East Oakland Ave.

I can’t remember the last time that I’ve actually enjoyed going to the bank.

Most of this, I’m sure, is tied up in the fact that, up until recently, I’d always been near broke. Twenty bucks here, twenty bucks there; stretch your dollar and skate on dimes. I learned the bare essentials are all you need: air, food, and some booze. You adjust quickly and relearning personal finance becomes a fun game; discovering all that shit you didn’t need. There’s a pride in it, when you cut out the fluff. You return to your roots, reconnecting with a primal part of your being, you're stronger than you thought; you're a hunter. You scavenge and feast while you can, alive in a way that safety doesn’t excite.  

Being broke, it’s a term I’ve silently resented, but is something I’ve grown to respect. You develop an appreciation for the subtle gifts in your life, which were drowned out so long by the things you used to crave. The things you thought you needed to be happy. Instead, you derive much greater significance from what’s real. You’re no longer living in fantasy; a delusional reality. That apple becomes sweeter. That woman is more beautiful. You realize that nothing in your life is disposable, especially your time, so your conscious mind sharpens onto the now. The breadth of your anxieties shrinks and you’re able to experience the gift of being present, so fucking deeply. You’re not worried about retirement, or benefits. You don’t even give a shit what people think of you, because you see it all as choice. Instead of feeling shame in yourself, you choose to dance naked. When it’s all said and done, you know that the emperor doesn’t have clothes either.

That new found sense of empowerment won’t get you to work on time, so I guess you’ll leave earlier and walk. It isn’t the worst thing; being unable to afford a car. Groceries, or a tank of gas. When there’s no choice, everything evens out.  

Don’t see that as a let down though, you really get to know your city. It becomes this living thing, not just slabs of concrete. You’re part of the orchestration. Each street has a personality. All of them talk to you in their own accent, like an understanding friend, and you talk back; walking the alleys alone, the hum of streetlights following you. You could have but a single friend and the city will always make time, any hour of the day; it’s your family.

It’s what I learned. During those years, which aren’t too far off. There was a crisp freshness to life. That newfound freedom of college, which is giving way to the routine and repetition of adulthood. Things just seem to echo and sometimes I’m scared, because the way I run from it is slowing; it’ll catch me one day too, like it does all Peter Pans. A wife, maybe some kids, a career.

The burning desires slowly subside; you’re ok.

Despite all the dysfunction, and years of depression, I really do miss the intensity of it all. The deep moments of despair, those deeper moments of clarity. I really woke up to myself for the first time there, on the streets of Columbus. I miss her, but I won’t be back.