Puffs from the incense fill the office lit by the rising sun. As it mixes with the steam from the coffee, I can hear the needle hit the vinyl before my speakers crackle to life.
It is a Monday. More importantly, it’s my Monday.
“How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?” That first line from Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits album gets to me every time. Just enough to feel the hairs on your arm stand on end and make you wonder just what the hell you’re doing.
On an odd topic, would you mind if I tell you my dream? I feel as though I should ask before I just decide to drown you out with what I remember from last night.
I’ll admit that there are more times than not that I don’t dream anything at all. To think of it, it’s a such a pain not to see anything other than the back of my eyelids. However, when I do dream, I remember.
I could hear the hums of cars downtown in the city. A brisk wind hit my bare hands and the side of my face. Shoving my hands into the pockets of my peacoat, I walked down the street with nothing but time and a lack of sense. There was no place that I had to go right then.
Honestly, I should’ve known right then that it was a dream.
My headphones that I always keep on me weren’t in my pocket that day. I searched each one and came up with nothing. There was no sense of dread as to where I left them. I just remember hearing an old teacher commenting on my obsession.
“You know what I think about headphones?” I shook my head. “I say, if you’re gonna go through life, might as well go through it to your own soundtrack.”
Hell, as I write that, I smiled.
I could feel the feet of fall tracking on my heels as I walked alone on that sidewalk. Cracked and crackled, weeds popped from the openings. My brown boots clacked onto the noisy streets.
It was then that I could smell some of the best damn coffee I could ever remember. It was something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The steam was trailing from a little cafe on the corner. The glow of a pink neon sign looped into the letters that said:
THE LION’S DEN. ALL WELCOME, MOST LEAVE.
I’m not sure what compelled me but I had to enter.
Inside was my childhood fantasy and my heaven. There sat Hemingway with Salinger and T.S. Eliot. Tolkien with C.S. Lewis. Shelley with Wolfe. God damn there were so many that I admired.
Not a word was spoken. Not a peep, not a sound in the entire joint. Just the scribbling of their pens on the different pads of papers in front of them. I didn’t want to look like a damn fool so I sat down at the empty table by the door.
The wooden chair with the frayed green cloth creaked as I sat down. A cup of coffee was given to me by a young man no older than 17. There was something in his eyes that screamed for others to look at him in desperation.
It was a look all too familiar.
A pad of paper was in front of me with nothing written on it. I don’t know why but I’ve always had this compulsion to write anything I think of on anything blank. Anything blank for the creative is a crime.
I patted my pockets in search of a pen with no luck. The only things left on the table was a stack of paper, a coffee getting colder by the second, and a small knife; a small knife with the edges worn down by being overused.
As much as I went to every table asking for a pen, they didn’t look up from their pad. Not a single one would acknowledge my damn existence. At this point, I was starting to get frustrated. Before I made it back to the table, I saw the waiter with his pen write down something on my paper. At the bottom edge, he wrote, “Write.”
I wanted to ask him for his pen but he was gone by the time I looked back up.
I must’ve sat there for sometime. As the day passed, the people in the cafe didn’t move from their chair. I kept milling around looking over their shoulders in admiration yet my pad remained empty.
Every idea that I came up with was just derived and had no soul to it.
I couldn’t take it anymore.
Grabbing the knife, I slit my wrist onto the table.
Watching the pool of blood coursing over the table, I wasn’t afraid. I dipped the edge of the knife into blood and began to write on the paper. There was no numbness. Only pain and honesty.
I wrote all that was born and all that was dead inside of me. I finally collapsed onto the table. The shuffling of chairs were heard throughout the cafe. They made their way to my table to read my work.
The last thing I remembered before blacking out and coming to was one of them saying, “It’s not good. Yet, it’s honest. That’s a good start.”
It broke my heart.
So I woke up today wondering what the hell that was for. Was there some truth in all of that? I’d like to think so.
As my mentor Professor Carter has repeatedly told me, “You don’t have the scars right now to write something heartbreaking.” He’s not wrong. The only thing I can ever hope for is to write the way that I feel.
And the way that I feel is that I have more to give to this world than I could ever dream of. It may be shit, it may be brilliant.
The more important thing will be that it’s mine.
Bob Dylan stopped singing long after I’m still writing this damn blog post. I cannot help but be curious as to what the future will hold for me. Will it be beautiful? Will it be beastly?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.