Captain, my captain-
This was my first mistake. I knew it the second I started writing that this was a bad idea. So stop reading. I sent the bloody letter, didn’t I? Just give me an A and throw it away. It’s probably not worth reading. It’ll probably scare you. It’ll probably entice you, enrage you. It’ll probably do what no ones done.
Or it’ll do nothing at all.
That leads into my second mistake. It’s later than I’d like but not yet late enough for birds to be chirping. The room is lit with one lamp, and form far off I can hear a TV blaring. Tomorrow starts summer school, and I still don’t know if I really want to go.
I’m not sure about a lot of things right now, to tell you the truth. Not sure about why I’m still up right now writing this letter. Not sure if I’ll send it. Not sure if that lousy bang in this lousy neighborhood was a stupid gun.
Don’t worry. It probably wasn’t.
I guess I’m writing this right now because it’s late and I’m buzzed and it’s honest. No, I’m nearly positive its nothing you want o hear, but it’s the truth.
I warned you. Quit complaining.
This is therapy for me. Its blank lines and I’m the one who’s going to fill them up. I’m the one who will make them words, manipulate them, give them life.
It’s all about power, really. Same as a kid stoned feels power when he’s on top of the world, same as a judge feels power condemning a convict, same as God feels power over us.
It’s all about getting closer to God, really.
Well sorry mom. Sorry God.
You see, I’m just trying to live my life with as little mistakes as possible. I’m trying to do what every other person is attempting, trying to live and be happy, and know what it means to be content.
Give me happiness.
That’s like a kid saying give me a cake, but don’t put it into the oven. Don’t let it rise, don’t cook it. Bake me happiness, but don’t cook it.
I’m going through the motions. You teach us not to, but you condemn us to it. It’s not your fault, mind you. You’re doing to, too. We’re all living because we want happiness, we’re trying of so very hard to achieve something, to be able to look back and realize we were great.
We’re all perfect little angels with the potential for anything, but none of us are willing to work for it.
We are trapped.
I had a conversation with my dad yesterday about his drinking. I know this must be getting very personal, and you’d rather avoid that because you don’t feel comfortable, but hey! I warned you.
I tried, so hard, to convince him to stop drinking. We were outside sitting in chairs, the two dollar kind you buy for the beach, on the pavement we call a backyard. I’m painting him a picture of possibilities, flowers and sunshine and all that jazz. The way our family could be.
You know. If he stopped drinking.
I don’t believe you’ve ever met my dad, so lemme tell you about him. He’s seven years away from fifty without a possession to his name. He works at some high position at some fancy-spancy hotel downtown somewhere. He is never fully clean shaven, and his breath always smells like smoke and alcohol.
This day, this day I’m talking to him he’s sting in the same shorts he wears every other day he's not at work, but they’re around his ass showing his swim trunks not wet. He’s got this white tank top on with more holes than porous skin, and a dirty baseball cap. He’s sitting in this chair on this concrete slab outside our rented town house, but five feet away on either side from another family, and I’m telling him that we could all be better.
I’m telling him that we could all be happy. That I love him, and mom loves him, and goddamit, God loves him but he needs to stop! And he’s nodding like he gets it and his eyes are closed like its making sense, and he says he loves me too, and I’m smart, or so fucking smart.
But then he takes another sip of that goddamn beer.
Tonight, his breath still smelled stale. He still wobbles when he talks.
Sorry mom. Sorry God.
Don’t judge him, though. It’s not his fault. He’s trapped, just like me. Just like everybody. Trapped in this world we’ve made for ourselves, this little perfect box that we live in, unawares of our own trap.
He was never very smart. He tried, sure. But he could never keep up with his older brother, older Doctor Michael in Florida with the rich house, living the ‘American Dream.’
Dad says that kids make hum the richest man in the world, but really he doesn’t mean it. If he did, his breath wouldn’t be so stale. If he did, I wouldn’t have made the mistake of writing about him in this letter.
Yes, I know that that was a mistake.
We live in a society where everything starts with high school. We’re just learning what words like ‘masturbate’ and ‘premenstrual cycle’ really mean, but we’re already responsible for the rest of our lives. We need to get certain grades to get into a certain college to make a certain income to achieve what we’re all really looking for.
Problem is, no one knows what they want. And especially not a hormonal, annoying, hardly pubescent teenager who can’t think about anything else but when they’re going to get laid next.
Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world. Sure, they kill themselves under pressure. But we condemn ourselves to it.
For all the answers to those burning, life altering questions, consult the fortune cookie association.
So we end up like my dad, forty-something and drunk without a possession to our name with nothing to bring us happiness. If we can’t find happiness, we look for an escape.
But the grass is never really greener on the other side.
And one day, we wake up twenty something working at Kroger, living in our mother’s basement and realize our entire life was just one. big. mistake.
Sorry mom. Sorry God.
The clock is ticking. We’re getting older, older, and we’re wasting time. It’s late, and there’s no sign of it getting any earlier. Sometimes, when it’s really late at night and I can’t sleep, I envy the birds. Sure, they’re stuck going through the motions like everything else, but at least they’re flying high and that bang probably wasn’t a gun.
And then what do we do, once we’ve hit that point? Once we’ve gotten out of college, written the alumnus newspaper about the job that we got that we would even bother writing an alumnus newspaper about, once we’ve saved and saved for that bigger break, that better deal, and bought our house, a car, a family.
Now we’re forty-something with health insurance, and a kid graduating high school with merits, and we’ve taken the place of someone else’s rich Old Doctor Michael. Now we’re sitting on the edge of our pool under the hot sun with swim trunks on and no shirt, sun tan lotion smeared across our faces, watching a tuck take a crap in the pool.
Now we’re buying plasma TV’s for three-thousand dollars, two hundred thousand dollar cash deposits on beach condo’s, a horse for little miss so and so.
Now we’re packing to our biweekly trip around the world. This week we’re going to Antarctica. Why? Why not?
And you know, maybe this is what we want. Maybe this is how we beat the game. Maybe this is exactly where I want to be when I’m forty-something and balding. Sure I haven’t seen my family in three months and a day, but my condo at the beach sure is snazzy!
Maybe this is happiness.
But probably, its not.
Sorry mom. Sorry Coach Allosso.
I’ll see you in September, and you’ll act like this letter didn’t mean anything to you, and it didn’t matter, and maybe it didn’t.
But probably, it did.