by Galvin Chapman
with photos by Max Deeb
I look around myself for evidence of a good life every day. Sometimes it’s easy to find, sometimes I only find evidence to the contrary. On days where the latter predominates the former, I see all of my co-workers and their smooth ability to communicate and socialize with each other. I see their connections and their bonds build thick. I hear them laughing and having something to say next, without it infringing on their ability to listen. I hear them say things to me, only to be deflected by ineffable walls that restrain me from affable responses. My bonds don’t build and my connections don’t thicken. I rarely honestly laugh and it affects my ability to listen.
I leave work and I forget all about it. Until I get home.
As I’m greeted with open arms at home, what I lack stares me in the face. My emotions hang low, like ripe fruit on a tree ready to be picked—or, perhaps more appropriately, like the fruit laying rotten on the ground below the ripe fruit, dissolving into its environment. Right on the other side of the door, on the couch, my roommate and his current emotional and physical romance lie on the couch holding each other. I make small talk. I see their bond growing tighter by the second. I see their fears of what could be fading away into pure hopefulness and excitement for their future. Down the hall I hear the thumping of an emotionless, yet emphatic fuck-session taking place in my other roommate’s room. I hear the moaning of desire and pleasure. I see the walls vibrate from passion. I make dinner for myself. I jerk off. I go to sleep.
I’ve never truly felt connected to the social network manifested by the human spirit. It’s like everybody’s playing this game called sociability and I’m just standing on the sideline, scaling the field with the players, but never participating. Everybody jumps in and out as they please, so fluidly, so without thought. I consistently want to jump into the game, but every time I see a play, the game becomes so clearly ridiculous to me. Like, the rules are arbitrary and the plays unoriginal; the players self-indulgent and the laws of motion predictable; the winners always celebrating the losers always sulking; stats reflect each players’ unattainable status and unveil those who aspire to attain the same; and I turn around to find the bleachers empty and that I am often the only spectator while everyone else has joined this clusterfuck of a game at some point or another.
Friday nights I like to take my guitar and ripped up clothes to the curb of the city. Give the impression that I’m poor and fashionably hungry. Play songs of guilt and misery to the stumbling suits and dresses.
Sometimes I run into Scuzball and Cookie, and we kick it at their squat, which is under a bridge, but above the underpass. They shoot up while I sing songs to them and drink my forty ounce of malt liquor. They often doze off into oblivion together while I enter the lonely, self-loathing stage of my inebriation. Like clockwork I dangle my feet over the architecture, 100 feet above the underpass. I sing songs to the cars whizzing by below and consider the easy way out. And like clockwork I look up. Ten feet above my head, spray painted on the concrete of the underside of the bridge is my saving literature. It reads:
So, here’s to saying all the wrong things at the right times and, for that matter, saying all the right things at the wrong times;
To those who demand absolute perfection, but emanate imperfection;
To having the choice to perceive the world as we please, but only growing to learn one way to perceive it;
To living interpersonally unified, yet intrapersonally disconnected;
To the words that tie everything together except the absolutes that provide a foundation for a society limited by the refusal of the possibilities beyond those absolutes, by which is dismantled;
To the heart of art that is, apparently, not worth much more than a glance over and a few bucks;
To the deceased that had so much more to say and to the living, that they may stop thinking they have the fucking right to say it for them;
To the emotionally distraught, that one day your highs be low and your lows be high;
To whoever thought that anything, good or bad, wasn’t transient. Your gullible hope is what keeps the rest of us going;
To my coworkers who only ever see smiles and handshakes and will never read this, because personal disclosure is inappropriate in the workplace;
To whoever the fuck found a profession that they enjoy and is also self-sustaining;
To those whose lives are not oversaturated with social endeavors and where loneliness is their prevailing emotion;
To when tomorrow becomes today and today becomes yesterday, that we can just say:
Here’s to living just one more day.
And like clockwork I stumble home along the sidelines, singing songs to empty bleachers and a vibrantly lit up scoreboard. I don’t care who’s winning, I don’t want to participate.