Two and a half glasses of chardonnay, one eight ounce Red Bull, a few black coffees in between spreadsheets, suffocating amounts of unbearable pressure closing in on me like room with shrinking walls - what does it even matter anymore? Renegades, degenerates, and broken people roam the halls of an airport terminal, and I am no exception to the rule. A smuggler is being escorted off the plane upon landing because he couldn’t suppress the lure of getting (literally) high on his own supply mid-flight in the bathroom; someone’s poor child stumbles into the lunacy occurring in the plastic phone booth box that deposits human waste products at 35,000 feet (cruising altitude), giving a whole new meaning to the mile high club. Sniffing away his faculties and his freedom with a single inhale, and firmly supplanting himself into the annals of history. That is destiny! That is pioneering! Taking life by it’s big, meaty clackers and swinging around like a scantily clad, off-the-rails, washed-up pop star in her newest music video. So as I sit here, wolfing down a chocolate bar before I travel across the country to do nothing productive, I wonder if the quirky brunette sitting across from me, the one with with elegant handwriting, is also manifesting her destiny in the spiral bound notebook that rests atop her crossed thighs.
Mental clarity. It smacks you across the face like a deranged ex-girlfriend at the most unlikely of times, reddening your face and wiping your vision clean of any falling impediments from the stormy summer sky. You skip the same pop song you saved years ago whenever it manages to climb its way to the top of your queue; it no longer has its allure, losing its luster over the years as you grow old and weary and tasteless.
Yet the feeling of grandeur cognizance strikes you when you hear that same bygone pop song in an entirely different environment. As you feel the effects of the waterfall of tequila waters, garnished with jalapeños and complimented with prosciutto from the charcuterie board that straddles your table, as you take in the stinging desert air, enjoying a celebration of life with the boys you call your adopted brothers, as the intoxicating aura of the dimly lit, upscale suburban bistro overtakes your spirit, you realize that the long-forgotten song was the missing piece. Nowhere on earth except for this location at this given moment could revive your love for that song that you discovered what seems like eons ago, and now it is once again cemented into the part of your brain that recognizes pleasant sounds. The hopelessly romantic, cautiously optimistic beat vibrates across the sound barrier, and the moment of clarity strikes the gong situated in the epicenter of your cerebral cortex - a vast sea of nothingness.
Tequila shots with attractive mothers the day before their celebration; her tender wisdom and soft heart gracing your goosebump-filled back as she lectures you about her first marriage; pounding baselines from the back-alley DJ who looks like he sells drugs to high schoolers before homecoming; sugary drinks and steroid users; Ubers to downtown and takeout stir-fry; vertical bottles of Diet Coke - the vast sea of nothingness surrounds you in the open waters of your perception. There is no rescue boat waiting at a nearby aircraft carrier to save you from your own demise, because there is nothing to be saved from. The endless hustling, bustling, productive means to ends has grinded to a halt, and now you must decide if you continue onward without a roadmap. Your friend tells you there is no excuse to have a beer in your left hand at all times, and to this statement you have no rebuttal, as the meaning runs deeper than the literal implications of excessively consuming fermented wheat drinks at every waking hour.
So does it really matter that your flight home will be miserable to the point of self-harm becoming a viable option? Does the guy who wakes up on the abandoned sofa on the side of the highway need to have an explanation as to why he ended up there after a long night of drunken stupor? The cars whizz by him, as if he is a lonely astronaut floating through the asteroid belt, lost and never found, confused and hopeless beyond reason, wondering which colossal space rock will put him out of his misery. To passer-bys, he is a drunk idiot. To himself, he is also a drunk idiot. Who is right? That is the wrong question. Nothing good happens after midnight, and that platitude is nothing more than supporting evidence for why you should become a night owl.
The reset button comes in many shapes and sizes, and disguises itself as decadence and profligacy. A concerted effort to retreat will only result in more feelings of escapism, to which you will realize there is no true escape. Your VCR does not come with an option to pause - the only two choices you have are play and eject, and the latter often has fatal consequences. No cheat codes or shortcuts exist in this video game, nor does the respawn button - at least not in most instances.
Kick your feet up and relax.
Or thrust yourself forward, full tilt.
Just please, for the love of God, stop asking yourself why. I promise to do the same.
“Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!” - Raskolnikov, from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment