CALEB JOSEPH WARNER
I have been told by most of my older siblings at this point that what I am feeling is entirely normal and this comforts me. I feel completely lost in my twenties, feeling my way in the dark, not knowing where or what I am going to do. And that’s just fine with me.
I do, however, know what I should be doing and that is doing stuff. I am going to start just doing stuff to see what sticks. I am going to do whatever I want as long as I feel that it’s useful. Now is the time for making mistakes and for making something to look back and say, “Well, at least I tried.”
For the past month, I have been on the road. The first week I spent in Michigan right on the chill lake two hours from Chicago in an old house with no air conditioning. The next week, we drove back to Illinois and watched movies in the air conditioned basement renovated with devotion from my parents who if I may be so bold are entering a season where they might feel as confused as I am.
From there, I drove down with my two beloved sisters and my niece and nephew to Baton Rouge. The French called this place when they first paddled down the Mississippi, “the place of the red-hot hot dog.” We were in the car for eighteen hours, I believe, and broke up our trip by stopping at a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee in order to burn popcorn in their microwave. We managed to guide the smoke gently away from the flashing smoke detector. I flew out of New Orleans a week later to the high city of Denver, Colorado where I spent my time with my brother and sister-in-law wondering how we could more further eviscerate a comedy act which was so unfunny it didn’t even amuse us.
Yesterday, I flew from Denver to Spokane and I knew that I was on the right flight, because everyone around me was gross. The couple I sat next to had it in their hearts to get sloshy—on a Frontier flight. They purchased two adult beverage bundles, which included two adult beverages and a mixer each. In addition to these purchases, the couple asked of the flight attendant that they might have a can of Pringles and a thin slice of beef jerky and assuredly they were not turned away.
The man said to me, “Behold my wine tastes of cream cheese.”
And I, sipping on my I’m-not-anxious-gin-and-tonic said incredulously, “Assuredly, it does?”
And he said, “Aye, it be a cream cheese wine my homie.”
So in our reverie, he and I encountered the mysteries contained within the wine and assuredly, I be playing not, I said, “You’re a downright sommelier!”
But when I said it, I feared that I perhaps had mispronounced the word and feared that he might think ill of me and my trucker hat and button down shirt—but lo! I remembered that I was on a flight to Spokane and that across from us there were three stoners cussing their enthusiasm concerning the Burning Man this year and how, “Every year, the cops are in cahoots with the festival, there’s nothing to worry about.”
Indeed there is nothing to worry about whatsoever these days. Nothing at all. The world is not falling apart, Joan Baez is still alive and thankfully Hitler is dead (what a relief) and we’ve come to terms with gluten-free trends and friends are getting married and family is having kids and the fabric of society has been torn so many times that there’s nothing left to tear and Cher still has a gorgeous smile and lives in El Centro, California and is 5’9″ tall and her children are Chaz Bono and probably someone else who struggles with chastity.
Meanwhile, we have gotten away with a depreciation of ambition for so long that we find ourselves bored. It is time to refuel those tanks. So what have we chosen to do? Why, write a serial online novel of course. The author says that it is not a serious affair, that it will be a light little fling, but can he manage that? Can he manage how hard it will be to not care too much? But frankly, we are worn down and weary by caring about the wrong things.
We care about word choice when the sentence is unwritten and we care about what others think when there is no one even watching and we tinker with unfinished projects and tailor lives we haven’t lived. Yes, we’re sick and tired of not speaking up. College crushed our spirits as it was designed to do, because our spirits were far too high and then there was the season of listless wandering, seeking for something to devour and get our teeth around, but at the end of the day we came up hungry. And that is an answer in and of itself. When nothing happens, that is license to make something happen. Confidence is coiled up inside the person who has failed many times, but the difficulty is that failure can just as easily be turned into license for giving up. We resist this.
The fact of the matter is that I have never been more excited about life and how easily it has set me up for failure. What would failure be? Giving into my latent and insane laziness. Life is a challenge we try to meet until we’re too tired to keep meeting it and other bland aphorisms that depressurize the real thing I am feeling and, when added together, end up just dissipating the feeling altogether. The fact of the matter is that I feel angry and I want to kick some teeth in and the first person in line is me. Let’s all get in line and get some actual work done though we are weak and small and confused and a profligate waste and very perfectly safe.