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Twisting all the bad things into good

Jan 9, 2012

The Nitty Gritty, 33: Giving Up the Ghosts

I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, 
some stranger, 
and my whole life was a haunted life,
the life of a ghost. 
Jack Kerouac, On the Road

WEDNESDAY. SEPTEMBER 7th, 2010 (Between 11:30 & 11:59PM)

            It is almost midnight.
            The nurse said the medication was going to help me sleep. That was hours ago. It's going to be another sleepless night. Instead of dreaming, I will be obsessing over every mistake I have ever made.

            I can't even remember the last time I had a dream. Even before the insomnia, I had not had a dream in years. The more pills I would take, the less dreams I would have. After awhile, I stopped dreaming. If I did have any dreams, I couldn't remember them. They were always forgotten by the time I opened my eyes.
            I miss having dreams. An eternity of dreaming would be Heaven to me. There is nothing in life that I enjoy more than a good dream. It doesn't have to be about flying. It doesn't need to be that one with Courtney Cox. It's been at least 5 years since the Friends star made her "fancy guest" appearance at my apartment wanting to do more than obsessively clean my apartment and rearrange my cd's. As amazing and convincing as her "acting" was, I would recast my co-star with a current favorite actress, most likely the one who played the ghost of Leo's dead wife in Inception. Oh my God, how I would love for her to haunt the hell out of me forever..and ever. Amen.

            I pray that I would not be spending eternity pondering the meaning of my many recurring dreams that have haunted me in both my sleep and my waking life. I think the one about my tooth falling out has something to do with vanity. I would also prefer not to spend eternity throwing the most powerless sucker punches ever thrown by the kind of man who dreams about sex with actresses. Maybe those weak punches have something to do with lacking strength enough to make changes in my life.
            It may have something to do with Adam and Eve dropping the ball in the garden, but I have never been a fan of snakes, so I could do without being surrounded by them in the afterlife. I once read that my snake dreams are common with highly creative people and those who have a stronger than usual sense of consciousness. I like that interpretation, but I can't argue with the theory of snakes symbolizing hidden fears or as warnings of bad things about to happen. Someone who reads it this way will not be able to find any kind of hope. To them, this is nothing more than a nightmare.

            This does not have to be a nightmare. This does not have to be all about fear and impending doom. A snake does have one enviable quality. A snake can shed it's old skin. This may actually be all about transformation and healing. Maybe there is some kind of hope to be found in what once seemed a nightmare.

            There is also the dream that always begins as a nightmare.

            I'm about to die.
            There is the feeling of fear that comes along with knowing it is all about to come to an end. Just when I think that it is all over, I realize that I am not really dying. This is only a movie. I am just an actor. A damn good actor. I even have myself convinced that my life will be over very soon. Cut to the next scene. I am watching myself die in this movie. I am sitting in the audience with a girl I have never met in real life. She has her arms wrapped as tightly as possible around one of mine. As many times as I have found myself with this same dream girl watching this same movie in this same theater, I still don't know who she is. I don't know her name. I have never seen her face. I never took the time to look. I am too consumed with my own performance. I am too selfish to realize that any moment that I miss of my own movie could never be better than this moment I am sharing with her. Her only fear in our brief time together is not being able to see what happens next. That is the only reason why she is able to keep to a whisper what she really wants to shout out. Even at a whisper, I can hear how overwhelmed she is with happiness and how proud she is. She doesn't say much. She doesn't have to.
            In my ear, she repeats the same thing over and over.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            It's the only thing I have ever heard her say.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            It's the greatest thing I've ever heard anyone say.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            No matter how many times, it always makes me smile.
            "Baby, you are going to be a movie star".
            I never get tired of hearing those words, and she knows it.
            Baby. You. Are. Going. To. Be. A. Movie. Star.
            As many times as she repeats those eight words, I never say one. I never take my eyes off the screen. Just once, I wish I would turn to see her face. I would really like to know who this girl is before the dream is over.
            Even though it starts with me dying, it is far from a nightmare in the end. It may be a sad dream, but it is still a good dream. I never knew what it meant before. I think I do now. I think I just figured it out.

If dreams are like movies
then memories are films about ghosts.
Counting Crows, Mrs. Potter's Lullaby

            That sad dream always reminded me of a kid I knew a long time ago. This kid had himself convinced that his life was a movie.

            This was not just another movie.
            This was nothing less than an epic.
            He was not just the leading man.
            He was the hero.
            Not just some actor.
            A movie star.
            His movie was not supposed to be like this.
            His life was not supposed to be like this.
            It was not supposed  to take this long for the meds to work.
            It was lights out at 10 o'clock. That was almost 2 hours ago.
            He was lights out at 10 years old. That was almost 25 years ago.
            A Black Belt, a marathon, a track star, and an A student.
            Not just a good kid. A great kid.
            He was not supposed to be like this. He was supposed to be great.
            "Someday, people will say "I went to school with that guy!"
            I wonder what they say about that guy now.
            I don't want to know.
            "You were the kid who was gonna pull the sword from the stone.
            What happened to you?"
            I don't have to wonder why he asked him that.
            I know why. I knew that kid better than anybody.
            That kid could have done anything. He could have been anything.
            Instead, that kid did nothing. He became nothing.
            This kid did not become just some actor.
            This kid is not the leading man in some epic movie.
            This kid is nobody's hero.
            This kid is nobody.
            He never became a movie star.
            He never became anything.
            He became nothing.
            He is nothing.
            He is me.

            There is a movie that plays above me. It is a film from the late 70's called Days of Heaven. It is being projected onto the ceiling above my temporary bed. I begin to watch it because the medication has not begun to make me sleepy. Over the years, I've never seen more than few minutes of this beautiful, yet tragic film that some call a masterpiece. I know enough about the story to recognize that this version I am seeing above me is completely different from what I have seen in the past. Despite different actors and a different plot, I still somehow recognize it is Days of Heaven. Both versions take place  in the Mid West during the late 1800's. In this version, 2 friends and business partners are making their way west. Along the way, they stop to help develop a small town. They recognize the untapped potential  and then transform it into something better than it is now. When they can do no more, they move on to a new place
             As CEO, I realize that  this is the same thing our "fucking company" does. I need to tell Jeff about this. This is us. He has to see this.
            This is "our" movie.
            We first need to discuss the future of the "fucking company". Despite today's confusion, Jeff assures me that nothing has changed. He tells me that he had nothing to do with me being where I am. It was all my parents doing.
            I begin telling him about Days of Heaven. 'Dude, you gotta see this. This is totally "our" movie. These 2 guys do exactly what we do. This is totally us".
             Jeff  reminds me that it's almost midnight. He tells me to get some some sleep because we have a board meeting in the morning. It is the signing of the deal, and if I don't give a good presentation, it won't happen. They got me drugged up over here, so I don't know how sharp I'm gonna be. I don't even know if I can get out of here tomorrow morning. The lady mentioned something about being here for 72 hours. Once I explain everything to the doctors, they will see that I am clearly not crazy. They will realize that I do not belong here and then they should just let me go. Just in case, I ask Jeff if he can do the presentation. Jeff makes it clear that is not an option. 'I can't do it. You're the CEO, bro. We need you". I tell him with confidence, "I'll be there. I won't let you down. I'll be ready". Jeff sounds convinced.
            "Listen", I tell him,"I just want to say that I'm sorry I yelled "Fuck you" at you earlier. I thought you were the one who called the cops". I try to hold back my emotions. "And I wanted to say thanks for not cutting me out of the partnership. It's the only thing I have left". Jeff says,"Of course. You're the CEO. We need our CEO".
            I say, "Thanks. You're a good friend. You're the best friend I've ever had. Thanks for helping me to start turning my life around". I wipe my eyes with the back of my wrist. Jeff tells me everything is going to be fine once I get out of here. He reminds me to be ready for the "big morning" I have ahead of me and that tomorrow is going to be the beginning of something great. "Hey", he says. "I wanna hear all about "our" movie tomorrow, so when it's over, get some sleep, bub".
            I look above and I know that there is not much left.
            "It's almost over".
            I can't help but smile to at least know I still have my best friend. "I'm gonna try to get some sleep. I love ya, bro", I tell him. "Yeah. Love you too, bro. Now get some sleep", he demands. I laugh and say, "Hey, that's no way to talk to your CEO. I'll talk to you in the morning".
            As our call ends, I look up and I see nothing.
            Our movie has just ended.

            I want things to go well tomorrow. Despite everything, I think it will. In a way, I have always got what I wanted. It never comes in a way I could have ever expected. On Sunday, I had been on my hands and knees, crying in the shower. I was willing to sell my worthless soul. I swore that I would give up everything I had, as little as that may be, if it meant having my father be alive. I got what I wanted. I could have never imagined it happening in this way.
            I hope my parents still love me.
            I hope my friends don't hate me.
            I hope things things will start to get better tomorrow.
            I hope they will have pancakes tomorrow morning.
            Some pancakes would be nice.
            Maybe they will have some answers tomorrow morning.
            Some answers would be nice.
            Pancakes and answers.
            The medication is finally kicking in.
            Some breakfast and then some answers from the doctors.
            "Tonight, just try to relax", she said. "Just try to get some sleep".
            I may actually get some sleep.
            Some sleep would be nice.
            A new life would be nicer.
            A chance to be a leading man.
            In a sequel.
            In another life.
            Another version with different actors.
            A different story.
            What's the story with this medication?
            I can feel myself getting ready to fade out.
            My epic is about to fade to black.               
            This is the part in my movie when my eyes won't stay open.
            I can look away.
            I can miss this moment.
            I can sleep through my own ending.
            Don't wake me when it's over.
            Please, let me sleep.
            It's been so song since I had a good night's sleep.
            Please, let me dream.
            It's been too long since I had a good dream.
            Some dreams would be nice.
            Let me dream that I am someone who is not me.
            A dream about someone better than me.
            A dream about someone I used to be.
            A dream...
            ...about a good kid.

             A good dream...

            ... about a movie star.

                      Jimmy Mac

1 comment:

  1. I always feel the same way as you do in a lot of your writing and get mesmerized by your words (You really are talented my friend), except I think I was lights out more at 24, maybe 21 after college not 10. I definitely, since I was born, live my life like I am the star of my own movie and that my life is a movie. And all my friends and family have co-starring roles, then there are guest roles in my life and even extras in who walk by me in the streets. I always felt that way. Ok, but I am a lil perplexed by the Jeff part? Was that all true or a dream or a hallucination by meds? I can guess what was going on in the storyline if true and why you may of went to a hospital or ward type place and was on meds. But Did you two really have a company together that you were CEO of or was this all in your mind kinda hallucinated by meds? And if so, is this present day or in FL before you left or way back when in FL. Just curious, because that's something I didn't know about. You better read this and let me know! Lov ya, Leslie