It is the Summer of 2008, and I’m bored out of my mind. I’m at work, leaning against the counter, half out of exhaustion, the other half out of simply not giving a shit anymore. I’ve worked here three and a half years non-stop. No vacations, only one day off a week. I’m tired, and it’s finally starting to show. Taking a look at myself, I look like shit. Heavy bags under my eyes. Constantly grabbing my lower back in agony. Knees aching. Rough stubble on my face that has the consistency of sandpaper. Bloodshot eyes. The Works. And that was only my physical state.
Only two people notice any of this: the first being my closest friend in the world (at that time anyway), who was an older woman who treated me in a very motherly way, the other person being the first man I ever loved who didn’t love me back. Just by looking me in the eye, he knew more about me than I did. He knew, and he told me as such, that I was going to lose it. That at some point, I would feel the weight of the world crashing down upon me. I could have sworn that boy was psychic, because that was exactly what happened. By 2010, I was a bitter drunk, hiding myself from the sense of shame that came from selling myself out for popularity; my quest to become the next great music journalist was doomed from the start, and I should have known better.
But back in 2008, I’m leaning on this counter and chugging down some terrible energy drink that tastes like piss and probably shortened my life span by at least three years. Suddenly, the boy I’m crazy for looks me dead in the eye and says to me, “This job is killing you, I can see it plain as day! We need to get you out of here before then.” I just nod and give that half-hearted “yeah, yeah” answer when you don’t think somebody is being serious. “No, really,” he tells me, “I’m moving to Michigan in a month, and I think you should come with me. I think getting you somewhere new would be good for you.” Dang, he really was serious.
I didn’t know what the hell to think. On one hand, even if I knew full well I wasn’t going to get what I really wanted out of the deal (him), a fresh start in a new location was probably the best thing that could ever happen to me. One the other hand, I was young, didn’t have a whole lot of money and was just barely getting by, I had only left the state of Colorado one time when I was eighteen (some friends and I took a short road trip to Nebraska to buy fireworks), and there was no real guarantee that I was going to be successful there. I thought long and hard over the next few days before telling him no. Eventually, he left, got married and started a family. And eventually, I lost my damn mind.
In retrospect, it was probably for the best that I didn’t leave the state on a whim. But sometimes, when I’m feeling really down about life, I can’t help but think “What If?” Had I taken that risk, would I have ended up better off? What kind of life experiences would I have gained from it? What course would my life have taken? I guess it’ll just have to be a mystery.