I shut the door behind me with more force than I had intended, tore the sweat-soaked bandana from my forehead, and flopped down onto my bed. I breathed in, out, and in again before jumping up and turning on the radio. I adjusted the antenna until Bob Seger's scraggly voice came through loud and clear, then headed for the bathroom adjacent to my room.
I splashed cold water on my face and shook my head left and right, then swung my head down and ran my wet hands through my long hair. Turning the faucet off, I looked to the right of the mirror at the image of Jerry Garcia showing off his four-fingered hand.
"Jerry," I said, and sighed. "Why have you forsaken us?"
I walked back towards my bed, stepping on rhythm with Bob Seger preaching exactly what I was feeling inside:
"Today's music ain't got the same soul..."
See, that's one of the best things about music: sometimes you have a feeling inside and you don't know how to put it into words yourself, but someone else with a gift for such a thing comes along on the radio and does it for you. A nagging feeling inside of you makes you wonder what it is and what's the root of it, and that confusion itself is another nagging feeling, as if one wasn't enough. There are so many different names for different emotions, which has always aggravated me, because I think that emotions are just the kind of things that shouldn't have names at all. Emotions shouldn't be categorized and cataloged. Sometimes the only way to know how you feel is to hear someone else describe it. And somehow, hearing someone else describe it helps- maybe because it kind of connects you with that person. Kind of unifies you. And that helps because unity helps, and unity is what we need. Ya dig?
Halfway to my bed, an air guitar materialized in my hands and I spun on my heel, hair swinging, and howled along with Bob.
"I want that old time rock and roll!"
I bounded onto my bed to continue my imaginary performance just as the doorknob rattled, and promptly flopped down onto my back, trying to look casual.
"Don't think you're fooling anyone," Terry said with a smirk. "I can hear you from the house."
He walked over to my bookshelf, where my radio was blaring, turned the volume down, and picked up a stick of incense. He twirled it between his fingers, and I adjusted myself onto my stomach, resting my head on my hands.
"How is town?" he asked as he flicked the lighter once, twice, three times until it finally ignited, then lit the stick of incense and rested it in the wooden burner.
I rolled my eyes. Town is the same as always, I wanted to say. The same as all towns, everywhere. Mega corporations on every corner, consuming their ignorant consumers. The beep of irritated office workers in traffic at rush hour, in their suits and ties, following the same daily routine they've been orbiting so long they could execute it in their sleep. The ones who aren't in their Lexus cages, shaking their fist at the guy who cut them off, walk silently, briefcase in hand, right past the homeless men and women without a second thought. Lights going green, yellow, red, green-an endless, predictable chain. One closed-down comic book store, a nearly vacated family-run bar and grill, and a going-out-of-business record store suffocated by big bullies like Wal Mart, McDonalds, and Starbucks. Airplanes crowding birds out of their own property, and polluting it, too, adding insult to injury. Mindless teenagers blabbing, gossiping, following. No one for me there. Nothing at all for me there.
"Town is town," I said instead, and he knew what I meant, because he felt the same way. Maybe because he'd been raised that way, been raised in the middle of the woods with the mindset of self-sufficiency and nonconformity, and he was one of the few who wouldn't grow up to do the opposite of what their parents teach them. I always admired his mother for that and wondered what she did so differently that it worked. All the kids I knew when I lived in the city and followed that daily grind that now I so hate longed for nothing more than to do the exact opposite of what their parents wanted them to do, if only for the sake of rubbing them raw, and when I met Rain and her son and saw the way he respected her and believed what she believed, I wondered if their wasn't some secret formula to child-rearing. Maybe a secret formula that living in the city, with its monotony and routine and pollution and corporations consuming their consumers, swallowed up and made impossible.
Terry sat on the bed next to me and kicked his legs slowly. "No news?"
"Nothing is new," I said, and he repeated the phrase an instant after I began it. It was one of my favorite things to say lately.
He blinked, then chuckled. Keeping a dumb grin, he ran his hands through the top of his hair a few times. He was stoned.
I watched him with dull fascination. His antics never ceased to amuse me. He was more fun to interact with sober, but he was equally entertaining high. I knew he could sit there playing with his hair for an eternity if I didn't interrupt him.
"What's for dinner?" I asked, not really caring about the answer, just trying to bring him back to reality.
He paused, then said "Lasagna." Then he said it again, slowly, tasting each syllable.
He gathered himself up onto my bed and lay down on his back next to me. Now Buffalo Springfield was on the radio. Terry tried to say something about that guitar lick, like he always did. It always made me laugh. Those two notes sounded way groovier on drugs. Surely he was about to go on about the heavy lyrics, like he always did, but the smell of food wafted into the room and might as well have formed a physical hand and dragged him out by his nose. I laughed. I rubbed my eyes. I yawned. I put my head down for just a second-maybe less-and before I could stop myself, I fell asleep.