Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day five hundred and sixty ... If I could only.

I wonder.

I wonder what is going on at the pub down the street?

I can see--and have seen from day one or two--where all the folks from the production I'm in that like to party go after each show. The bars look perfect: dingy, dark, loud, relatively inexpensive, and close to the hotel. I don't go to them because it's not really my thing anymore, but I still kind of wonder what's going on.

I remember being in Ireland with the chorus a couple years ago, white knuckling the whole sober thing. You know, just kind of gritting my teeth and walking hard and fast--hands deeply thrust in pockets--back to the hotel in some sort of mock penance or demonstration that I could, indeed, not go out drinking--that I could just go back and go to sleep and get up in the morning and go do the show.

But that was no fun.

It was no fun because I really would have rather been at the bars, and probably should have considering how things turned out in the end anyway. I mean, did I really prove anything by spending my time on those tours "clean", only to come back and get busted? Not really. All I did was prove that I could make myself fall asleep by 3 a.m. or so after rolling around in bed for four hours. What a difference that made in the end.

So what's different now?

I'm still the same silly, self-conscious, slightly obnoxious, emotional, paranoid, lovable lad that I always was.

I still bring too many clothes on the road. I still swear too much. I still make inappropriate comments to anyone and everyone around me.

But I am different. And this change came from a choice. You all know what that was if you've read this far.

I am my own good time.

I am the party I always wanted to be invited to.

And no one--I mean no one--can possibly prove me wrong.

I don't have the pull of the debauched late night anymore because it finally put its last hard, debilitating hangover on me and I said "when" when I opened up my doors for business. I don't seek the release from hours of rounds of shots and beers and the eventual quest for harder things anymore because it invariably left me with an uncertain, vague and unfinished story that now holds only as much luster as the shiny glowing signs whose light once beckoned me in with their universal, iconic flash ever did. Since I opened up my own joint I don't need to put up ads or neon signs--I don't have to advertise. It's always full up in here. Business is truly booming.

There will always be people to keep my competitors afloat--to fill up the spaces in between the walls, kegs, and walk-ins. Our social strata and reward system, combined with our physiological and psychological response to a whole world of temptations, rituals, validations and releases will make quite sure of it.

Don't get me wrong. Much good has come my way over the years from the nightlife world that is run by the rum. I would always argue with my family that there is so much I would have never done sober. All the people I would have never met, places I would have never seen, jokes I would have never thought of, kisses I would have never attempted, and stories I would have never heard nor imparted are included under that umbrella. But what good it did for me always became rubbed into the cement with the heel of a hangover's boot in the end. And that hurts as bad as it sounds.

Those who know me know it's true; those who don't will just have to take my word for it.

But I made these decisions, and I am the one who will miss out on whatever I will miss out on outside of me. The truth is, I'll never know, because I'm not there ... I'm here. And here doesn't mean, necessarily, my hotel room as opposed to the tasty looking pub down the street. Here doesn't mean, necessarily, the tour bus back to the hotel as opposed to the after party.

No. Here just means wherever I am at any given moment--breathing, thinking, moving, feeling, speaking, singing, playing, tasting, touching, crying, laughing, spinning, dancing, shaking, jumping, laying, sleeping, snoring, waking.

And who's to say that the here I am enjoying is less of an amazing time than is happening right now down the street where I was just wondering what was going on?

Our world only exists from the farthest reaches one can observe with our overt senses, to the heart, mind, and soul of ones indeterminable insides. Sometimes that seems like from here to forever ... more likely it's only a millisecond away.

It's pointless, in the end, to even ask the question: where is the best place to be?

The ads will tell me I'm wrong if I stay home.

The bartenders will tell me the same from behind their registers.

The patrons would most definitely tell me I'm missing out on as much fun as they are having.

Some of my friends might even tell me I'm not living life to the fullest, if they weren't being so good about it.

But it only takes me to have an amazing time.

It only takes this one guy to feel like he is on top of the world--to know that he doesn't need anyone else's approval to shine.

It's just little me here with my little black laptop, on tour, in another part of the world, laying on my bed, eating a candy bar, talking with my girlfriend, playing with my photos, and trying to keep up with my writing.

And that's the kind of revelation that no amount of consciousness altering could possibly deduce.

And that's what they'll never truly tell you no matter who you ask, because nobody can really explain it fully.

Who is they?

Anybody who's not you.

Who are you?

You're that person who was once so many other people interested and involved in hundreds, if not thousands of things. And you learned to accept change. You learned to induce change. You changed without even knowing. Sometimes you only actually noticed you were different by looking back on it. And whether or not you realize it, you're different now than you were yesterday. It's what people do.

It's what people do.

We change.

We grow.

We learn.

Go ahead ... prove me wrong.

Thanks for reading.


PS: I'm having a fantastic time here in Manchester, England with the Young at Heart Chorus. You can check out my pictures and stuff at http://www.facebook.com/falexjohnson Stop by, say hi, give me a holler.

I'm easy.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day five hundred and fifty two ... Everything's relative.

The clock on my computer says 5:05 a.m..

The clock on my phone says it's just past midnight.

The clock inside my body says it's neither.

And the funny thing is, they're all correct.

I'm here, in Manchester, UK, on tour with the Young at Heart Chorus. I'm their guitar player, and they keep me working. It's a good gig--a very good gig. One that not just anybody can get. In fact, if I'm lucky, I'm the only one that can have this job at one time.

Outside my window cars have started to pick up their pace. There's a certain time in the night--I don't care where you are--that the cars just kind of stop coming and going like an abrupt break in a cohabitant's snore ... and then, as if by clockwork, the sound starts back up again and you can lay your head back down and forget you just wondered if everything was all right. There are exceptions, I suppose. Little pockets of highway where it's busy, busy, busy all day and night. But if you average it all out I think I am more right than wrong.

Back in Massachusetts there are people going out to meet friends at bars and coffee shops, perhaps catching a late night snack. The talk shows are in full swing and the movie channels have started to work blue.

Here, the sky is the only thing working blue. Breakfast isn't on downstairs yet, but it's not far off. I haven't turned on the television but I know what I'll find: news, soccer, dramatic presentations, and cheeky comedy. I'm not really in the mood for any of that at all.

I meant to stay up and go out and push the jet-lag as far as I could and then sleep for 8 hours. But after I successfully had a video chat with Jodi I was just about wiped out of any and all energy and laid down on the bed for a minute ... make that almost a thousand minutes. And here I am, awake, a little tired, a little refreshed, imparting how I feel here on this template.

I'm not going to whine about how I miss people, or the way things are back home. That kind of talk nobody wants to hear--even those who are involved in being the things that are missed. People enjoy being wanted, but being the reason someone wishes they weren't where they are isn't always desirable. It's needy. And once I found a reason to be here on this earth, and a person to express how I feel, my needs were fulfilled.

I don't have a concrete concept of money. This, I think, is good for the most part.

See, the last time I was in England I was a smoker and a drinker. I smoked more when I drank, but I smoked every day and I drank every night and so, I probably sucked down about 2 packs a day when I was here, all told, for two weeks. If I had to put a price tag on it, including all the nights out at the bars, I probably spent about $500 a week.

Now, I don't do either. What I do like is using my computer. At the hotel I'm staying at they charge ten British Pounds per 24 hour period, which is about 16 US dollars. Back home I pay 40 US dollars for a month of 24 hour periods, and my phone works there too. But I'm here, I don't smoke, I don't drink, I'm getting paid well and, as I said, I like to use my computer, so I don't have a problem giving them what they want to get what I want. And that works out to about $112 a week.

I could complain that I shouldn't have to pay that, but who the hell am I? Some places I get it free, some places I don't. But I forget all about the places I got it for free because things that come easy don't make our brains work so hard. It's kind of like waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. If you don't put the lights on and just do what you need to do you can more than likely fall back to sleep without much of a problem. You traded a break in one necessary activity to engage in another. But if you're not careful and check your email or go open the fridge to get a snack you've just spun the gears a few too many times and it won't be so easy to slip back into that current of somnolence.

So I just keep moving forward and do what makes my life productive and try not to complain and ...

Well, I really just got up to use the bathroom and now look at what time it is (5:49 a.m.) ... so I'll try to get back to sleep and post some more in a few hours.

That's our show for tonight folks ... thanks for tuning in ... and, of course ...

... thanks for reading,