and again because the weak whisper begins to ask again and again if i cleaned everything would you come back, if i cleaned everything would you come back and you just want to scream NO they won’t. because cleanliness isn’t the point. it never was the point.
the point is the betrayal, and how i wasn’t surprised by them big or small. i’ve been the person both asking and being asked this question and the answer will always be no. if i cleaned everything, my behavior, my innate sociopathy, my inability to see women as humans, friends, would you come back?
if i washed myself of my jealousy, acknowledged that my actions were rooted in the desire to be the first and only person in your life, said i’m sorry, would you come back?
if i show you something special, something that could just be ours, would you realize no one’s asking you to pretend, and would you put down the xanax for just a second, and simply be?
three different people, all variations on a theme.
The 125th Annual Turkey Trot, Buffalo, New York, 2020
I'm afraid, if it ever comes down to it, that I will not be able to run for my life. Swim, maybe, but not run. I can see now the asthmatic particles clouding my chest after just a minute in motion. Feel my throat seal, causing my breaths to sound like that of a pack a day smoker's, which, granted, they are; I am. I'll probably be clutching my juul close to my heart as I run, knowing that while it isn't the sole reason I'll meet my end at the hands of whomever or whatever I am running from, it certainly impeded the effort.
I'm afraid, if it ever comes down to it, that I will not be able to save myself in the most literal sense, when saving myself is all I've been trying to do these last few years. Retreating from crowds of people into the corner of my second floor bedroom, telling myself that I'd spent enough time around people this week. Now it's time for a reset, a respite, a break. Spending hours, days alone, undisturbed, afraid to look anyone in the eye for fear they would ask too much from me, whether that too much is caring about the unjustices perpetrated onto them or a simple hello in return.
I'm afraid, when it comes down to it, that I will not be able to run the entirety of the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning this year, as I have not been able to do in the seven years my family has committed to participating in the race. Afraid that once again I will be the lone walker they're waiting for at the end of the 5 mile stretch through downtown Buffalo, standing at the edge of Colonial Circle, cheering me on as I'm swallowed by a crowd of runners channeling that last bit of adrenaline to propel themselves over the finish line.
I was afraid when I was young and fueled by TV non-realities and the desperate need to Get Out of a space that didn't need escaping that if the day ever came when a man, young or old, stepped out of a blue box and told me to Run, I would not make it. I would not become that companion. I would not see the world.
And I'm afraid that because the do not of running has become a cannot, I will stop, suspended in a three-walled cubicle in an open-floor plan office, content with walking and pacing rather than chasing. I'll let my lungs fill, my bones grow heavy, time slip by simply because I never learned how to run for my life.