Aging ‘Rocker’ Laments Lost Youth; Film at 11.

There’s still some living left when your prime comes and goes. – “Big Casino,” Jimmy Eat World

In some ways it’s both harder and easier to be brave when you’re older.  Some of that petty stuff doesn’t matter quite as much, sure.  And you’re supposed to be more comfortable in your own skin.  There are those who won’t ever quite fit right in these fleshy pants. So, while it gets easier certainly, being an awkward adult has challenges separate from awkwardness that is allowed to you as part of growing up.  Oh, to live in those heady days where there was an excuse to be made.  “It’s an awkward phase…”

I wouldn’t advise it, but for better or worse I have lived on the fringes of my own design.  I would certainly never claim to be punk rock. Always a kid from the suburbs. Sorta proud of that. I’ve always felt a bit out of place.  That old Piersons trope always spoke to me: “too pussy for punks, too punk for pussies.” But I loved music and desperately wanted to be cool. I could never pull it off.

Last night driving into a layered pink sunset (those which we are blessedly accustomed to here), I thought of the other sunsets I’ve chased. I thought of the artist, the bone pope and days when possibilities were expansive as the rows of crops on the Iowa horizon. There was just possibility in the air much more frequently.  Sure, it was about roadtrips and bands and having fun but it always seemed to be about so much more — about chasing some aesthetic, “living the way you want,” rock and roll rules, and all of these other silly ideals.  Not that this was a spoken thing but we knew where we were headed.

Stay between the white lines

follow them home

There was some persistent excitement, even when I was at home on winter nights with snow falling in that damn picturesque way when its caught in the street lights before it evaporates on the asphalt.  It was all Boone’s Farm and poetry, music and all of that other stuff you have time for in your 20s.

Last night, I found myself standing in a very familiar place. Waiting in line for a a band.  I’m surrounded by girls in their 20s and I feel a bit self-conscious.  It’s silly. I’m listening to their conversations and wondering if I ever sounded like that.  One girl tells another about the lengths she’s gone to see a band and how long she waited in line and how close she was to the stage. How she felt out of place in her flannel.  I liked her.

This whole age thing sneaks up on you.  I think the part that is the most unsettling is you are able to look around, with a clear head and see the value that people much younger than you are bringing to the world while you are, predictably, taking the safe route that most of us seem to end up taking.  It’s just that some don’t go quietly in into that good night along the way.

I didn’t fight it as hard as some people, because I knew in my heart that it wasn’t my place. I have wanted to be “cool” — to push boundaries, but it just isn’t me. I’m still not comfortable with that one. I still wish I could create and pester and push limits. But unfortunately, I know mine.  It doesn’t stop me from looking back and wondering though if I could have. It seems the idealism of youth is more of an embarrassment of old age.

But still…in between the domestic trifles and the drudgery of work, I have these moments. Usually brought on by a song, a movie, the sky, even  TV show…where the inexplicable, all-encompassing wave comes over me.  Just this intense feeling or emotion that I don’t know what to do with.  I wish I could explain it. I suppose it feels like love and drugs. ( but Mark and I used to call it feeling “there.”  Just lost in a perfect moment of absolute overwhelming emotion because of some piece of ART that “someone” created.

It is in these times I wish I could do what that artist did — create something that made someone feel that way.

So, there’s still time until time runs out. I may never be any more than I am right now: a bit slovenly, manic and useless; shiftless when idle; a “quiet achiever” (as I’m told in report cards from my youth and work performance evaluations).  But I hope I can be more.

Thank god for the miscreants and poets, drunks and saints, the scholars and scumbags who make me feel that way.

For now…down, down, down with middle class life.

Postscript: And another thing…it is the biggest load of crap that kids today are spoiled and entitled.  They didn’t grow up with the shadow of The Depression.  Can we be happy about that?  They also didn’t grow up working the land.  So what? Neither did a good portion of the fine city living folks in their 40s now  There are young people out there breaking down the entire known system…any system. Entertainment, science, technology, business.  I know that people out there see the worst – hell, even I do working at  a university, but there is amazing shit happening because young people today are fearless in ways that both serve as detriment and catalyst. Can we give them a break?



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