Watch the leaves fall outside and think of the place you grew up, wish there was more time to make leaf piles and miss arguing over who got to take the first jump. Know that no matter how many people live in the place you grew up in, they could never recreate the way Christmas morning smelled and see the way the backyard was a big jungle during the summer when we were Kings. Go to your closet and pull out a box of your things, sort them into piles of things you’ll miss a lot and things you won’t miss so much, throw the former in a big black trash bag. Pace around your tiny apartment, think of all the living done in these walls, listen to your neighbors breathing upstairs and feel sad that you never got to share the bonding experience of banging on the walls and yelling at them to turn their damn music down. Consider turning your music up. Don’t.
Feeling nostalgic over everything. Instead of getting excited over Halloween decorations think about how they mark the arrival of the month you’ve been waiting for and picture all the scarecrows and fake spiders and ghouls waving you goodbye. Find your old love letters and think about throwing them away but instead keep them in your pile of things to take. Think about all the love that once slowly grew like tiny cobwebs in the corner of a room, expanding bigger and bigger until someone took a broom and knocked them down so they could hang up cheesy birthday decorations. Take the pictures down of your family and put them in your memory box, spill the items out of your little golden memory bag into your palm and feel them, see if you can experience the moments all over again. Give up and put them back.
Think about the times you danced in the street in the tiny town you thought you would never leave. The times he held your hair back when you found out what a Screwdriver was. The time when you got into a car wreck and your friends told you you had zombie skin and you made fried potatoes, got drunk, pushed each other around in a wheel chair and bought cool hats. How the first time you got a tattoo you were laying on a floor in the middle of summer with your shirt off in a town you had never been in before with people you barely knew. Think about your first drunk, messy time camping with a girl with a cupcake tattoo who could chug beer like a champ. Remember every time you sat in the broken down ambulance and how it felt when you came back years later and stared at the spot where it used to be, like you never really realized how much things had changed until something so constant ceased to exist.
Remember the time you accidentally went to a St. Patrick’s Day party in the middle of November and ended up huddled in a basement with a dozen strangers wearing green, how you were dressed in all black because it was winter which meant you were mourning something you couldn’t take the time to remember yet. Miss the time you held her up in her kitchen when she had too many beers. Think about the first boy you ever loved and the first time he kissed you in the street that her house lies on, on the corner between the abandoned shops and the church you threw rocks at. Think about the first time you saw him he was jumping off of a red train to tackle you and how the last time you saw him he was getting drunk at two pm. He didn’t see you. You left. Wonder if that is the last time you’ll ever be in the same room. Miss the way the city you swore you hate felt to you on the rare moments you were free, letting yourself forget about all the missed calls from your mom tucked away in your back pocket and instead leaning out the window, breathing in the air.
Feel the scar on your hip but nothing in your heart; think about all the places you have lived, the mattress on the floor, the back party room, the hospital with the scratch marks on the ceiling with a roommate that called you “Pooh Bear” because of your blonde, fried hair. His chest, the crook of her arm, the top bunk of her bunk bed in the winter in her doll house, the hospital bed and the tiny room you and your roommate shared until they separated you for sleeping underneath the beds. Think about your old best friend’s bed in the summer and relive how the whole house seemed to shake every time the train rolled by and taste the cigarettes in your mouth again, hear Third Eye Blind blaring out of the speakers. Throw away the jeans you used to write on, leave your paintings on the wall. Think about the first memory you have of arriving here, waking up on a mattress in the middle of an empty room with a fan on you. Rethink everything again, smoke another cigarette, feel sick and throw it away, hold your breath, bide your time, close your bank account, count your money, throw away your bottles of alcohol. Wonder how you have made it this far. Wonder how much father you will go.
Get on the bus. Leave. Do not look back.