In case you’d like a convenient way to read uninterrupted, here’s all of Period I, Chapter 1 of End of a Circle.
I. I Was Already Flying Before I Boarded the Plane.
I am a colossal crash of chaos. My mind haphazardly shifts from incomplete mundane task 3 on my pre-flight checklist, to the first seven words I’ll attempt to stumble over when I see your face at the terminal gate. It’s 4am, and already this day feels six weeks long.
There is something cathartic, moving, and exciting in waking up before the dawn. Mind you, it’s not like I was ever asleep tonight, but that’s hindsight now. Past events. There was absolutely no way I was falling asleep. Not in my current condition. I flummoxed and frittered away minute after minute, lying awake in a wide-eyed paralysis. That gave way to my current state of mind, a bodily coma outbalanced by an unhinged mind. Early mornings are what I live for, if only I can wake up in time. I keep a mini-fridge next to my bed, stocked to the brim with Red Bull. I need these drinks to keep me from falling to sleep whenever the mood strikes me. I will never be someone you confuse for a morning person – not until I feel release in the form of cocaine in a can. I need a fix. Reach into the fridge; good… 22 left. I may need all of them today, although my heart may simply burst on its own.
I look outside, and it is still dark. There isn’t even a hint of twinight. I always consider these hours as my own personal time when I rule the world. No-one else is awake out here. These hours were made just for me. This is God’s gift to he who hustles and commences action first. There is no way I am leaving anything to chance. Not today. I have the biggest moment of my life to arrive for, and I will not be fashionably late. Only rock stars and socialites can arrive late to the party and get away with it. Regular Joes like me need to start first, start fresh. I am rambling. Did I pack my toothbrush? Shit. Forgot. Can’t have stale cigarette breath today. Not on the day of all days.
I can chug a can of Red Bull in 3.7 seconds. I’ve timed myself. It would be faster, but the opening of the can isn’t conducive to chugging, and there isn’t enough carbonation to shotgun. I could use this shit on tap. It’s better than Beer.
I hop in the shower. Showers just feel better before dawn. It warms your soul, energizes your mind, body, and spirit. I make extra certain to wash everything to the best of my ability. You can always tell the importance of a day by how long you spend in the shower before it begins. Some days, like Tuesdays or Lazy days, are worth about 3 1/2 minutes. Your scrubbing is a rush job. You cut corners. Maybe you don’t use conditioner. Today is not one of those days. I wash what is left of my hair twice. I use the good shampoo. I condition my hair twice. I use the $60 bottle. I only break this bottle out when I know I am going to need it. I am all about getting the edge in life, and if a $5 glob of leave-in is the difference between success and failure, then goddammit I am going to carpe diem. I wash every inch of my body slowly, methodically. Each limb completed is another item to cross off the checklist. Wow… warm water. People should take more showers. A lot of the anger in the world would be reduced if people just hopped in the shower for 10 minutes to simmer. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. World Peace.
I shave slowly, carefully, making sure I miss nothing. I just got my hair cut crisp, high and tight. I am a man on a mission with divine purpose. I brush my teeth and rinse my mouth with the extra-harsh fuck-me-in-the-tongue this shit burns mouthwash. Twice. There will be no stale breath today. I make sure my curiously strong mints are tucked away neatly in my coat pocket. I did this last night. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t forget. I have a habit of forgetting things.
FUCK! My cell phone charger. Lord knows if my cell phone dies and I can’t find you, I will never be able to forgive myself. Whew! 4 bars. Thank the lord.
Awwww…. the Iron is still on. Ok. Here goes. I am notoriously awful at ironing. I could take a freshly pressed shirt and turn it into a 5th grade origami project. But not today. I will spend 20 minutes ironing this shirt and these slacks… each. Every inch of fabric will be perfectly straight. You deserve the best. SONUVABITCH! That burns. Dammit, Jesus h. motherfucking Christ! How did I forget that the iron was hot? Such a klutz. A walking disaster. Ok. Keep your composure. 4:43am. 17 minutes till I leave. Good thing I already packed. I had to do this last night, you know, because if I didn’t… I would be totally out of luck and completely screwed. Yeah, that was redundant. So what?
I wish I had a picture of you to inspire me. God, how I miss your sea-green eyes gazing effortlessly at me imploring me to look, feel, and act my best. I used to have two pictures of you in my wallet, one on my desk, and several on my mantle. Those were halcyon days.
4:48. I am running out of time. I need another Red Bull. I’ll crash on the plane. Wait.. that didn’t sound right. I’ll sleep. Do I have my iPod? My brain is an iPod. On shuffle. Extra batteries? I always carry extra batteries. There is nothing worse than getting ready to board a cross country flight from San Diego to New York and right after you lift off from LAX your music abandons you. That makes for a lonely flight. No, I don’t want to talk to you. Tell your child to shut the fuck up and stop kicking me. Maybe I can sneak some Xanax on the plane. I’ve done it before.
Ok. The pocket check. Every guy does this. I am worse than most. I keep everything in my four pockets. Back right is the wallet. Back left is the Advair. Front right are my keys, Front left is my cell phone. Usually I stuff cigarettes in my breast pocket of my shirt, along with a lighter. These items will not be making my acquaintance today. As of today, I have quit smoking. I will not be a potentially cancerous individual when I see you. You deserve the best. I bought some nicotine lozenges to tide me over when I get cravings and have stocked up on wellbutrin to help me kick this disgusting habit. I am a pharmacy. I am chemically engineered to be the best.
I have one bag. Just a carry-on. I need no more. I pack light. I travel light. It’s easier to make moves when you’re not carrying around so much baggage. Fuck, I should write that down. That’s a good quote.
I grab my coat. Shit, I did that in the wrong order. I am so scatterbrained. Take the bag off. Then put on the coat. I’m late to catch the short bus.
You know what truly is a calamity? I have to pack shoes. I hate packing shoes into a carry-on bag because they don’t exactly fit conveniently. You have to stuff them into a pocket and then do that thing where you pinch the zipper together to make the shoes fit directly inside. It’s a pain in the ass, a waste of 5 min…. FUCK! 5:02. No time for this shit. I got everything I need. Let’s pack the car. That shitbox car. Here we go.
My car is an aesthetically challenged beast of a demon. If cars were women, here’s how the pecking order would go:
1.) You know that supermodel/actress/socialite/national news reporter who is too sexy to even masturbate to and would never ever ever ever look at you? She’s an Alfa Romeo or a Ferrari.
2.) The classy, well-dressed, athletically fit, and perfectly tan girl who consistently shoots you down in the club? She’s a Rolls Royce or a Porsche.
3.) You know the girl who is additionally classy, well-dressed, athletically fit, perfectly tan girl who on most given nights would shoot you down in a club but on one particular night was feeling incredibly lonely, frisky, or both? And you took her home and bedded her once, and she never called you back? That’s a Mercedes or BMW.
4.) The sexilicious workout freak with the foreign accent who you’ve seen on a couple of occasions and on rare occasion even got lucky with? That’s an Audi or Volkswagen.
5.) That cool, calm, sophisticated business woman who is deceptively and monstrously entertaining on any given night of the week? She’s a Hyundai Sonata. (This is where I ideally see my “sweet-spot.”)
6.) That girl who watches the game with you and screams louder at the TV than you could ever dream while absolutely crushing you in a chugging contest? She’s a brand new Pontiac or Chevrolet.
7.) A cougar version of a #3 or #4 is simply used versions of those cars. A little bit more rusty, but they are more attainable and once you get them revved up, they work like new.
8.) Mullet + Smoke-wrinkles = Used #6.
9.) That girl who is the last one who hasn’t been snatched up yet at 3am who after 13 shots of Jameson starts to look like a nerdier, whiter version of Halle Berry… without fresh breath and with 25 extra pounds? That’s my car.
For the record, I love lists and hierarchies. I love ranking everything. When I was younger I used to rank my favorite CDs that I owned, my favorite friends, my favorite quotes, my favorite life moments, my favorite sports moments. I am a self-confessed listaholic. I’ve checked in to rehab for it, but when I tried to rearrange the 12 steps… God himself kicked me out. Fuck you, God.
Of course… I am all the way to the airport now. I don’t even remember how I got here. Am I still driving? Yes. I am. And I am in the wrong parking lot. For the love of all that is holy, what the hell am I doing in… oh, shit I’ll just park at McDonalds. I’ll say my car broke down. What, someone’s gonna tell me that thing looks like it can start? You can’t ticket or tow that beast. I’ll park it sorta off to the side so as not to cause a disturbance. I hate causing disturbances. If I could just slip through life unannounced except for when I do something grand and majestic, then I would. Naturally. What an obvious statement. Scratch that.
Besides, what’s another ticket to a man who has already racked up 45+? I am really quite an impressive driver. I have been pulled over for speeding, following too close, unsafe lane change, failure to signal, failure to yield, no inspection, no registration, no license, no defrost, no headlight, no taillight, running a red, running a stop, failure to affix registration properly, reckless driving, and driving while letting a negro sit passenger. I’m serious. I’ve also been accused of being high or drunk in my car some 15 times… been searched like 7 or 9 times…. and they were only actually correct twice. That’s a 15% success rate. You cops need to do some more research. I’ve also driven on sidewalks, across backyards, through the forest, over curbs, and I’ve also been partially responsible for making a car fly from Tokyo to Beijing. I am that talented. I’ve been pulled over in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. I’ve gotten parking tickets on 7 college campuses and in over 20 cities and towns across the United States. I’ve paid $7,500 in fines. I’ve had my license suspended 23 times for a total of 19 months. My insurance has lapsed twice. Hell… I even once got pulled over for the trifecta of No Insurance, No Inspection, and No Registration all at the same time. I wanted to give up driving. Naturally, I moved to California. I love this fucking state. Everyone else drives like a bigger asshole than me. I don’t worry about being pulled over. I have New York plates.
God, that was a ramble. I am checking through customs now. I’m scared to death of cops. I’ve been arrested 4 times. Each time, I was in a car. So I feel safe in an airport. I’m not driving. I can’t possibly be doing anything illegal.
They wave me on. I tell them “have a great day!” I really enjoy making people smile. I always wear a big one. If you don’t smile, people are going to think you are unhappy and they won’t want to talk to you. This is why I smile. I love when people talk to me. I get off on it. I’m an attention-whore. And I deserve it. My teeth or white, goddammit.
My flight boards at 6:00am and it’s 5:57. Have you ever noticed that no matter what flight, no matter what airline, no matter what airport, you are always departing from the farthest gate from the entrance? How is that possible? Law of averages says at some point you have to accidentally depart from somewhere close by. This is not the case with me. Gate 1. All………. the way down. I think I’m in Imperial now. I ran. Fuck the bathroom. I can hold it. I’ll piss on the plane. That’s what planes are for. Doing whatever the hell you want because you’re never going to run into any of these sorry folks again.
I run up to the gate. I am not too late. It is 6:00 on the nose. Right on time. First time since birth. I was born premature. I told you, babe, I was not going to mess this up. Not for any distraction whatsoever. Not for any of the bells and whistles in all the world. Not for cleavage or a drink at the saloon or a scratch-off ticket or a dying nun. Nope, my entire being has been devoted to this particular day. The beginning of the rest of my life. The clarity arising from the ashes of chaos. Today, in one grand, epic, sweeping journey, I will come through on every promise I have ever delivered to you or to anyone in my entire life. Ever. Yes, it’s that important. This is a tipping point, an epiphany, an odyssey, a time warp, and a clusterfuck all rolled into one giant singular mission.
Hell, you’re probably at work, calculating new ways of saving the world. You in your cozy little office, daydreaming about kissing babies and puppies playing in the meadow and summer sun showers or whatever beautiful dreams girls like you dream. I’ll bet you can’t wait for 5pm. You’re probably going to go to the local happy hour with your work buddies and vent all your frustrations out under the guise of a pint of your favorite lager. You probably going to be headed to the gym to run off a week’s worth of workplace headaches, or you may just go home and read a book. A quiet, peaceful evening. You, John Grisham, your cat, and a bottle of wine.
Well, I am here to poke holes in that little theory of yours. Because sometime around 5:42 Eastern Standard Time… you are going to get a phone call from a phone number you know, only from a place you never expected. And this will set in motion a series of events that will prevent you from your planned evening’s activities. Welcome to my plan. I’ve been expecting you.