Dispatches from the Suburbs of Hell

Heaven is for the obedient. Hell is for the wrathful. What of the ones in between? We wind up in the Suburbs. Our sin is individuality. Our punishment is boredom. But at least we're in good company.

Location: New England, United States

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ashes and Dust

"Life is what happens while you're making other plans." - Some Stupid Hippie

This weekend I celebrated my 33rd birthday. Well, I marked the occasion, at least; didn't much feel like celebrating. So much is becoming clear to me as I get older, as my hair goes gray and my waistline expands, as my body starts to betray me in a dozen little ways. I never gave much thought to it when I was younger. Where I was going to be by now. But it wasn't where I am now. I don't know where the years went. I don't know where *I* went.

I had hopes and dreams once. I guess everyone does. I guess every man dreams of changing the world when he's young. I wanted badly to be a writer. I had delusions of Kurt Vonnegut for so long. But I've been struggling with this second novel for three years now. I'm almost finished...for whatever that's worth. Nothing to show for it but a dozen rejection letters and the grim realization that no one is interested in reading what I write. There's just no market for it, I guess. I gave up any real hope of ever being published a while ago, and lately my heart just hasn't been in it. After ten years of laboring under the delusion that I was a writer with a day job, it turns out I'm a accountant with a hobby.

I wanted so badly to live a remarkable life. To live in a trendy part of town, to hang out with intelligent, creative people. To live in a world of energy and bright colors and art and music. Probably an unrealistic dream, but it was a nice one to entertain. That maybe someday, I could get out of this crumbling blue-color suburb and become something else. Over the weekend that dream popped like a soap bubble. That part of my life is over. The time when I could have fit into that world has passed. And this little apartment in this seedy neighborhood is now HOME. I never got to live a remarkable life. And I spent so much time hoping and planning for that that I forgot to even live a normal life. Don't even have that now.

Maybe I was never meant to live a remarkable life. All the great men in history had achieved their greatest achievements by the time they were my age. Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25. Michelangelo had sculpted David at 27. Alexander had conquered the known world at 29. So far, my greatest achievement has been paying off my student loan. And I suppose it's my fault. I got distracted with life's many issues and I neglected my work. I neglected my Muse, and she finally abandoned me.

One thing recent life experience has taught is that sometimes it's better to leave well enough alone. Because things can ALWAYS get worse. Some days I just can't bear to come home, because I'm so bored and fed up with this tiny apartment, and this cold rickety building, and my loud neighbors, and the stoner hoodlums down the street that make me afraid to park my car nearby. And I just want to pick up and move, go somewhere else, get a fresh start, because the thought of spending ANOTHER YEAR HERE makes me want to slit my own throat. But change is not always good. There could be an even worse situation waiting for me somewhere, that I could just stumble into and not be able to get out of. Besides...maybe it's too late. Maybe I've been here too long to live anywhere else. Maybe I'm too old to just start over. Maybe this is it. Maybe this is all I'm going to get out of life, and the only thing I can do is learn to live with it.

I don't know any more. I do know, though, that I had a vision of myself becoming someone else. And that vision is gone. It probably never  could have been at all. And I don't know what I'm going to replace it with.