Let Me Tell You Something About This Life I Built
May 23, 2023
Let me tell you something about this life I built. You see, I’m a patient motherfucker. I’m a wait in the tall grass motherfucker. You probably see me in the big house, with the carefully manicured lawn, and the 401(k) statements and the kids’ birthday parties and all kind of cakes and cookies and must think you stumbled upon a sedentary man. A man doesn’t know how to be active kind of man. A man resting, a man at rest.
I came here tonight to correct this vision of yours. I want you to know exactly what’s waiting for you in that grass.
Two decades ago there wadn’t no big house, no pretty lawn, no kids, no bank statements, nothing. I lived almost entirely outside the regular framework. I took everything I wanted regardless of who claimed ownership. I lived with anarchists. I looked up to those that dropped out and gave up on anything we might call society. I wrote poetry and performed on stages and stole shit and drank to pleasurable excess. I didn’t take no bite of the apple. I unclenched my jaw and took the whole thing down, one gulp. Shit out the core.
I’m mindful of the statute of limitations because I need to be. I am careful with my words. While I am careless with my tone.
I got this idea in my head, and I started turning it over a little at a time. I’m a patient motherfucker. I work with it. I open it up and examine it. I like to see what the insides of things are made of. I like to see those insides spill out, sometimes.
I got this idea in my head that I might start swimming the regular stream with the tadpoles and the water snakes. I got this idea in my head that living on the fringes wadn’t the way to go, and that I might be happier if I played the whole game a different way. Spiritually, I wasn’t on anything yet. It didn’t make no difference to me either way, how I saw it.
I am still made of ideas, motherfucker. The one I started with. The one I left home at sixteen with. The one I slept on Cedar Street with. The one I sat up in a Greensboro interrogation room with and answered every one of those goddamn questions about my roommate and about stolen guns with quotes from Heart of Darkness. A heart of darkness.
Some of them find beauty in literature. I saw revenge. I saw what Doc Holliday saw lying on the bed at the Hooker ranch, explaining the spiritual ins and outs of Johnny Ringo to his old buddy Wyatt Earp. I saw a balancing of scales, and justice. A heart of motherfucking darkness.
I took this new idea, this vision I had of my life, and I let it play out. I swallowed bars of xannies for ten-fifteen years while I worked my way up the corporate ladder. I needed the numbness just to sit there across the table from these skin suits and smile. I played in they waters. I snatched their words from the air and sung it back to em’. I made a pretty face. I developed a skin care routine.
I had two beautiful children. My life was blessed.
Do not, for one fucking second think I fell asleep in that grass. I’m still there today. This can go anyway you want it. Not up to me now. It’s not in my hands. I’m sitting here watching it unfold same as you.
I wasn’t born patient. Patience is a daily practice. When I was twenty years old, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write a novel, find some readers out there. What a motherfucking precious thing, am I right? Anybody can write a novel. Very frivolous thing to desire if I’m being honest with you. You can’t hardly trip without tumbling over four or five shitty novels – the literature of the lost, the lonely, the literature of the losers and the sorry sad sack shit signalers, imagining a whole world in their heads because they can’t do nothing to bend this one to their will.
Bitch, I’m Gumby.
To the man who wants to fuck my wife, please let it be known: this is not some regular motherfucker you are dealing with. I am emotionally volatile and outlandish. Sometimes my feelings get the best of me, and I sit back and let that other thing start driving the situation. That other piece of me. I trust that. Trust me: I trust that. Every spot I ever been in, every corner and every time I felt the wall with my back, every bare floor I laid on, I have calmly and quietly handed the keys off to that boy in the grass.
He came here with me. He sitting outside waiting for the signal. He doesn’t move like I move, even as he look exactly like I look. He don’t have no respect. He idn’t thinking of his kids, or that big house, that luscious lawn, that $100K. He idn’t thinking of nothing. I do the thinking for us. I do all the thinking.
I think it’s time we introduce some clarity to this situation.
Now don’t go mistaking my intimacy for permission. When I talk, you listen.
I sat there and watched a man leak out entirely in front of me and didn’t feel a goddamn thing. Reminded me of the deer or the cattle. Big, dumb animals.
I was scared once. I was a kid. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But sooner than later I realized I’m what’s happening. I left the fear there – back in that house, back in that town that don’t even exist no more. I gave it all to the kid. Soon as I tell him to stand up from that tall grass he gon move. And when he move, because he live with that fear and that memory all these years, I can’t do nothing about the way he move. It’s on/off. It’s yes/no. You unlock the door to my home you better accept what’s waiting for you on that other side. Might not be what you expect.
I am made of an anger you could not begin to fathom. Did you hide in the actual motherfucking closet to drown out the screams? I bet you didn’t. I bet you’re going to find out exactly what that does to a man. I’m not a motherfucking scared little kid anymore. I’m a grown ass man. But I keep that kid with me. I keep that kid with me. I don’t want you to confuse this with literature.
Allow me to speak a word or two further about that patience. I told you I wanted to be an author. I had literary dreams. Aspirations. But everything I churned out sounded lame, sounded like some other motherfucker’s thoughts. I waited. Published my first novel at 40, after I’d got that money, after I got that house, after I got that landscaping crew on retainer, after the birth of my son, after the birth of daughter, after I stopped drinking and started acting steady, after the snowbanks of New Hampshire, after the basement apartments, no windows, DC.
This is not literature. You happened to come up on aspects of my real life while my wife was struggling with some of hers. I promise you this is not literature. Soon as I decided to grab that 401(k) and that respectable smile and starched white shirts, I knew there wadn’t but only one industry I was prepared to enter. I surrounded myself with lawyers. Probably I knew a day like this day was going to come along. Probably I knew I would be fetching that kid waiting in that tall grass and after that it wadn’t up to me, and probably I knew I would need some different kind of coverage. You a grown ass man too. I promise you this is not literature. You seeing some aspect of my life you think you like, that you mighta took a shine to. I don’t blame you. It’s a beautiful life.
Watch what I’ll do to protect it.