“Notes on Moving Back to My Hometown at 26”

I was definitely listening to Throwing Muses pretty regularly, which is pretty depressing music by most accounts. Take a song like “Two Step” — the sense of loss and overbearing emotion is blistering, pathological stuff. Then Radiohead became my favorite band — “There, There” was my favorite song, and I’d make these best-of Radiohead mixes. Finally it all just wasn’t enough to get me through my every day, to keep my spirits up, around the boss’s son who sort of looked like Big Boy with an overly smooth, inquisitive face and his constant discussions of anal sex with his ex-wife, and I was forced by my own constitution to quit my job, whereupon I took a road trip down to my alma mater in Bloomington and explored the music library for books on Aeolian cadences.
I considered a move to Portland, but kept having dreams about dudes attacking me, unsavory thirty somethings rife with tattoos, and then other dreams about just wandering around with people glaring, nothing much going on, so I decided to stay, and get a job at a book warehouse. I still remember walking in and shooting the sh** with my new boss, things like saying the pizzeria “doesn’t exactly attract Rhodes scholars,” unknowingly at the time that at this new job they might as well just print on the job description: “You are the scum of the earth.”
One thing I enjoyed about it though was gaining some black slang. For instance, when this one black shelving clerk would get hot and find that all the fans had migrated to shipping, his response would be something like “On my mama why they need all those fans?” This dude was from Chicago, the west side, where they say they sound “country,” and believe it or not this white dude in South Bend actually correctly placed him as coming from West Chicago, an impression based purely on his accent.
I couldn’t make friends with him, or anything else. I’d been away for so long, and people no longer marveled at me: they saw things in me that they had in themselves already, anyways.
I did make one friend though, another dude who was into a lot of punk rock, and who loved cats. Specifically I remember him unleashing this great laugh even when my jokes weren’t funny: I was greatly thankful for that laugh he’d give.
This whole time, by now about 2011, I couldn’t be a teacher because I’d drunk and smoked pot in 2006. I’d tried a couple months earlier, applying again, only to respite in the bathroom right outside the office and look in the mirror, tears streaming down my face.


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