Killing An Arab

What started as a list of pros and cons that David suggested I write has somehow turned into a stark realization about the origin of my work.  We’ve talked about David before, if you’ve been here for a minute– and the list was meant to be about a lover of mine. We both know the lover is all cons, save for a couple of no-brainer pros: Young and Beautiful. But just a few lines in, I realized that David had struck gold with his plan of making the writer write it out, a seemingly arduous and pointless task just to think of. I want to argue with him right away, always, at his many suggestions.  I reiterate that I obviously know all of the cons, so how is staring at it penned out in front of me anything less than an act of masochism? Fresh ink for a fresh perspective on my Fresh Hell (David’s new favorite expression, usually spoken in the context of, “What kind of fresh hell is this?” Applicable to almost every situation.) Now,  I don’t think this is what he was going for, but here’s what I came up with:

freshhell-1.jpg

Then I remembered the John Waters quote: “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!”

 

I read sometime later in life that he claims that’s not exactly what he meant, or said, or something like that. Basically, I’m pretty sure he ended up fucking his fair share of book-haters just like the rest of us and, well, there’s always some room for justification. You can fuck ’em, sure, but don’t mean it too much. I’ve definitely bedded some people I never should have because of our kindred compulsion to read, and I’ve definitely let the book-worm off the hook when blinded by the beauty of a great ass that’s attached to an adventurous spirit.

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johnwaters
With John Waters…’99? 2000? I MISS Tower Records and Books!

 

I’ve learned quite a few things along the way. Average people are not avid readers, at least not by design. It’s possible that school, work, or a partner may force them to read. But left to their own devices, they’re happy collectively contributing to the eventual spinal degradation of mankind  by staring down at their phones all day rather than lying on a beach with their face toward the sky and nothing but life-changing verse between them and the clouds. Contentedness can be found in mediocrity– which is fine– and I mean, for real, what the fuck is that really like? Because it’s seemed vastly appealing to me at different stages of my life. But when the need to explore beyond your physical limitations isn’t present, then I wholeheartedly agree, you genuinely have no use for books.

My love of books has landed me on a perfect left in Chicama, Peru. It’s led me head-on into tumultuous relationships, fueled my drug use, mended my broken hearts, introduced me to obscure geniuses, injected me with courage where caution could’ve intervened and ruined the whole damn thing, never left me feeling empty, and always has me wanting for more. It’s something I simply cannot live without.

This isn’t to say that someone who can’t tear themselves away from the written word is superior in form. Honestly, most of us are fucking alcoholics- perhaps not presently, but it’s in there somewhere I promise, you just have to dig a little (or buy us a drink). And if we’re not alcoholics, we’re quite fanatically sober, like teetotaler sober to the gills. But do I think that we are left better than before for having spent the day buried in words rather than in apps and other people’s lives? Yes. Do I think that we are better for writing books? Yes. Do I think that we are crazy for writing books? Hell Yes.

 

I’ve begun to wonder when I became a lover words, or more specifically, a writer of them. Is it like sexuality or genetics? Was I born yearning for the alphabet the same way that I was born queer, white, or with female parts? Was it the fact that what I was thirsty for growing up wasn’t ready available by any mainstream means, leaving me no option but to seek alternative press?

 

I think, like the photographs I take, that I have an image- a moving one in my head, that is steeped in explanation and attached to a feeling that I remember well. I think it’s when I knew who and what I was, precisely and figuratively, for the first time in my life. It was the day that I intentionally rode my bicycle into a towering wooden fence at full speed and also the day I had my first kiss.

 

I remember wanting to go fast, as fast as I possibly could. And I knew that the brakes didn’t work. Maybe we were too poor, or maybe we did have other working bikes, but I wanted that one. I wanted to feel the crash. I started at the top of my development in rural Pennsylvania. It was full of replicated, split-level town houses. The grass was always green and perfect in every season. I didn’t skateboard yet but I know that the streets were made for it. My crash was planned just like the houses were. My crash was planned because of the houses. I just yearned to feel something Different.  I lifted my feet off of the ground and began to soar down the hill. There was a blind turn and the possibility of a car coming up as I was going down didn’t bother me. When I made the turn the fence came into view. On the other side of it lived twins that I played in treehouses with. They were privileged and beautiful, not like me at all, but I liked them anyway. I wondered if they were in the trees and if they could see me coming. I wondered if they did, would they yell for me to stop?

 

The neighbors looked alarmed as I gained speed. I saw it on their faces and so I waved at them and turned my mouth into a huge, toothy smile.  I stretched my legs out in front of me when I neared the fence. Everything buckled, my knees, the tire, my face. I know I hit my forehead full force against the wooden planks.  I also know that I simply brushed myself off and walked away. The adults were stunned and some of the kids cheered. I actually wanted to do it again, like I knew I could take it. If I did that now, I’d end up in a fucking wheelchair and that just isn’t fair. I’d trade 2019 for 1990 in a heartbeat, collisions and all.

 

I was invited to a party after that (as in, I crashed the bike and then walked straight into a party) where I met a Gleaming the Cube looking boy called Dylan. The party was in a basement. We all had finished basements, something I miss living in California. There were other kids, but even though it was my own neighborhood, I felt like I didn’t recognize any of them– including Dylan. He looked about sixteen and I was maybe twelve or thirteen….maybe younger. I’m never great with remembering those types of details. I only know that once I was young– until I wasn’t anymore– the end. He wanted to do more than kiss me. I still remember him trying to reason with me, a child, about having sex. In the end, I didn’t do it for another few years, not boy-sex anyway. But we kissed, or touched mouths, or whatever it is that completely inexperienced humans, including one with a probable concussion, do at those ages.

 

Then I went home. I never saw him again.

 

I walked the bike with its sagging chain and bent rim back up the hill. When I got home and looked at my Dad, I felt like I had done something wrong– not the bike part– the other part. (I don’t recall anyone reacting to the damage I’d done to myself or the bike, to be honest) I felt, for the first time, that I’d done something that I couldn’t tell him about. It was a sad feeling mostly, a sort of exodus of my innocence. I always thought that it would be more glaring than that, looking back, that is– that my moment of emersion into things more adult-like would’ve been easily pin-pointed by something like the first time I did street drugs or lost my virginity. But it wasn’t. It was when I could no longer tell my Dad everything. I don’t even like thinking about it now. It’s one of the saddest things that I remember too clearly.

 

I don’t think that it’s coincidental that my first kiss coincided with a violent crash and the beginnings of finding my voice. I think that it was eerily predictive of my romantic choices and what was to come (at me) on all fronts in life. I feel, had I not just brushed myself off and walked away, I may have adopted a very different way of dealing with things in life, perhaps developed into an entirely different person. I’m glad that didn’t happen. The world inside my room felt different after that. My desk felt small and my pen, poignant. The world was changed because I now had a feeling to write about, to write from. I was no longer spewing adolescent angst, unoriginal in all its rage. I had just felt physical pain, lust, satisfaction, and sadness. I had my own content, and in that moment  I became a writer. And from that moment forward, I’ve never been without books, and always more than I could possibly ever even read. They are the most valuable currency to me, because without them I am poor in every way.

 

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It was hard to pick a song to attach to this post simply because there are so many great punk songs in particular, that have been inspired by books, that I just love. I went with “Killing An Arab” off of The Cure’s debut Album because of its cult status of being one of the most misinterpreted song titles of all time. It was inspired by Albert Camus’s The Stranger and is a literal reference to the actions of the book’s protagonist, Meursault. I won’t get into the politics that have plagued the song since, but I will say that I love Camus and The Cure nearly equally. Enjoy this link: Killing An Arab

 

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Also, if you’d like something nice to look at, visit my photography website by clicking this link   stivphoto

As always, thanks for visiting and thank you for Reading!

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