Print Story Dreams upon my Back, Illusions of a Brand-New Start
Diary
By toxicfur (Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 02:27:45 PM EST) (all tags)
There's an Indigo Girls song off Rites of Passage called "Nashville." It's, all in all, not a great song, written by Amy Ray in a bitter tirade about the music business in Nashville and her desire to get as far away as possible. The opening lines, though, were just about enough of a kick in the ass to get me out of a bad situation I'd put myself in: "As I drive from your pearly gates, I realize I just can't stay, all those mountains, they kept you locked inside and hid the truth from my slighted eyes."


I loved that album.  Rites of Passage was the first Indigo Girls album I'd ever bought and in college, I played it until I was sick of every song, and then I tossed it into my CD collection to forget about it for a while. In the meantime, I got my master's degree, was unceremoniously dumped by my one girlfriend, tearfully dumped by another girl who only ever said "I love you" after she and I had called it quits, and finished a year of a PhD program in linguistics and unceremoniously dumped it. I was casting about for what to do with my life, for money, and stuff like shelter and food and vet bills were becoming a little less certain.

That's when I met Dave and Dave. Well, I'd already met Dave-1. He was my next-door neighbor's boyfriend, who had moved in. He was an intense guy with a douchey goatee and weird energy. I wasn't sure I liked him, but I liked Darcie, so I gave him a pass. Shortly after Dave-1 moved in, Dave-2 moved in. He and Dave-1 were best friends since preschool, and I honestly never quite knew why they were friends. Dave-2 was a deadhead of a sort, more of a deadhead wannabe, who did a lot of drugs, fucked a lot of girls, and found himself immensely charming. Dave-2 found a job at the local Damon's restaurant -- a place that specialized in large platters of meat and cheap beer and large-screen TVs for sports. Also, bar trivia.

Dave-2 got me a job there as well, even though I'd never waited tables before in my life. This was around the end of June, just as my funding was running out in the linguistics lab, and just as I was starting to wonder just what in the hell I was going to do. I don't remember being panicked, though -- I was calmly certain that everything would work out.

Did I mention that I'd recently started Celexa -- then, a relatively new SSRI -- and that I was manic at this particular time? I was the strongest, smartest, most capable person in the world. I didn't need sleep, or food, or really anything that ordinary mortals needed. I took my nutrition from the air, especially that air I inhaled through the filters of my Camels. I dozed a few hours in the wee hours of the morning, when nothing but infomercials was on TV.

Some small voice of rationality told me I needed a job, though, so when Dave-2 explained that he could get me a job waiting tables at Damon's, I thought, why not? I could use some extra cash until I figure out what I'm going to do. Dave-1 got on there as a cook, and Jim, another friend of theirs from Indiana, showed up as well, as a bartender. Damon's was (maybe still is) a franchise operation, and a new company had recently taken over the franchises in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, and Jay, the district manager, was doing some serious reorganization of the restaurants that were performing very poorly.

This included the restaurant in Asheville, in the edge of the mountains of North Carolina. The former GM of the Asheville store had been caught embezzling money, the morale was beyond terrible, it was hemorrhaging money and merchandise. There was one manager left and a couple of assistant managers who -- by all accounts -- just wanted their paychecks and free access to the liquor.

Jay hired Dave-1 to train as kitchen manager, Dave-2 as general manager, and Jim as bar manager. After I'd waited tables for a few weeks and proved to have some propensity for the job, Jay offered me a position as assistant manager and bookkeeper. I talked it over with my therapy group, but I'd already made up my mind -- I was going. Dreams upon my back, illusions of a brand new start and all that. My therapist was appalled. She told me -- in no uncertain terms, and with that vague sarcasm that tinged her every remark to me -- that I was making a huge mistake. The other crazy people in the group agreed with her, and we made plans for my separation from the group. I was just pleased that I was never again going to have to say to someone, "When you __, I feel [glad, sad, mad, scared]." I wanted a broader range of emotions, like "annoyed" and "frustrated" and "stoned," and I was certain that I'd find that in the mountains.

I spent a year there. I often drank from morning to night. I regularly blacked out and I had a brief affair with a man more than twice my age (he was proud that he convinced a lesbian half his age to sleep with him -- I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was just bored). I stopped smoking pot, and upped my cigarette intake. I hired people. I fired people. I learned that I was a terrible restaurant manager -- I was unwilling or unable to yell at people, so I'd go behind them in the night after closing and clean as best I could, where my employees had not.

Jim quit after less than a week and headed back to Indiana. Dave-2 got caught having sex with another employee on the banquet room table and was fired a few months later. Dave-1 became general manager, and every day, he screamed at me that I did a terrible job. After the screaming, we'd all go out for drinks and he'd tell me how important I was to him, and how he loved me like a sister. I started sleeping with Alejandro, the undocumented kitchen worker who was in love with me, and we started de facto living together. I drank even more.

And I started to miss the person I'd been before I'd taken this shitty $8/hour job (plus whatever tips I could scam), before I'd moved into the drafty single-wide, before I'd let myself drift with whatever tide was there, before I'd thought I could actually start over. I went to my CD collection, and I dug out all my old Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge and Tori Amos albums. When "Nashville" would come up, I'd scream it: "Asheville, did you give me half a chance," and "Asheville, you forgot the human race."

Almost a year after I moved, I gave enough free drinks to the local U-Haul manager to get a $50 one-way truck rental in return. I called my brothers, who came to help me pack up my belongings -- including Alejandro -- and we caravanned back east, to the last place I'd known who I was, before grad school, before my evil ex, before Asheville. The place where I'd listened to the Indigo Girls unironically and wore flannel shirts and had dreams of great things and optimism that I could reach them. I went home, and started over, but not with a clean slate. I never let myself forget that year. I never let myself forget just how many mistakes I made, or how low I could allow myself to fall. I've never forgotten that I never want to dislike myself that much ever again.

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Dreams upon my Back, Illusions of a Brand-New Start | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I'm not sure Amy Ray's been to Nashville by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #1 Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 06:46:27 PM EST
because I have, and there's no farking mountains in the vicinity of Nashville. In fact, from the top of Nashville's tallest publicly-accessible building, you still can't see mountains.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

I think it was a metaphor. n/t by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 08:33:55 PM EST

--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
In an Indigo Girls song? by notafurry (4.00 / 2) #3 Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:18:05 PM EST
Go on, pull the other one, it has bells on it.

(j/k, btw.)

[ Parent ]
Perhaps. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 12:41:51 AM EST
That metaphor is her Achilles' heel.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Those songs, those years by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Aug 15, 2010 at 10:39:46 PM EST
Sinead O'Connor's song Troy got me through that particular breakup. The dragon I killed was quitting smoking, and it was all so fraught. I can't look back on all that earnestness without some measure of chagrin, but part of me thinks that's what I'm supposed to feel, and isn't embarrassed at all.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

older guys are sad by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 1) #6 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 08:24:32 AM EST
when they sleep with younger women they think they've done something amazing, when most of the time it was just about breaking up boredom on the female's side.

Not always, of course by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 08:34:46 AM EST
Ana is 20 years older than me, and that was definitely not about boredom. But with that guy, I made it clear from the beginning that I didn't want any sort of relationship - it was just about having fun for a little while. Perhaps I was deceiving myself, but I'd thought that men could handle that sort of no-strings-attached relationship than women trend to be able to.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
the difference being by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 06:32:25 PM EST
ana was working on a relationship, not specifically trying to bag a younger chick.  your age was irrelevant.

pop culture wants you to believe that men are all about the no-strings-attached relationships, but, as with everything, it depends on the person.  i was always annoyed when i made it crystal clear that i wasn't interested in an actual relationship, only to find out i was somebody's soul mate or some shit like that (basically the story of my 20s).  idiots.  every one of them thought HE would be THE ONE to get me to settle down.

[ Parent ]
Nah, that's a common lie by notafurry (4.00 / 1) #15 Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 02:28:10 AM EST
Men actually suck at this far more than women do. A typical woman can easily have a no-strings-attached relationship; they have a wide circle of emotionally bonded friends, other women they can lean on for emotional support, sharing, and love. So they can have a physical sexual relationship that amounts to having a vibrator that doesn't need batteries.

Guys, on the other hand, don't. A typical guy has a circle of friends that that typical woman would consider acquaintances - sure, you can throw around a football and drink beer, but they've never had a deeply meaningful conversation, much less a serious emotional bond. The very idea of a serious emotional bond would result in nervous jokes about how totally not gay they are. Which means that even a casual sexual relationship tends to have more significance for the guy, since it may be the only emotional outlet they have.

This shows up all the time in poly circles. It's easy to have a physical relationship with a woman - I have a wonderful wife, I have a circle of close friends I have no problem sharing my emotions with (it even includes a few men, and only two of them are gay!), so a relationship can be just sex. Heck, one good friend and I drift in and out of a physical relationship depending on her relationship status because she doesn't consider herself poly. It's never affected our relationship in any way. But if my wife finds a guy who isn't poly, it often gets interesting and she has to shut them down because they start thinking there's more to the relationship just because she's willing to talk and listen, to the point that she jokes about needing to just stick with women outside of me.


[ Parent ]
Very interesting... by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 07:47:15 AM EST
and thanks for writing that up for me. I admit, my experience with men isn't extensive by any means. I did, however, have experience with lesbians, who tended to get very serious very fast. Or, if things weren't serious (or moving that direction), they no longer wanted to sleep together. I thought I could avoid all the drama if I slept with men. I just ended up with different drama - yeah, I was young and definitely naive.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
Well, we all know the joke by notafurry (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 12:26:12 PM EST
You know the one, about what a lesbian drives to a second date.

A lesbian friend claims it's because it's a little harder for a lesbian to have a close friendship with a woman because of the "but she'll want to sleep with me if we're close" problem, which means lesbians have fewer of those close friends the average woman. I don't know if that's generally accurate or not.

[ Parent ]
hey! by clock (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:28:49 AM EST
I'm only ONE MONTH OLDER THAN YOU!!!!

"older guys" my ass.

oh...wait...


I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
i will dry heave on you in my sleep tonight by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 06:33:05 PM EST


[ Parent ]
again? by clock (2.00 / 0) #13 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 08:13:57 PM EST



I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
you love it by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 2) #14 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 09:46:31 PM EST
if you didn't, you'd stop trying to knock me up all the time.

[ Parent ]
in the absence of ammo and anonymouse by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 04:29:40 PM EST
I'll offer the male perspective:

Firmness and perkiness are nice. Very nice. Worth celebrating, in fact.

[ Parent ]
In all fairness by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Aug 16, 2010 at 07:07:52 PM EST
I wasn't trying to bag a twenty-something. If I was, I'd hang out at the HUB. I happened to meet a person I ended up falling in love with and our ages weren't close.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Maybe by notafurry (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 02:30:58 AM EST
But a relationship with anyone under 25 requires duct tape. (At any rate, I find female exceptions are rare and my wife tells me men are worse.)

[ Parent ]
I daresay by clover kicker (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Aug 17, 2010 at 09:19:23 AM EST
the duct tape relationship rule doesn't expire at any particular age.

Besides, someone banging a chick half their age realizes at some level that it can't last, it's not a typical relationship.

[ Parent ]
Dreams upon my Back, Illusions of a Brand-New Start | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback